National Survey of Early Care and Education

The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) is a nationally representative study that characterizes the use and availability of early care and education (ECE) in the United States. In 2012, the NSECE gathered information from households with young children, center-based and home-based providers, and individuals working with children in center-based classrooms in order to assemble the first comprehensive national portrait of ECE use and availability in more than 20 years. A new NSECE has been proposed for 2019 that would help shed light on how the ECE landscape has changed over the past seven years. The NSECE is funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 2012 NSECE

The 2012 NSECE included a set of four integrated, nationally representative surveys. These were surveys of: 1) households with children under age 13; 2) home-based providers of ECE; 3) center-based providers of ECE; and 4) the center-based provider workforce. Data was collected from more than 10,000 providers and 11,600 households to help better understand how well families’ needs and preferences aligned with providers’ offerings and constraints. The study used a provider-cluster approach for sampling all four surveys from the same small geographic areas. This approach allowed the survey to document the interaction of the supply of and demand for early care and education where it occurs—in local communities—while simultaneously capturing data that efficiently construct national estimates. Because the experiences of low-income families are of special interest in public policy addressing ECE and school-age care, the NSECE oversampled low-income areas.

Data from the 2012 NSECE have been available since 2014. Prior to this, policy-makers and practitioners at all levels had been 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. Data collected from NSECE are providing the essential information for an accurate diagnosis.

A detailed discussion of the 2012 NSECE methodology is currently available here.extlink

Datasets from the 2012 NSECE are available here.extlink

Questions about working with 2012 NSECE data can be directed to nsece@norc.org.

Proposed 2019 NSECE

Because multiple policy and programmatic changes affecting the supply and quality of ECE have been implemented since the last fielding of the NSECE, a new data collection effort has been proposed for 2019 to gather updated information. These data would help to answer several questions including:

  • How do the characteristics of ECE providers compare to what was observed in 2012? Where and how has the supply of ECE services changed?
  • How well is the availability of child care and early education programs meeting the needs of parents and children today?
  • What are the characteristics of the ECE workforce?
  • How do providers blend funding from different sources to cover the costs of serving children from households of different incomes?
  • What motivates providers to provide early care and education?

The proposed 2019 NSECE would follow a similar design to the 2012 study, including surveying households with young children, center-based providers, home-based providers, and staff working in center-based classrooms.

Planning for the 2019 NSECE is already underway and includes the following key milestone dates:

​Winter 2018
​Questionnaire and Sample Design
​Spring/Summer 2018
​Sample Frame Building and Sample Selection
January - May 2019
​Data Collection
March 2020
​First Analytic Results
October 2020
​Public-use Data Files Available

For more information on our planning for 2019, see: https://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/resources/35664extlink

To stay up to date with what’s happening with the National Survey of Early Care and Education, follow the NSECE blog here: https://nsece.wordpress.comextlink

Recent Publications:

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2017). Snapshot: Parent Work Schedules in Households with Young Children. OPRE Report No. 2017-48, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/research/project/national-survey-of-early-care-and-educationnsece-2010-2014

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team. (2016). Early Care and Education Usage and Households’ Out-of-pocket Costs: Tabulations from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). OPRE Report #2016-09, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/resources/32839/pdf

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team. (2016). Households’ Geographic Access to Center-based Early Care and Education: Estimates and Methodology from the National Survey of Early Care and Education. OPRE Report # 2016-08, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/resources/32106/pdf

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2016). Examining Child Care Subsidy Receipt: An Analysis of Matched NSECE and Illinois Administrative Data. OPRE Report #2016-12, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/resources/31561/pdf

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2016). Characteristics of Home-based Early Care and Education Providers: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education. OPRE Report #2016-13, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/resources/31515/pdf

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2016). Fact Sheet: How Far Are EarlyCare and Education Arrangements from Children’s Homes? OPRE Report No. 2016-10, WashingtonDC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S.Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/distance_to_ece_factsheet_111716_b508.pdf

Tout, K., Starr, R., Wenner, J. & Hilty, R. (2016). Measures used in quality rating and
improvement systems (QRIS) validation studies. OPRE Research Brief #2016-110. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/cceepra_measures_in_qris_validation_studies_1222_508.pdf

