The State of Child Care and Early Education in the US

May 09, 2019

Adewale Maye

In honor of Mother’s Day, CEPR is publishing a curated selection of original research reports from academic institutions and nonprofits on the current state of child care and early education in the US. The compilation is part of our ongoing effort to promote informed debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives as well as encouraging inclusive conversations on improving the lives of families across the country.

Brookings Institution

What is the market price of daycare and preschool?

This report uses nationally representative data from the 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey in order to calculate hourly and annualized prices for parents who purchase at least eight hours a week of center-based care for a child under the age of five without a disability or without outside financial help in paying child care fees. Ultimately, the author is looking to find the market price of center-based daycare and preschool for young children by analyzing the age of the child, region of country, parental education, parental income, and hours of attendance.

The Center for American Progress

The Child Care Crisis Is Keeping Women Out of the Workforce

This report explores the correlation between child care and maternal employment and highlights that improving access to quality child care could potentially boost the labor participation and earnings of working mothers. Using data and analysis from the 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey (ECPP), the report identifies key findings such as how a mother’s employment is closely connected with her family’s ability to find child care, how half of US families find it difficult to find child care, and that if some mothers had child care, it would improve their earnings, career progression, and seeing more hours at work.

The Effects of Universal Preschool in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, the share of young children attending public preschool has grown significantly and has shown to improve children’s academic and socio-emotional skills as well as improve the school readiness of young children for kindergarten and beyond. Since 2009, Washington, D.C. has offered two years of universal, full-day preschool conducted by community-based organizations. This report analyzes the effects universal preschool has had on maternal labor force participation and the overall labor characteristics of mothers since the enactment of the policy for mothers with children under five years old.

Understanding Infant and Toddler Child Care Deserts

There is a significant shortage of licensed child care around the country creating “child care deserts” and leaving working parents with very few options for high-quality child care. This report quantifies the extent of the availability of licensed child care for infants and toddlers by analyzing nine states and the District of Columbia. Then, the study concludes with recommendations on how policymakers can act to better support children, families, and early childhood providers to ensure appropriate access and availability.

Affordable Child Care and Early Learning for All Families

The Center for American Progress, the Center for Community Change, and Make It Work collaborated with GBA Strategies to design a survey for voters to access their attitudes toward finding quality, affordable child care for their families.The survey explored a variety of additional topics concerning child care including congressional and state action, increasing oversight and standards of child care facilities, and improving the pay of child care workers.

The National Institute for Early Education

The State of Preschool 2018

The National Institute for Early Education completes an annual report to assess the state of preschools around the country. In 2018, the report found that more children are attending state-funded preschool programs in the US, but funding has been insufficient, which results in low compensation for preschool teachers. Low earnings for preschool teachers often impairs classroom quality. Additionally, state spending per child has decreased over the last year as well which also contributes to the disparity between preschool teachers and K-3 teachers’ earnings.

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

From Opportunity to Change: State Experiences Implementing CCDBG

In 2014, Congress passed the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) which reauthorized the country’s principal source of funding for child care assistance for low-income families. However, the potential of the CCDBG could never fully materialize without additional federal investment. At first, states struggled with the law because there was little data in which states could estimate the costs of abiding by the law, the provisions needed, and the staff and personnel to enforce it. As a result, the Center for Law and Social Policy has partnered with several other agencies and organizations for this report  in order to capture the experience of states following the the reauthorization of CCDBG and inform future child care policy efforts.

CCDBG: Helping Working Families Afford Child Care

This report shares a comprehensive analysis of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). It highlights the program’s importance for low-income families, the current status of the program within states and the country overall, and what the 2018 increase in federal funding means for families and the future of child care.

Inequitable Access to Child Care Subsidies

In the FY 2016, the Office of Child Care made a modification on how they report CCDBG participation data allowing CLASP to analyze children’s race and ethnicity concurrently with access to CCDBG for the first time. This report examines access to CCDBG-funded child care by state, race, and ethnicity as well as identifies potential factors leading to racial disparities in CCDBG access. The authors also offer states steps in order to address and scrutinize the racial inequities in access to child care assistance.

Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

At the Wage Floor

While some sectors have been pivotal in discussions about increasing the minimum wage, those increases vary drastically across industries based on the specific structure of the industry. Workers employed in human services industries, specifically those who provide homecare and early care and education services, face extremely low wages and there is a desperate need to raise those wages. This report focuses on this subset of workers and how human services are underfunded, the lack of affordable, quality care, and the very low living wage of workers in this industry creates an increasingly large problem impacting workers and families everywhere.

