Early Childhood

New Study Identifies Critical Need for More Infant, Toddler Child Care

By Marva Hinton — November 02, 2018 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new study finds that the problem of child-care scarcity is largely due to a lack of care for infants and young toddlers rather than for children from 3-5.

The study by the Center for American Progress, which was released earlier this week, examined available child care in nine states and the District of Columbia and found that it was difficult for families to find licensed child care for the youngest children.

The researchers wanted to take a closer look at what the center calls “child-care deserts,” or areas “where there are three or more children for every licensed child-care slot.”

They analyzed the availability of licensed child care by county in Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Vermont. They also studied the situation in the District of Columbia by ward.

They noted that in these areas there are more than five infants and toddlers for every licensed child-care slot, which is more than three times the ratio for children from 3 to 5.

“It really comes down to the economics of child care,” said Simon Workman, a co-author of the study and the associate director of early-childhood policy at the Center for American Progress.

Workman adds that there’s no economic incentive to open up a center that caters to infants and young toddlers because class sizes have to be small, and tuition and subsidies won’t come close to covering the operating costs.

“If you’ve got eight infants in a classroom with two teachers, you’ve only got revenue from eight infants covering the costs of those two teachers compared to a preschool classroom where maybe you’ve got 20 children covering the costs of two teachers,” said Workman.

While this was a problem everywhere the researchers studied, it was worse in rural areas and in low-income communities.

The researchers used Benton County, Miss., to illustrate this problem. In that rural county, which sits on the Tennessee border, 97 percent of young children have a working parent, but there is not a single licensed child-care provider that accepts infants and toddlers.

In areas designated by the U.S. Census as completely rural, there are nine infants and toddlers for every child-care slot available.

So where does this leave parents?

The researchers point out in some cases parents rely on friends and family to care for their children or take advantage of unlicensed child care. Another common option is for one parent, usually the mother, to drop out of the workforce for a time to care for the children, but that comes with a hefty economic penalty.

“That has a significant impact on family economic security and an impact that lasts way beyond the few years that a mother might take off,” said Workman.

The study provides the example of a 28-year-old woman who takes off three years to care for a child. If she makes the median wage for her age group, the researchers note that she would lose nearly $350,000 over the course of her lifetime in lost wages and retirement benefits.

Suggested Solutions

The researchers call on states to improve data collection on child care. They mention that the nine states included in this study were chosen because they collect data on available child care by age group and make that information available to the public.

They also made several other suggestions to help families contending with a lack of child care such as states offering tax incentives to encourage providers to locate in areas where the need is greatest and providing public funds to support care for infants and toddlers.

The authors also argue that legislators should think beyond preschool. They praise states for work to help make sure 4-year-olds can attend preschool, but ask lawmakers to consider younger children saying that “waiting until preschool to support early-learning programs misses the opportunity to help children during the most important years of their development.”

Image by Getty


Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Early Childhood Opinion Waterford Upstart on Providing Remote Learning to 90,000 Pre-K Kids
Rick Hess speaks with Dr. LaTasha Hadley of Waterford Upstart about its use of adaptive software to close gaps in kindergarten readiness.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Early Childhood Opinion How Two Child-Care Centers Put Competition Aside and Created a Partnership During COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, two early-childhood centers put their competition aside to work together to support families during the pandemic.
Charles Dinofrio
7 min read
Early Childhood New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote
As school districts move to remote instruction for the fall, day-care providers, dance studios, and after-school programs step in to fill school-day child-care gaps.
7 min read
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
Courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston
Early Childhood Will Kindergartens Be Empty This Fall?
As cases of COVID-19 continue to grow, parents around the country are struggling with whether to send their child to kindergarten this fall. Some say they won't.
6 min read
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Courtesy of Satiria Clayton