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2015). Measuring Predictors of Quality in Early Care and Education Settings in the National Survey of Early Care and Education. OPRE Report #2015-93, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/measuring-predictors-of-quality-in-early-care-and-education-settings-in-the-national-survey-of-early-care-and-education

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2015). Prices Charged in Early Care and Education: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). OPRE Report #2015-45, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/prices-charged-early-care-and-education-initial-findings-national-survey-early-care-education-nsece

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2015). Fact Sheet: Provision of Early Care and Education during Non-Standard Hours. (OPRE Report No. 2015-44). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/fact-sheet-provision-of-early-care-and-education-non-standard-hours

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2015). Fact Sheet: Who is Providing Home-Based Early Care and Education? OPRE Report No. 2015-43, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/fact-sheet-who-is-providing-home-based-early-care-and-education

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team (2014). Characteristics of Center-based Early Care and Education Programs: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). OPRE Report #2014-73a, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/characteristics-of-center-based-early-care-and-education-programs-initial-findings-from-the-national-survey-of-early

National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team. (2014). Household search for and perceptions of early care and education: Initial findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) (OPRE Report No. 2014-55a). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/household-search-for-and-perceptions-of-early-care-and-education-initial-findings-from-the-national-survey

National Survey of Early Care and Education Team.  (2013). Number and Characteristics of Early Care and Education (ECE) Teachers and Caregivers: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). OPRE Report #2013-38, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/number-and-characteristics-of-early-care-and-education-ece-teachers-and
 
National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team. (2013). National Survey of Early Care and Education: Summary Data Collection and Sampling Methodology. OPRE Report #2013-46, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/nsece_summarymethodology_toopre_102913.pdf
 
Bowman, M., Datta, A.R., & Yan, T. (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Cognitive Interview Findings Report for Demand Questionnaire. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago.
 
Bowman, M., Datta, A. R., & Yan, T. (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Final Recommendations for the  Demand Questionnaire. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/final_demand.pdf  
 
Bowman, M., & Datta, A. R. (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Cognitive Interview Findings Report for Home-based Provider Questionnaire. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/cog_interview_home.pdf
  
Datta, A. R., & Bowman, M., (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Cognitive Interview Findings Report for Center-based Provider Questionnaire. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/cog_interview_center.pdf  
 
Datta, A. R., George, R., & Witte, A. (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Final Recommendations for the Center-based Provider Questionnaire. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/final_center.pdf
 
Datta, A. R., George, R., & Witte, A. (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Final Recommendations for the Home-based Provider Questionnaire. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/final_homebased.pdf
 
Datta, A. R., George, R., & Yan, T. (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Final Report. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago.
 
Wolter, K.,  Bowman, M., Datta, A. R., George, R., Jr., V. W., & Yan, T. (2010). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Revised Sampling Report and Addendum. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/revised_sampling.pdf
 
Bowman, M., Connelly, J., Datta, A. R., Guiltinan, S., & Yan, T. (2009). Design Phase of the National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand (NSCCSD): Feasibility Test Report. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/feasibility_test.pdf
 
Guzman, L., Forry, N., Rivers, A., Kuhfeld, M., Wandner, L., Atienza, A., …Broege, N. (2009). Design Phase: National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand 2010 Compendium of Measures,  Volume 1: Supply-Side Measures.  Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago.
Available at: http://www.norc.org/PDFs/NSECE/NSECE%20Compendium_Vol%201%20Supply.pdf

Guzman, L., Forry, N., Rivers, A., Kuhfeld, M., Wandner, L., Atienza, A., …Broege, N. (2009). Design Phase: National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand 2010 Compendium of Measures,  Volume 2: Demand-Side Measures.  Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago.
 
Guzman, L., Forry, N., Zaslow, M., Kinukawa, A., Rivers, A., Witte, A., & Weber, B. (2009). Design Phase: National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand -2010. Chicago: NORC at the University of Chicago. Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/literature_review.pdf

Contact the NSECE project team


NSECE Design Phase Reports at the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

NSECE Reports at the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluationextlink

2012 NSECE Analytic Reports at the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

NSECE Reports at the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluationextlink

2012 NSECE Data Files and Documentation

NSECE, 2012 Dataextlink

Project Director


A. Rupa Datta
datta-rupa@norc.org