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- Definition: Estimated annual cost of full-time licensed child care, by age group and type of facility (e.g., in 2018, full-time licensed child care for an infant in a child care center cost $17,384 annually in California).
- Data Source: California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, California Child Care Portfolio (Feb. 2020).
- Footnote: These estimates are based on data from the California Dept. of Education's Regional Market Rate Survey of California Child Care Providers. Infants are children ages 0-2; preschoolers are children ages 3-5. Full-time care is 30 hours or more per week. Child care centers are facilities that provide care for infants, preschoolers, and/or school-age children during all or part of the day. These facilities may be large or small and can be operated independently by nonprofit organizations or by churches, school districts, or other organizations. Most child care centers are licensed by the California Dept. of Social Services (CDSS). In family child care homes, care for up to 14 children is offered in the home of the provider, often a parent; care is typically provided for children of a variety of ages. Family child care homes also are licensed by CDSS.
- 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 percentage of children in working families for whom child care spaces are available
- The number of child care spaces in licensed facilities and the percentage of full-time and part-time spaces 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 Spaces 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, by Family Composition
- 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 associated with 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). And the cost is high. For example, center-based infant care costs in California made up an estimated 18% of the median annual income for married couples and 56% for single parents in 2018 (1). In 2018, 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. (2019). The U.S. and the high price of child care: An examination of a broken system. Retrieved from: https://www.childcareaware.org/our-issues/research/the-us-and-the-high-price-of-child-care-2019
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
- 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 36,827 licensed child care centers and family child care homes provided 976,835 child care spaces in 2019. Overall, the number of licensed facilities and spaces have been on the decline since 2008. In 2018, the average annual cost of licensed infant care exceeded $17,000 in child care centers and approached $12,000 in family child care homes. Care for preschool-age children was less expensive, but still more than $12,000 in child care centers and nearly $11,000 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 & National Research Council. 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. (2019). Making care less taxing: Improving state child and dependent care tax provisions, tax year 2018. Retrieved from: https://nwlc.org/resources/making-care-less-taxing-improving-state-child-and-dependent-care-tax-provisions-tax-year-2018
- Websites with Related Information
- California Budget and Policy Center: Child Care and Preschool
- 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
- 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
- 2020 California Children's Report Card. Children Now.
- Access to High-Quality Early Education and Racial Equity. (2020). National Institute for Early Education Research. Friedman-Krauss, A., & Barnett, S.
- Building an Early Learning System that Works: Next Steps for California. (2018). Learning Policy Institute. Melnick, H., et al.
- California Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education: Final Report. (2019).
- Early Childhood Education in California. (2018). Stanford University, Getting Down to Facts II. Stipek, D.
- Equity in Early Childhood Systems: A Community Action Brief. (2019). Center for the Study of Social Policy and National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers.
- Kids' Share: Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children. Urban Institute.
- Mitigating the Effects of Trauma Among Young Children of Immigrants and Refugees: The Role of Early Childhood Programs. (2019). Migration Policy Institute. Park, M., & Katsiaficas, C.
- Quality Early Education and Child Care from Birth to Kindergarten. (2017). American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Early Childhood. Donoghue, E. A.
- School Readiness. (2019). American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Early Childhood and Council on School Health. Williams, P. G., & Lerner, M. A.
- Starting Early: Education from Prekindergarten to Third Grade. (2016). The Future of Children.
- State Preschool Yearbook. National Institute for Early Education Research.
- 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.
- Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education. (2018). National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
- Using Data to Support a Comprehensive System of Early Learning and Care in California. (2020). SRI International. Coffey, M., 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 Improvement Plan for Los Angeles County 2015-2020. 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. (2019). San Diego Children’s Initiative.
- 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
- 2020 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.
- National Center for Education Statistics: Data Tools. U.S. Dept. of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.
- The U.S. and the High Price of Child Care. Child Care Aware of America.
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