2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education

2019-05-16 19:48:41 | BioPortfolio


The primary purpose of the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) is to provide a comprehensive picture of both the availability and utilization of early care and education (ECE) in the United States. This study builds on the work of the 2012 NSECE which was the first nationally-representative survey of ECE providers, workers, and households with young children in more than 20 years. Multiple policy and programmatic changes affecting the supply and quality of ECE have been implemented since the last fielding of the NSECE, making this an ideal time to re-map the ECE landscape. The main objectives of the 2019 study include:

- Updating the national portrait of the availability of early care and education for the full spectrum of care providers, including householders and providers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

- Identifying early care and education needs and preferences among households in the United States with children under age 13 as they pertain to supporting both the employment of parents and the development of children.

- Capturing data on all forms of non-parental care for all children in a household.

- Providing the perspectives of both families and providers on the services offered in a system where children are often in multiple arrangements and providers receive funding from multiple sources.

- Linking the data set collected with policy-relevant data.

- Increasing the understanding of the care received by low-income children and how that varies across communities.

The 2019 NSECE consists of a set of four integrated, nationally representative surveys being conducted between January and June 2019. There are surveys of 1) households with children under 13, 2) home-based providers 3) center-based providers, and 4) the center-based provider workforce. Together they characterize the use and availability of early care and education in America and permit better understanding of how well families' needs and preferences coordinate with providers' offerings and constraints. The 2019 NSECE is collecting information in a manner that facilitates comparisons with data collected for the 2012 NSECE and that allows for examination of the changes in the characteristics of households and their use of non-parental care and the changing landscape of ECE programs during that seven-year period.


In order to create a comprehensive portrait of the availability and use of early care and education, the NSECE is fielding a set of four integrated, nationally representative surveys in 2019. These are surveys of 1) households with children under 13, 2) home-based providers 3) center-based providers, and 4) the center-based provider workforce. Together they characterize the supply of and demand for early care and education in America and permit better understanding of how well families' needs and preferences coordinate with providers' offerings and constraints.

The Household Survey is being conducted with a parent or guardian of a child or children under age 13 in households with at least one member child under age 13. Eligible respondents are identified through the Household Screener based only on the presence of an age-eligible child. Screening is being completed by mail, by phone, by web, and in person. All of these interviews are being conducted by an interviewer, primarily in person.

This survey documents the nation's demand for early care and education services. Key questionnaire topics include details on usage of non-parental care, expenditures on non-parental care, parental search behavior for early care and education, and the balance of parental employment with child care needs and availability. These data will help to answer such research questions as 1) Who is caring for America's children when they are not with their parents and do families with different demographic characteristics have different preferences or different patterns of usage? 2) How do families search for care and how does this vary by age of children, characteristics of parents, location, and availability of licensed slots per population? 3) How and how much do families pay for care? and 4) How many families of different characteristics receive public financial support for ECE, and how does this vary by age of child and type of care utilized?

The Home-based Provider Survey is being conducted with individuals who provide care in a home-based setting for children under age 13 who are not their own for five or more hours a week. Two sample sources contribute providers. One, home-based providers who appear in provider sampling frames constructed from state and national lists were sampled for this survey. These providers are designated as 'listed.' Listed providers are primarily licensed or regulated family day care providers, but also include other formally listed home-based providers such as license-exempt providers or providers participating in Early Head Start. Alternatively, households may be identified as eligible based on their responses to the household screener (specifically, that an adult in the household regularly cares for children not his or her own at least five hours per week in a home-based setting). These providers do not appear in the provider sampling frame and are designated as 'unlisted.' Data collection is being conducted by web, in person, and by telephone with field interviewers.

