Panel Paper: The Landscape of Early Care and Education for Infants and Toddlers: Findings From the National Study of Early Care and Education

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 8:00 AM
Mayfair Court (Westin Georgetown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lisa Gennetian, New York University, Richard Brandon, RNB Consulting, A. Rupa Datta, National Opinion Research Center, Nicole Forry,
Several trends have fueled research and policy interest on the provision of high quality learning environments for infants and toddlers, particularly for those children in families at socio-economic risk.  First, a body of neuro and related social science research points to the socio-economic differences in cognitive and behavioral outcomes that begin as early as infancy when the brain is most malleable.  Second, employment of mothers with infants and toddlers has nearly doubled over the last three decades raising the stakes for the availability of safe and high quality nonparental care environments.1  Finally, a patchwork of federal and state subsidies has evolved, raising issues of inequity of access and financing depending on ages of children served.  

Understanding the landscape of early care and education for infants and toddlers and the implication of these trends—from both the perspective of families,  providers and the workforce-- has been substantially hampered, until now, by the lack of comprehensive national data and the ability to compare services for infants and toddlers to those for other age groups.  Most existing investigations must rely on data from earlier cohorts, the perspective of one focal child, or, depict use and availability for a specific geographic area, subpopulation, or program.  National data on the workforce had simply not been previously collected.  This paper will provide some of the first estimates of the availability, worker characteristics, and use of infant and toddler care nationwide.

We will use the first-release of data collected in 2012 from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), an exciting national study sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  NSECE data include four nationally representative components: Completed interviews with over 11,000 households with children < age 13 that encompasses an oversampling of low income families; nearly 8,300 center-based providers drawn from state and national lists; 5,600 nonparental home-based care providers capturing the range of regulated, licensed or registered as well as grandmothers or other relatives; and, almost 5,500 center-based  early care staff with information about attitudes and activities performed with children, qualifications and professional development.  Particularly unique to the NSECE is a cluster sampling design that will allow descriptions of a ‘shared ECE community.’  

We will describe family utilization of nonparental care for their infants and toddlers, the characteristics of centers and home-based providers that care for infants and toddlers, and the characteristics, attitudes and activities of non-parental caregivers for infant and toddlers. Detailed descriptive portraits will be presented overall, as national estimates, and then separately for low-income households with infants and toddlers, communities with high proportions of low income households, and providers with high densities of publicly subsidized children.