Early Childhood Program Participation
Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016
By Lisa Corcoran and Katrina Steinley, American Institutes for Research; and Sarah Grady, Project Officer, National Center for Education Statistics
Approximately 60 percent of children age 5 and younger not enrolled in kindergarten were in at least one nonparental care arrangement that was regularly scheduled at least once a week, as reported by their parents. Among children in a weekly nonparental care arrangement, 41 percent were cared for by a relative (relative care), 22 percent were cared for in a private home by someone not related to them (nonrelative care), and 59 percent were attending a day care center, preschool, or prekindergarten (center-based care). Children may participate in more than one weekly arrangement across the three types of care, such as an arrangement with a relative and at a center. Among all children from birth through age 5 and not yet in kindergarten, 12 percent of children’s parents report having more than one type of regularly scheduled weekly nonparental care arrangement.
Children may also have multiple weekly care arrangements within a single type of care (e.g., different arrangements with two or more relatives). In these instances, the primary care arrangement is defined as where the child spends the most time. Among children with weekly relative care, the primary relative caregiver for 79 percent of children was a grandparent, compared with 13 percent who were cared for by an aunt or uncle and 9 percent whose care was provided by another relative.
Since a child may have multiple weekly arrangements both within and across the three types of care, the child may then have multiple primary care arrangements. Among children who were 3 to 5 years old, the mean length of time they had been in a weekly nonparental care arrangement was longer for children in a primary relative care arrangement (31 months) compared to their primary nonrelative (26 months) or primary center-based care arrangement (17 months).
Among families with any out-of-pocket costs for a primary weekly nonparental care arrangement, the out-of-pocket costs per child for center-based care were higher for children in families with incomes at or above the poverty threshold ($7.65 per hour) compared to children in families with incomes below the poverty threshold ($3.11 per hour).
The most common location for children’s primary weekly center-based care arrangement was a building of its own (47 percent). Other reported locations were a church, synagogue, or other place of worship (19 percent); a public school (18 percent); and various other types of locations (17 percent).
Among children in a weekly nonparental care arrangement who had a parent who reported trying to find care, 86 percent had parents who reported that the reliability of the child care arrangement was very important to them when they chose the arrangement where their child spends the most time. A lower percentage, 77 percent of children, had parents who reported that learning activities were very important. Seventy-two percent reported that the availability of the care provider was very important
Although a higher percentage of children overall had parents who reported reliability as very important in choice of care arrangement, there was variability in the factors most commonly reported as very important by the type of care arrangement. For example, a higher percentage of children in nonrelative primary care arrangements had parents who reported availability of the care provider as very important (80 percent) compared to learning activities (58 percent). In contrast, higher percentages of children in center-based primary care arrangements reported learning activities as very important (83 percent) compared to availability of care provider (69 percent). Additionally, higher percentages of children in center-based care and multiple care arrangements had parents who reported time with other children as very important (74 and 73 percent, respectively) compared to children in relative or nonrelative primary care arrangements (58 and 38 percent, respectively).
Among children whose parents reported difficulty finding child care, a higher percentage (31 percent) had parents who reported cost as the primary reason for difficulty finding care compared to any other reason. Twenty-seven percent reported a lack of open slots for new children. A lower percentage, 22 percent of children, had parents who reported quality as the primary reason for difficulty finding care. Ten percent had parents who reported other reasons, and 9 percent had parents who reported location as the primary reason.
Thirty-six percent of children less than 1 year old had parents who reported a lack of open slots as their primary reason for difficulty finding care. This percentage was higher than that of children who were 1 to 2 years old or 3 to 5 years old (25 percent each).
Approximately 81 percent of children ages 3 to 5 who were not yet in kindergarten had parents who read to them three or more times in the past week; 69 percent had parents who sang songs with them three or more times in the past week; 68 percent had parents who taught them letters, words, or numbers three or more times in the past week; 38 percent had parents who worked on arts and crafts with them three or more times in the past week; and 33 percent had parents who told them a story three or more times in the past week.
To view the complete report go to: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017101.pdf