National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), 2010-2015

Project Overview

The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) documents the nation's current utilization and availability of early care and education (including school-age care), in order to deepen the understanding of the extent to which families' needs and preferences coordinate well with provider's offerings and constraints. The experiences of low-income families are of special interest as they are the focus of a significant component of early care and education/school-age (ECE/SA) public policy. The NSECE collected data from a nationally-representative sample including interviews in all fifty states and Washington, DC.

The NSECE includes five survey components and four related questionnaires.

  • A Household Survey conducted with a parent or guardian of a child or children under age 13. Eligible respondents were identified through the Household Screener. The NSECE data include approximately 12,000 interviews with adults in households with children under age 13.
  • A Home-based Provider Survey conducted with two types of respondents. The first type is Formal Home-Based Providers who were identified on state-level administrative lists (of ECE/SA providers) as providing regulated or registered home-based care, with an estimated total of 4,000 interviews. The second type is Informal Home-Based Providers identified through the Household Screener as caring for children under age 13 who are not their own in a home-based setting (and who do not appear on a state-level administrative list), with an estimated total of 2,000 interviews.
  • The Center-based Provider Survey conducted with directors of ECE/SA programs identified from state-level administrative lists such as state licensing lists, Head Start program records, or pre-K rolls. Eligible respondents were identified through the Center-based Provider Screener. The estimated total of Center-based Provider interview is 8,200.
  • The Workforce Provider Survey conducted with classroom-assigned staff members of Center-based providers completing the Center-based Provider interview. After each Center-based Provider interview was completed, one staff member from that organization was sampled and administered the workforce interview. Approximately 5,600 Workforce members were interviewed. In addition, the Home-Based Provider questionnaire collected workforce information on those working in home-based settings.

The NSECE will produce a series of reports and papers as well as public-use data sets that examine the current state of ECE/SA usage and availability at the local and national levels. The products of this study offer an initial summary of findings, fundamental information about ECE/SA availability and utilization for the government, public and researchers. Reports on the study design can be accessed from the project page for the Design Phase for National Survey of Early Care and Education. Data files from the NSECE are available through Research Connections.

Potential analyses topics from the NSECE include:

  • Utilization of ECE/SA: Results from the 2012 NSECE
  • Availability of ECE: Results from the 2012 NSECE
  • How do families search for care; how does this vary by age of children, characteristics of parents, location, availability of licensed slots per population?
  • How and how much do families pay for care?
  • How do family ECE prices relate to family and community income—the cost burden?
  • How does the type of ECE used relate to employment and other work related activities (e. g., education and training)?
  • Provider policies—age groups cared for, hours/weeks of operation, flexibility, community outreach, admission policies, waiting lists
  • Provider prices and characteristics of care – staffing patterns, range of services offered. How do subsidized and unsubsidized providers compare? How do characteristics of care vary between low-middle income communities?
  • The ECE workforce – age, education, experience, attitudes toward children and parents, wages/benefits, bilingual skills, age of children in care.
  • Caregiving settings/attributes – ratios, staff education and experience, activities conducted
  • Providers' sources of funds and costs of operation
  • Combining availability and utilization data

These analyses distinguish the experiences, accessibility and characteristics of ECE/SAC for children from different income and race-ethnic groups, and locations.

The NSECE was conducted through a contract to NORC at the University of Chicago in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Child Trends. In addition the project involves several Co-Principal Investigators and consultants who each bring unique expertise related to early care and education and school age care research and policy.

Questions about the NSECE?

The point of contact is Ivelisse Martinez-Beck.

  • Prices Charged in Early Care and Education: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)

    Published: May 12, 2015

    The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) is a set of four integrated, nationally representative surveys conducted in 2012 of: 1) households with children under age 13, 2) home-based providers of early care and education (ECE), 3) center-based providers of ECE, and 4) the center-based provider workforce. The four surveys are used to understand the supply of and demand for ECE in the United States. This report focuses on prices charged for ECE by center- and home-based...

  • Fact Sheet: Provision of Early Care and Education during Non-Standard Hours

    Published: May 8, 2015

    The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) includes data from four integrated, nationally representative surveys conducted in 2012 to understand the supply of and demand for Early Care and Education in the United States. This fact sheet on non-standard hours uses data from the NSECE to describe the flexibility of available ECE in the U.S., providing nationally representative estimates of the percentage of ECE providers serving young children (aged birth through 5 years)...

  • Fact Sheet: Who is Providing Home-Based Early Care and Education?

    Published: May 8, 2015

    The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) includes data from four integrated, nationally representative surveys conducted in 2012 to understand the supply of and demand for Early Care and Education in the United States. This fact sheet on home-based care provides the first nationally representative portrait of home-based providers of early care and education, describing individuals who care for other people’s children, age five and under, in home-based settings...

  • Characteristics of Center-based Early Care and Education Programs: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)

    Published: December 4, 2014

    This technical report uses new, nationally representative data—The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), 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—to describe the current landscape of center-based early care and education (ECE) programs in this country. The NSECE includes 4 surveys, and the survey used here, the NSECE Center-based Provider...

  • Household Search for and Perceptions of Early Care and Education: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)

    Published: October 28, 2014

    This brief uses new, nationally representative data from The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) —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—to describe critical elements in the decision-making process of parents and other caregivers regarding the non-parental care of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. 

    Respondents (usually parents) in...

  • Number and Characteristics of Early Care and Education (ECE) Teachers and Caregivers: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)

    Published: November 5, 2013

    What did the early childhood teaching and caregiving workforce look like in 2012? This research brief describes the Early Care and Education (ECE) workforce data developed in the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). The survey focuses on individuals providing direct care and education for children birth through five years and not yet in kindergarten. Findings are based on over 10,000 questionnaires completed in 2012 by a sample of individuals representing about one million...

  • National Survey of Early Care and Education: Summary of Data Collection and Sampling Methodology

    Published: November 5, 2013

    The Summary of Data Collection and Sampling Methodology brief describes the purpose of the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), sampling design and content for the four integrated, nationally representative surveys, and data collection methodology. The brief addresses distinctive features of the NSECE and provides examples of how the data allows for analyses to answer questions of interest to policy-makers and researchers...

More Reports on this Project