Date of Graduation

Summer 8-12-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


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First Advisor

Jovita Murillo-Leon, DrPh, MPH, MA



Objective - Working mothers face mental strain when returning to work due to the challenges of the current child care system. It is unclear how the instability of the child care sector impacts the mental health of working mothers.

Methods - The systematic review of literature was conducted to identify existing evidence to determine the influence access to quality, dependable, and affordable child care has on maternal mental health outcomes in working mothers. Multiple databases were used including PubMed and Scopus.

Results - Subsidized programs help reduce the cost of child care, however, income eligibility criteria makes it difficult for working mothers to qualify. This often has detrimental effects on a mothers mental health. Further, child care arrangements become unstable due to child illness, unreliability of the provider, and the lack of availability of quality child care. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the gaps in the child care system, resulting in mothers leaving the workforce to care for their children. Implementing local policies to assist working mothers in obtaining stable, quality and affordable child care, and institutional policies requiring employers to offer child care resources can reduce maternal mental stress.

Conclusion - The current child care system is overwhelming and underfunded. This compounded with the pandemic has increased responsibilities among women negatively impacting working mothers. Future research should focus on the detrimental effects the child care system imposes on working parents prompting new policy development to rebuild the current child care system.