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- Definition: Estimated percentage of children ages 0-12 with parents in the labor force for whom licensed child care slots are available and unavailable (e.g, in 2017, licensed child care slots were available for 23% of children with working parents in California).
- Data Source: California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, California Child Care Portfolio (Jun. 2018).
- Footnote: Children with parents in the labor force include those in single-parent families with one working parent and those in two-parent families with two working parents. Data prior to 2010 are estimates for children ages 0-13. These data are calculated by dividing the total number of licensed child care slots by an estimate of the number of children with parents in the workforce. This indicator represents a broad measure of child care demand. Not all children in working families need licensed child care; some may be cared for by family members, nannies, friends, or in unlicensed care. Use caution when interpreting trends over time as the method for estimating the number of children with parents in the workforce varies across years.
- Measures of Early Care and Education on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, indicators of early childhood care and education include:
- The percentage of children ages 0-5 whose parents read with them, by weekly frequency
- Single-year estimates of the percentage of children ages 3-5 not enrolled in preschool or kindergarten, by county, and, for the U.S. and California, by age and by race/ethnicity; also available are five-year estimates for regions with 10,000+ residents and legislative districts
*The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network tracks licensed facilities (child care centers and family child care homes) providing care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and/or school-age children during all or part of the day. Data are available only for licensed facilities. Many families use license-exempt care, such as child care provided by relatives or friends.
- The annual cost of child care for infants and preschoolers in child care centers and family child care homes
- The availability of child care for children in working families
- The number of child care slots in licensed facilities and the percentage of full-time and part-time slots available
- The number of licensed child care facilities and the percentage of facilities offering evening, weekend or overnight care
- The percentage of child care requests by age group and the percentage of requests for evening, weekend or overnight care
- Early Care and Education
- Young Children Whose Parents Read with Them, by Frequency
- Children Ages 3-5 Not Enrolled in Preschool or Kindergarten (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Ages 3-5 Not Enrolled in Preschool or Kindergarten (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Annual Cost of Child Care, by Age Group and Facility Type
- Availability of Child Care for Working Families
- Child Care Slots in Licensed Facilities, by Facility Type
- Licensed Child Care Facilities, by Type
- Licensed Child Care Facilities Offering Evening, Weekend or Overnight Care, by Facility Type
- Requests for Child Care, by Age Group
- Requests for Evening, Weekend or Overnight Child Care
- Family Income and Poverty
- Median Family Income, by Family Type (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living in Low-Income Working Families (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Poverty Thresholds - California Poverty Measure, by Family Composition and Housing Tenure
- Self-Sufficiency Standard
- Impact of Special Health Care Needs on Children & Families
- Why This Topic Is Important
Child care is a critically important need for many families in the United States (1). High-quality child care centers and homes deliver consistent, developmentally sound, and emotionally supportive care and education (1, 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 behavioral/emotional functioning, school readiness, academic achievement, educational attainment, and earnings, with improvements particularly pronounced for children from low-income families and those at risk for academic failure (1, 2, 3).
However, finding affordable, high-quality child care is a major challenge for many families, and access differs based on geography, race/ethnicity, and income (3). In 2017, licensed child care was available for an estimated 23% of California children ages 0-12 with working parents (4). And the cost is high. For example, center-based infant care costs in California made up an estimated 19% of the median annual income for married couples and 60% for single parents in 2017 (1). In 2017, California was ranked the least affordable state for center-based infant care in the nation (1).For more information about early care and education, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Child Care Aware of America. (2018). The U.S. and the high cost of child care: A review of prices and proposed solutions for a broken system. Retrieved from: http://usa.childcareaware.org/advocacy-public-policy/resources/research/costofcare
2. MacGillvary, J., & Lucia, L. (2011). Economic impacts of early care and education in California. UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Retrieved from: http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/pdf/2011/child_care_report0811.pdf
3. U.S. Department of Education. (2015). A matter of equity: Preschool in America. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/documents/early-learning/matter-equity-preschool-america.pdf
4. As cited on kidsdata.org, Availability of child care for working families. (2019). California Child Care Resource and Referral Network.
- How Children Are Faring
In 2016, an estimated 39% of California children ages 3-5 were not enrolled in preschool or kindergarten, similar to estimates from previous years. Over 43% of Hispanic/Latino 3- to 5-year olds were not enrolled in preschool of kindergarten, compared with less than 33% of their Asian American, white, and multiracial peers. Among counties with data in 2012-2016, the percentage of children in this age group not enrolled in preschool or kindergarten ranged from 22% (San Francisco) to 53% (Madera).
California's 38,394 licensed child care centers and family child care homes provided 992,425 child care slots in 2017. Overall, the number of licensed facilities and slots have been on the decline since 2008. Statewide, licensed child care slots were available for an estimated 23% of California children ages 0-12 with working parents in 2017; in some counties, however, availability was as low as 11%.
The average annual cost of licensed infant care was nearly $16,500 in child care centers and more than $10,500 in family child care homes in 2016. Care for preschool-age children was less expensive, but still more than $11,000 in child care centers and almost $10,000 in family child care homes.
- Policy Implications
Early childhood is a critical period for biological, cognitive, and social development (1, 2). The quality of children’s environments and experiences during these years have lasting effects (1, 2). From infancy, children learn to relate to others and their environment while developing skills to successfully navigate social, emotional, and educational challenges (2, 3). Research has shown that quality early education and child care can have positive, long-term impacts on child development, especially for children with low family incomes or other disadvantages (1, 2, 3). For example, children who attend high-quality preschools tend to have better test scores, fewer behavioral problems, and higher rates of high school graduation, among other long-term benefits (1, 2). Without access to high-quality early learning opportunities, children can fall behind their peers, creating an academic achievement gap that has been shown to widen with age (1, 2). However, many families have difficulty accessing quality early care and education, often due to a lack of program affordability or availability (1).
