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.

More Reports on this Project