The Early Childhood Workforce Index 2018

The Early Childhood Workforce Index 2018 provides an in-depth analysis and summarizes early childhood employment conditions and policies by state in order to improve the jobs and thus improve the quality early child care and education. This report tracks the progress since the first report in the series in 2016 and identifies trends in states over time. Observing earnings, early childhood workforce policies, and family and income support policies, this study supplies a comprehensive look at the state of early childhood services around the country.

Child Trends

How State-level Child Care Development Fund Policies May Shape Access and Utilization among Hispanic Families

The Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) is a federal and state collaborative partnership that provides low-income families the financial assistance to obtain child care in order to support work or attend training or educational programs. While the CCDF helps fund a monthly average of 1.4 million children, the share of Hispanic families using the program is relatively low despite 35 percent of Hispanic children being eligible for the program. This report draws on the analysis of state-level variation in policy and practice that may contribute to the racial/ethnic disparities in the utilization of CCDF subsidies, specifically for Hispanic families.

Access to Early Care and Education for Disadvantaged Families: Do Levels of Access Reflect State’s Child Care Subsidy Policies?

Using survey data from early care and education (ECE) centers and households with children under the age of 13, this report aims to evaluate the access tof ECE of low-income children compared to their higher-income peers as well as what role can child care subsidy policies have to close the gap. Specifically, the report seeks to answer the questions around access to ECE through the lens of affordability. It examines whether the program supports the child’s development, whether there are multiple options for care, and if the programs meet the need of the parents.

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

Making Care Less Taxing: Improving State Child and Dependent Care Tax Provisions

This report provides comprehensive context on state child and dependent care (CADC) tax provisions for families along with their structure, how they benefit families, and how states can enact them in order to alleviate the burden of heavy costs associated with child care. Additionally, this report analyzes and highlights the CADC tax provision from each state.  

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014: Update on State Implementation of Key Policies

This report tracks the progress of states implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, the primary federal child care assistance program that aims to help low-income families with financial burden of child care costs. By analyzing data on state policies and policy changes, the authors focus key areas that help enforce the law including adequate staff, payment to child care providers when children receiving child care assistance are absent, and the higher payment rates for special needs care, care during nontraditional hours, and other specialized care.

Stepping Up: New Policies and Strategies Supporting Parents in Low-Wage Jobs and Their Children

A continuation of the National Women’s Law Center’s 2016 report Step Up for Success: Strategies to Support Parents in Low-Wage Jobs and Their Children, this study supplies examples of ways stakeholders since 2016 have advanced the goals of the previous report regarding parent’s working in low-wage jobs as well as the access and affordability of quality child care. The goals include increasing parents’ income; ensuring parents are treated fairly in the workplace and given stable, predictable work schedules; expanding children’s access to high-quality, affordable child care and early education; increasing parents’ access to paid sick days and paid family leave and medical leave; and improving parents’ opportunities to obtain education and training that can help them advance into better paying jobs.

Overdue for Investment: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2018

This report analyzes the progress states have made on their child care policies from February 2017 to February 2018 under the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The five key areas this report assesses are income eligibility limits to qualify for child care assistance, payment rates for child care assistance copayments required by parents receiving child care assistance, payment rates for child care providers, and eligibility for child care assistance for parents searching for a job.

The Next Recession is Coming, and Child Care Assistance Must Be Part of the Solution

Although the US is currently in one of the largest economic expansions in the US history, there is uncertainty when the next downturn will be and how hard it can hit. In order to abate the depth and length of the next recession, it is imperative to strengthen policies that stabilize families, state governments, and the economy when unemployment arises. This brief demonstrates that child care assistance is a vital anti-recessionary tool and provides policy recommendations to strengthen child care assistance by investments.

Urban Institute

Preparing the Future Workforce: Early Care and Education Participation among Children of Immigrants

Immigrant children will soon make up a large share of our nation’s future labor force, but are less likely than other children to participate in early education programs which are known to encourage school readiness and long-term productivity. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, this report finds that children of immigrants tend to receive fewer resources, but with a greater need than US-born children and lower rates of enrollment in center-based preschools. Although programs like Head Start and state kindergarten are taking measures to close this gap, current investments in early education and child care need to be expanded in order to help prepare the future workforce in 2050.

Nontraditional-Hour Child Care in the District of Columbia

Many District of Columbia residents with young children work nontraditional work hours, but find it hard to find child care development facilities to meet their needs given their schedules. This report examines the needs and offers recommendations for expanding the number of child development facilities with nontraditional hours which includes the city’s approach to better support providers.

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