Kidsdata.org includes the following measures of child care:
Annual Cost of Child Care, by Age Group and Type of Facility
- Availability of Child Care for Potential Demand
- Availability of Child Care, by Facility's Schedule and Type of Facility
- Number of Child Care Slots in Licensed Facilities, by Type of Facility
- Number of Licensed Child Care Facilities, by Type of Facility
- Parent Requests for Child Care, by Age
- Parent Requests for Evening, Weekend, or Overnight Child Care
- Parent Reports of Affordable Child Care Options, Overall, and by Income Level
Parent Satisfaction with the Quality of Child Care, Overall, and by Income Level
Child care refers to the supervision and care of a minor child, usually when the child is apart from a parent or guardian. The California Child Care Resource & Referral Network tracks licensed facilities in the state that provide care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and/or school-age children during all or part of the day.
There are two types of facilities: child care centers and family child care homes. Child care centers offer care for children in a group setting. Family child care homes offer care in the home of the provider, often a parent.
Full-day child care facilities are open all day and all year to cover the
hours needed by working parents. Part-day facilities, often called nursery
schools or preschools for children 3-5 years old, generally offer a
program for 3-5 hours a day only during the school year.
Infant child care facilities are licensed to care for infants and toddlers
under age 2. School-age facilities are licensed to serve children ages 6 and older. Most child care facilities are licensed
by the California Department of Social Services (DSS).
Data are available only for licensed facilities. Many families use license-exempt care, such as child care provided by relatives and friends.
Availability of child care for potential demand is the estimated percentage of children under age 13 with parents in the labor force to whom licensed child care is available.
In California, as in the nation, more than half of children under age 6 live in homes where both parents (or a single head of household) are employed (1). Many of these children must be cared for in child care centers or family child care homes.
High-quality child care centers and homes deliver consistent, developmentally sound, and emotionally supportive care and education (2). Research indicates that high-quality early care and education can have long-lasting positive effects. Specifically, high-quality child care before age 5 is related to higher levels of school readiness, academic achievement, educational attainment, and behavioral/emotional functioning during elementary, middle, and high school (2, 3, 4).
However, finding affordable, high-quality child care is a major challenge for many families. In 2010, licensed child care was available for an estimated 25% of potential demand in California (i.e., children ages 0-12 with working parents) (5). And the cost is high. For example, infant child care costs in California made up an estimated 14% of the median annual income for married couples and 40% for single mothers in 2011 (1). In 2008, California was ranked the 5th least affordable state for infant care in the nation (6).
For more information about child care, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
- National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). (2011). Child care in America: 2011 state fact sheets. Retrieved from: http://www.naccrra.org/policy/docs/ChildCareInAmericaFacts_2011_090611_reprint.pdf
- MacGillvary, J., & Lucia, L. (2011). Economic impacts of early care and education in California. University of California, Berkeley: Center for Labor Research and Education. Retrieved from: http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/cscce/2011/economic-impacts-of-early-care-and-education-in-california/
- Vandell, D. L., Belsky, J., Burchinal, M., Steinberg, L., Vandergrift, N., & NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2010). Do effects of early childcare extend to age 15 years? Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Child Development, 81(3), 737-756. Retrieved from: http://www.gse.uci.edu/docs/VandelletalNICHD.pdf
- Rand Corporation, Labor and Population. (2007). The promise of preschool for narrowing readiness and achievement gaps among California children. Research Brief. Retrieved from: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9306/index1.html
- Child Care Resource and Referral Network. (2011). The 2011 California child care portfolio. Retrieved from: http://www.rrnetwork.org/rr-research-in-action/network-resources-publications/
- National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). (2009). Parents and the high price of child care: 2009 update. Retrieved from: http://www.naccrra.org/publications/naccrra-publications/parents-and-the-high-price-of-child-care-2009
As a regulated field that includes a substantial public subsidy program, child care and early education is greatly affected by public policy. Policymakers can help ensure that high-quality child care is accessible and affordable to families that need it, and that early childhood programs are structured to help children start kindergarten ready to learn. Child care is particularly inaccessible to families with infants and families who struggle to pay for care but do not receive public subsidies (1, 2). As California prepares to shift the kindergarten entry age, policymakers face new opportunities and challenges in developing kindergarten readiness programs for pre-K students with fall birthdays.
