A to Z’s of Early Childhood

The science of child development and learning

is for Access

Families often need help finding and enrolling their children in an early childhood education and care program that is affordable, meets their needs, and that promotes children’s development and learning. Did you know there are local and national resources to help families locate and access needed early education and care arrangements?

Tips for Locating and Accessing Education and Care Programs

Tip #1

Use online tools to search for available early childhood education and care providers.

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Tip #1

Recent federal legislation has resulted in the development of a national search engine designed to help families find early childhood education and care options.

Tip #2

When searching online, look for markers of quality.

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Tip #2

Trustworthy online search tools display important information about the type and quality of services provided by early childhood education and care providers. Look for ratings of quality, whether or not the program is accredited by a reputable organization, and the program’s history of compliance with health and safety regulations.

Tip #3

Contact your state or local Child Care Resource and Referral agency.

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Tip #3

Child Care Resource and Referral agencies help families find early childhood education and care services. They have staff trained to answer families’ questions about early childhood education and care and to help families find resources that make services more affordable.

Tip #4

Explore resources that help families afford high-quality early childhood education and care services.

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Tip #4

Many states have state-managed voucher programs, public preschool programs, and federally sponsored Early Head Start/Head Start programs. These resources can help provide families with supports to access early education and care options.

What We Know About Access

The National Survey of Early Care and Education reported the availability of early childhood education and care services is lower for children birth to age 3 than for children who are older than 3. Only 36% of formal early childhood education and care programs provide care for children under age 1, 43% provide care for 1-year-olds, and 52% provide care for 2-year-olds.1

The most recent census report (2011) found that 32.9% of children under age 5 are enrolled in a formal early childhood education and care program.2

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that as of 2016, 58% percent of 4- and 5-year-old children attended formal early childhood education and care programs in the year prior to kindergarten entry.3

Parents whose children are enrolled in formal care experience lower work disruptions and increased job retention.4

Family-, friend-, and neighbor-provided care is reported to be the most common arrangement families use for their children when working.5,6 Families should be aware that this type of care is not regulated in the same way as more formal early childhood education and care programs.

What We Are Doing

The Anita Zucker Center is continuing to work with local communities and state agencies to research and address obstacles that families face when trying to access high-quality early childhood education and care for their children.

Download an A is for Access flyer and share it with your community today.

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A is for Access PDF download
A is for Access PDF download

References

  1. National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team. (2015). Fact sheet: Who is providing home-based early care and education? (Report No. 2015-43). Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/hb_providers_fact_sheet_toopre_041715_508.pdf
  2. Laughlin, L. (2013). Who’s minding the kids? Child care arrangements: Spring 2011 (Report No. P70-135). Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p70-135.pdf
  3. Rathbun, A., Zhang, A., & Snyder, T. D. (2016). Primary early care and education arrangements and achievement at kindergarten entry (NCES 2016-070). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016070.pdf
  4. Gordon, R. A., Kaestner, R., & Korenman, S. (2008). Child care and work absences: Trade-offs by type of care. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(1), 239-254. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00475.x
  5. Boushey, H. & Wright, J. (2004). Working moms and child care. (Data Brief No. 3) Washington, DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research.
  6. Snyder, K. & Adelman, S. (2004). The use of relative care while parents work: Findings from the 1999 national survey of America’s families. (The Urban Institute 04-09). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. Retrieved from http://webarchive.urban.org/UploadedPDF/311131_DP04-09.pdf

Dedicated to supporting the well-being of young children and their families, the Anita Zucker Center has engaged with its partners to launch an ambitious initiative designed to provide accessible and practical information about child development and learning to support parents, caregivers, professionals and policymakers.

The A to Z’s of Early Childhood is a trusted source that offers robust, quality and up-to-date information and resources informed by the science of early childhood development and learning – from short videos and quick tips to academic research and detailed policy briefs.

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