Policies that could improve early education and child care include:
For more policy ideas related to early care and education, visit the California Department of Education's State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Also see Policy Implications under Family Income and Poverty on kidsdata.org.
- Increasing state funding for early care and education, tying funding to program quality and prioritizing care for infants/toddlers and children with the greatest needs (1)
- Requiring early education programs that receive public funding to participate in a continuous improvement process that includes benchmarked quality ratings, action plans for improvement, accountability measures, financial incentives, program support, and parent education efforts (1, 4)
- Creating adequate capacity for high-quality care and comprehensive learning programs for infants and toddlers, including full-day preschool for all low-income children ages 3-4, and integrating guidelines for easing the transitions from early care to preschool to the K-12 environment (1, 2, 5)
- Improving the state’s professional development infrastructure to prepare and support an effective early childhood education workforce that includes accessible, coordinated, standardized, high-quality training for educators and caregivers that is research-based and focused on applying knowledge to practice (1, 2, 3)
- Making the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit fully refundable at the state level, targeting low and moderate income earners, regardless of tax liability, and encouraging other federal solutions to address the high cost of child care (6)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Governor's State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care. (2013). California comprehensive early learning plan. California Department of Education. Retrieved from: http://glenpricegroup.com/ccelp
2. Tout, K., et al. (2013). The research base for a birth through age eight state policy framework. Alliance for Early Success & Child Trends. Retrieved from: https://www.childtrends.org/?publications=the-research-base-for-a-birth-through-eight-state-policy-framework-2
3. Allen, L., & Kelly, B. B. (Eds.). (2015). Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of The National Academies. Retrieved from: http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2015/Birth-To-Eight.aspx
4. National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement. (2012). QRIS in statute and regulations. Retrieved from: http://qrisnetwork.org/resource/2012/qris-statute-and-regulations
5. Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2013). The first eight years: Giving kids a foundation for lifetime success . Retrieved from: https://www.aecf.org/resources/the-first-eight-years-giving-kids-a-foundation-for-lifetime-success
6. National Women's Law Center. (2015). 2015 supplement to "Making care less taxing: Improving state child and dependent care tax provisions." Retrieved from: https://nwlc.org/resources/2015-supplement-making-care-less-taxing-improving-state-child-and-dependent-care-tax-provisions
- Websites with Related Information
- California Child Care Resource and Referral Network
- California Education GPS, Alliance for Continuous Improvement
- Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP): Child Care and Early Education
- Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
- Child Trends: Early Childhood
- Getting Down to Facts II, Stanford University & Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)
- IssueLab: Children and Youth, Foundation Center
- MDRC: Child Care and Early Education
- National Association for the Education of Young Children
- National Center for Children in Poverty: Early Care and Learning
- National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers Graduate School of Education
- Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis
- The Early Learning Lab
- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families: Office of Child Care
- Zero to Three
- Key Reports and Research
- 2018 California Children's Report Card, Children Now
- A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, 2015, U.S. Dept. of Education
- America’s Fragmented Child Care and Early Education System, 2015, Council on Contemporary Families, Gable, S.
- Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education, 2014, New America, Bornfreund, L., et al.
- California's Infants and Toddlers: Future Promise, or Missed Opportunities?, 2015, Child Trends, Murphey, D., & Cooper, M.
- Five Facts Everyone Should Know About California’s Child Care and Development System, 2015, California Budget and Policy Center, Schumacher, K.
- Guide to Getting Down to Facts II: Highlights from 36 Studies on California’s PreK-12 Education System, 2018, EdSource, Stanford University, & Policy Analysis for California Education
- High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families, 2015, Economic Policy Institute, Gould, E., & Cooke, T.
- Kids' Share: Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children, Urban Institute
- Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice, 2014, Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood
- Policies to Promote Child Health, 2015, The Future of Children
- Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, 2015, California Dept. of Public Health, Office of Health Equity
- Starting Early: Education from Prekindergarten to Third Grade, 2016, The Future of Children
- The High Cost of Child Care Underscores the Need for Supporting Families With Children of All Ages, 2019, California Budget and Policy Center, Schumacher, K.
- The State of Preschool 2018: State Preschool Yearbook, 2019, National Institute for Early Education Research, Friedman-Krauss, A. H., et al.
- Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, 2015, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of The National Academies, Allen, L., & Kelly, B. B. (Eds.)
- Understanding California’s Early Care and Education System, 2017, Learning Policy Institute, Melnick, H., et al.
- Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity, 2019, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
- County/Regional Reports
- 2015 School Readiness in Alameda County, First 5 Alameda County & Interagency Children’s Policy Council, Applied Survey Research
- 2018-19 California County Scorecard of Children's Well-Being, Children Now
- Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, Orange County Children's Partnership
- Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Early Care and Education: A Vital Resource for Strengthening Families, Connecting the Dots: Snapshots of Child Well-Being in Los Angeles County, Children's Data Network
- Key Indicators of Health by Service Planning Area, 2017, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community, 2017, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- Santa Monica Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- School Readiness in San Francisco, 2015-16, First 5 San Francisco & San Francisco Unified School District, Applied Survey Research
- More Data Sources For Early Care and Education
- 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- California Child Care Portfolio, California Child Care Resource and Referral Network
- California Health Interview Survey, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
- Child Trends Databank
- National Center for Education Statistics: Data Tools, U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
- The U.S. and the High Cost of Child Care, Child Care Aware of America
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