According to research and subject experts, policies that could improve child care and early education include:
- Increasing funding and setting standards to boost the wages and quality of child care and early learning providers (3, 8)
- Creating incentives to increase the supply of high-quality care for infants (2, 8) and making subsidies more available to the working poor (1)
- Supporting accessible, high-quality, and research-based professional development for early childhood educators that allows for effective implementation and use (4, 5)
- Increasing school readiness by providing high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs (6, 7), implementing the Kindergarten Readiness Act (providing for transitional kindergarten for children with birthdays between the new and old kindergarten entry date cut-off), and improving alignment of early learning/preschool guidelines and standards with kindergarten and the early grades (3, 8)
For more policy ideas and research about early care and education and transitional kindergarten, visit Zero to Three, Preschool California, California Early Learning Advisory Council, the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, and see reports from the RAND California Preschool Study.
Sources for this narrative:
- California Legislative Analysts’ Office. (2011). The 2011-12 budget: Child care and development. Retrieved from: http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis/2011/education/child_care_012411.aspx
- California Child Care Resource & Referral Network. (2011). 2011 California child care portfolio. Retrieved from: http://www.rrnetwork.org/rr-research-in-action/network-resources-publications/
- Barnett, W. S. (2003). Low wages = Low quality: Solving the real preschool teacher crisis. National Institute for Early Education Research. Retrieved from: http://nieer.org/docs/?DocID=74
- Zaslow, M., Tout, K., Maxwell, K., & Clifford, R. (2004). The role of professional development in creating high quality preschool education. ChildTrends. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2005_09_09_SP_PreTeachers.pdf
- Sheridan, S. S., Edwards, C. P., Marvin, C. A., & Knoche, L. L. (2009). Professional development in early childhood programs: Process issues and research needs. Early Education and Development, 20(3), 377-401. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2756772/pdf/nihms117353.pdf
- Barnett, W. S., Jung, K., Wong, V., Cook, T., & Lamy, C. (2007). Effects of five state prekindergarten programs on early learning. National Institute for Early Education Research. Retrieved from: http://nieer.org/pdf/MultiState1007.pdf
- O’Brien, E. M., & Dervarics, C. (2007). Prekindergarten: What the research shows. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Pre-kindergarten/Pre-Kindergarten/Pre-kindergarten-What-the-research-shows.html
- Demma, R. (2010). Building ready states: A governor’s guide to supporting a comprehensive, high quality early childhood state system. National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices. Retrieved from: http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1010GOVSGUIDEEARLYCHILD.PDF;jsessionid=F4A78843D33C2F8B1DEA39EC1830B81A
In 2010, licensed child care was available for an estimated 25% of children ages 0-12 with working parents in California. However, many child care providers do not fill all of their slots due to shortages of qualified staff or other issues, and providers’ schedules do not always meet the needs of families. For example, in 2010, more than 10% of all parent requests for licensed child care in California were for evening, weekend or overnight care, but only 2% of licensed child care centers offered this type of care. While family child care homes are more likely to provide care during evenings, weekends, or overnight, they represent only about a third of the licensed child care slots in the state.
In 2009, the average annual cost of infant care was more than $11,000 in licensed child care centers and nearly $7,000 in family child care homes; for preschool-age children, the annual cost was almost $8,000 in licensed child care centers and about $6,600 in family child care homes.
According to a 2010 survey of California parents, approximately 16% of children have parents who say they do not have affordable child care or after-school care options available to them. When asked about the quality of their child care arrangements, parents of 84% of children were satisfied with their child's care.