The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) is an exciting 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, and conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Beginning in the fall of 2011 and through spring 2012, NORC will contact 20,000 eligible households and 30,000 child care providers to participate in the NSECE. The NSECE will gather information from multiple sources to provide rich data on the types of providers of early care and education, as well as the needs, constraints and preferences of families with children age 13 and under as they seek and use non-parental care for their children. The study includes four major aspects of the nation’s provision and use of early care and education:
- Families with children: Parents or guardians of a child or children under age 13 will be surveyed to gain insight as to their early care and education use and needs.
- Centers, Schools and other Programs: Directors of early care and education who can be identified from administrative lists such as state licensing lists, Head Start program records, or pre-K rolls will be surveyed. Additionally we will also be surveying providers at for-profit and non-profit community based pre-schools, and other organizations that provide regular care for children not yet in kindergarten.
- Classroom staff: Instructors, teachers, assistant teachers, or aides working in early care and education classrooms will be selected to provide information about their professional experiences and classroom activities.
- Providers of Home-based Care: Individuals who provide care for children under age 13 (who are not their own) in a home-based setting will be surveyed. Participants will include regulated, licensed or registered home-based providers (such as family day cares) as well as individuals who provide informal care at home, for example, grandmothers, other relatives, neighbors, or baby-sitters who regularly watch children under age 13.
Why is the NSECE so important?
The NSECE will provide urgently needed information about the provision of early care and education (ECE) across the country. The last national survey of child care supply and demand was conducted in 1990. Since then, the use and funding of early care and education has changed dramatically. Many changes in child care systems and policies have occurred over the past 20 years. For example:
- Employment rates of women with young children have grown dramatically.
- Since the 1990s, a growing body of research has called attention to the importance of early care and education for child development and for later life outcomes.
- There has been growing recognition that out-of-school-time programs are important for developmental purposes, as well as for meeting the needs of full-day coverage for school-age children.
- Professional development interventions and opportunities for child care providers have increased through on-site consultation, scholarships for higher education degrees, certification training, and home-visiting programs.
- The Child Care and Development Fund subsidies are now required to be available for license-exempt home-based child care. This has led to home-based providers being considered part of the paid workforce and a core component of early education and care for policy and planning purposes.
- While there had been a significant increase in funding for child care and afterschool programs, growth has slowed down or remained stable in more recent years.
The survey will sample all types of providers including groups often excluded from surveys (e.g., license-exempt providers, Head Start and Pre-K providers, for-profit and non-profit community based pre-schools, home-based day care providers, relatives, neighbors, nannies). The study will also dramatically extend the available resources for understanding how families use, seek, and cope with the ECE choices that are available to them. NSECE will be able to provide a current picture of the supply and demand for child care and early education programs and fill a gap in our understanding of the factors influencing parents’ choice of care for their children. Perhaps most significantly, the NSECE will allow the policy and research communities to merge data from families and providers at the local level -- where the two actually meet & provide care for our children.
The States of Illinois and New York have sponsored supplementary data collection that increases the power of the NSECE data to examine supply and demand issues within those states. These data collection efforts were conducted concurrently with NSECE main study data collection.
Why should I participate?
The NSECE has the potential to benefit federal, state, and local or community-level child care policies. These new data from both parents and providers will enable policy-makers to make more informed decisions about how to improve the fit between what is needed and desired and what is available.
Policy-makers and practitioners at all levels are trying to improve the current system of early care and education without full information—essentially, treating the patient without being able to examine him/her. NSECE can provide the information essential for an accurate diagnosis.
The success of the NSECE depends on your help. It is vitally important that those individuals and organizations that are selected for the survey agree to participate because they represent many others across the nation. Your participation will help to ensure that the nation’s policy-makers, practitioners and parents have an accurate understanding of our nation’s early care and education landscape.
The NSECE Team
NORC is supported in its NSECE activities by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago (including Principal Investigator Robert Goerge), Child Trends, Berkeley Policy Associates, as well as experts from several universities and research entities.