Panel Paper: A Current Picture of Early Care and Education for America's Children: Differences By Household and Community Income

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 3:50 PM
Salon III A (Ritz Carlton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lisa Gennetian, National Bureau of Economic Research; New York University
Several excellent data sets are available to examine questions about early care and education of children in the United States with a range of items to address questions about utilization of certain types of care, quality, hours and relationships of these characteristics to children’s developmental outcomes.  No data set, however, can offer a comprehensive current picture of total household utilization of early care and education, patterns of care by various constellations of household structure of adults and children, cost of such care, and furthermore, whether such household decision making appears to differ for those who are higher or lower income or residing in higher or lower income communities.  One of the many unique features of the National Survey of Early Education and Care is the capacity it offers to answer these types of questions at both the household- and child-level, as compared to most existing in-depth studies of early care and education, which collect data on a focal child only.  

This paper will present household and child level patterns of early care and education utilization overall in the U.S., by type of care, by age of child differentiating elementary school age children from younger children, and importantly by household income and low, moderate and high poverty community level.   We will describe use of center-based programs (whether community-based, school-based or elsewhere, and funding auspices), nonparental home-based providers whether paid or not or whether the provider is related to the child, and cost and cost-burden of care for the household overall.  To the extent possible we will take advantage of the NSECE sampling design to unpack utilization of Head Start as compared with pre-K, or combinations therein. This is important because current policy discussions see expansion of public Pre-K as a means of providing universal care to 3 & 4 year olds and expansions of Early Head Start as a means of providing care for children less than 3. 

The Household Survey data file contains interview data from 11,629 households (unweighted) with children under age 13 years. Data were collected on 21,665 children who are roughly between birth and 13 years old, and 28,672 household members aged 13 years or older including the household survey respondent.  The Household Survey sample was selected from census tracts that had been stratified into one of two groups—high- and low-density low-income areas—to oversample low-income households. Almost 70 percent of household interviews were conducted with households in high-density low-income areas, although their weighted proportion of the sample is just 37 percent. As a result of the national scope of the NSECE and the sampling design, we will also examine patterns of early care education and use in mixed income communities, with particular interest in those lowest income households who reside in moderate to low poverty communities as compared with lowest income households who reside in high poverty communities.