Key questionnaire topics in the home-based provider questionnaire include enrollment and the characteristics of the children served, rates charged for care, and participation in government programs, household composition, qualifications for and attitudes toward early childhood education, use of curricula and activities conducted with children (varied to be appropriate for younger children and school-age children). Portions of the home-based provider questionnaire will contribute to analyses of the ECE workforce and mirror the content of the workforce questionnaire administered to classroom-assigned instructional staff at center-based providers. Other portions of this questionnaire closely mimic the center-based provider questionnaire (see below), so that enrollment, program participation, provider charges for care, attitudes, orientation and activities data can be accurately compared across all different categories of provider.

These data will answer such questions as 1) What kind of early care and education is available across communities throughout the country? 2) How well does the available supply of early care and education support parents' employment? 3) How do different types of providers vary in their characteristics of care and affordability? and 4) Who are the individuals working in early care and education? What are their experiences in terms of employment characteristics, classroom activities, and professional development? What are their attitudes, orientations, and stress and depression levels?

The inclusion of providers identified through the Household Screener will offer invaluable nationally representative data on family, friend and neighbor providers and is one of the pioneering aspects of the NSECE. Investigators will learn about both paid and unpaid care, including how they differ in their characteristics and their availability to families.

The Center-based Provider Survey will be conducted with directors or administrative staff of ECE programs that provide care to children not yet in kindergarten who were identified from the provider sampling frame built from state or national administrative lists such as state licensing lists, Head Start program records, or pre-K rolls. These providers include regulated, licensed, and other private providers as well. The center-based provider questionnaire is preceded by a Center-based Provider Screener that confirms and updates information from the provider sampling frame and determines eligibility for the center-based provider questionnaire. Topics covered by this instrument include enrollment and characteristics of children served, staffing, prices charged, schedules of service, participation in government programs, and staff compensation and professional development policies. The questionnaire also includes the selection of a representative classroom about which more detailed staffing, compensation, and curriculum information are collected. These data constitute a nationally representative sample of ECE classrooms. This instrument will be administered using web, in-person, and telephone interviewing.

The center-based provider questionnaire data will answer such questions as 1) What kind of early care and education is available across communities throughout the country? 2) How well does the available supply of early care and education support parents' employment? 3) How do different types of providers vary in their characteristics of care and affordability? and 4) How many and what types of providers participate in quality improvement efforts such as staff quality ratings and professional development?

The Workforce Survey sample is comprised of one or two classroom-assigned instructional staff members from each center-based provider who completed a center-based provider interview. Workforce respondents are drawn from the center-based provider questionnaire data, in which all staff members have been enumerated from a randomly selected classroom. The questionnaire closely mirrors portions of the home-based provider questionnaire, so that the two data sources together can paint a rich portrait of the paid ECE workforce, including center-based and home-based paid providers. (Individuals who are not paid will be profiled as described in the family, friends, and neighbor section above.) Topics include information about the work setting (activities in the classroom, interactions with parents and other staff, availability of professional development and other supports), roles and responsibilities (lead teacher, teacher, assistant teacher, aide), compensation (wages and benefits), and perceived leadership and morale, as well as personal information about qualifications, attitudes toward ECE, and stress, depression, and demographic information.

The workforce questionnaire is the simplest of the NSECE survey instruments, but these data represent a signal contribution of the study. Before the 2012 study, no nationally representative survey of paid ECE workers had ever been done, yet many of the pressing ECE policy questions require better understanding of home-based care providers' qualifications, access to professional development, motivation for working in the field, and nature of participation in the labor market as well as the extent to which paid home-based providers are more generally available for expanding and improving overall ECE supply. Some of the workforce questionnaire data will allow tabulation by provider program characteristics (such as enrollment size, type of care, geographic location, for-profit/not-for-profit status, and participation in government programs) of factors that have been found in the literature to predict observed quality. These factors include staff qualifications and compensation, use of curricula, availability of professional development, and children's activities while in care. The data will answer such questions as who are the individuals working in early care and education and what are their experiences in terms of employment characteristics, classroom activities, and professional development?

Study Design


Early Care and Education Supply and Demand


No Intervention


NORC at the University of Chicago
United States


Enrolling by invitation


National Opinion Research Center

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-05-16T19:48:41-0400

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