Panel: New Evidence on the Market for Early Care and Education
(Family and Child Policy)

Friday, November 9, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Hoover - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Ajay Chaudry, Urban Institute
Discussants:  Margaret Burchinal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Taryn Morrissey, American University

Early Care and Education Participation Among Children of Immigrants
Erica Greenberg, Gina Adams and Victoria Rosenboom, Urban Institute

Patterns of Enrollment, Migration, and Classroom Experiences across 3- and 4-Year-Old Publicly-Funded Preschool
Sherri Castle1, Jane E. Hutchison2, Deborah Phillips2, Owen Shochet2 and Anna Johnson2, (1)University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, (2)Georgetown University

What Do Parents Value in a Child Care Provider? Evidence from Yelp Consumer Reviews
Chris M. Herbst1, Kevin Desouza2 and Srivatsav Kandala1, (1)Arizona State University, (2)Queensland University of Technology

Understanding the Role of Market Entries and Exits in System-Wide Improvement Efforts in Early Childhood Education
Justin Brian Doromal1, Daphna Bassok1, Thomas Dee2 and Scott Latham2, (1)University of Virginia, (2)Stanford University

The market for early care and education (ECE) in the U.S. is in a state of rapid change. Some of these changes are driven by accelerating demographic shifts. For example, approximately half of children ages 0 to 4 are non-white, and one-quarter are children of immigrants and refugees (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012; Park et al., 2015). These changes have translated into growing numbers of minority children who participate in center-based programs (Magnuson & Waldfogel, 2005). Other changes have been driven by structural shifts in the ECE market itself, as well as the growing presence of policies aimed at increasing program quality. First, the nation’s mix of publicly-funded programs has witnessed dramatic modifications, ranging from Head Start’s new teacher education requirements and the mandate to serve younger preschool-age children to the exponential rise of state-administered pre-k programs. Second, the private ECE market is now subject to a growing number of accountability measures, primarily driven by the implementation of state-run Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). QRIS has placed newfound competitive pressures on programs to improve or exit the market.

This rapidly changing landscape places new demands on ECE consumers—native and immigrant families alike as well as low- and high-income families—and providers—including those in both the public and private sectors. For consumers, the expanding program-types coupled with the growing policy focus on quality means that navigating the ECE market is likely to be increasingly complicated. Making optimal decisions requires parents to have good information on program quality, and to be able to distinguish low- from high-quality programs. However, the literature suggests that parents may not be able to accurately assess the characteristics and quality of their child care options. For providers, there is growing interest in whether accountability systems like QRIS lead to market-wide improvements, either by low-quality programs adapting their practices, exiting the market, or some other mechanism. To date, however, no such literature exists on this topic.

This panel brings together four (4) papers that, using different data sources and methodologies, shed new light on (i) how parents navigate the ECE market, paying careful attention what programs are selected by families (and what characteristics of these programs are valued), and (ii) whether ECE programs improve over time, and the extent to which program entries and closures are responsible for market-wide changes in quality. The first two papers use rich data on low-income immigrants and low-income families in Tulsa, OK, respectively, to study patterns and predictors of ECE enrollment prior to kindergarten. The third paper studies parent perceptions and valuations of their ECE provider by exploiting consumer reviews from the website The final paper analyses the provider-side, exploiting data from NC’s QRIS to understand whether the observed market improvements there are explained by low-quality program closures, high-quality entries, or those that remained open (and improved) throughout the observation period.

See more of: Family and Child Policy
See more of: Panel