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

The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) documented the nation's utilization and availability of early care and education (including school-age care) in 2012, 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 were 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 nationally-representative samples including interviews in all fifty states and Washington, DC. The survey was conducted through a contract with NORC at the University of Chicago, subcontractors Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Child Trends, Berkeley Policy Associates, and Acumen LLC, and co-PI’s and consultants Lisa Gennetian, Ann Witte, Richard Brandon, Roberta Weber, Lee Kreader, and Deanna Schexnayder.

The NSECE included 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 produced a series of reports and papers as well as public- and restricted-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 are archived at the Child and Family Data Archive Visit disclaimer page

For more information on data collected in 2019, see the National Survey of Early Care and Education 2019 project page

Point(s) of contact: Ivelisse Martinez-Beck and Ann Rivera

This study is registered on ClinicalTrials.gov under the title National Survey of Early Care and Education 2012.

Information collections related to this project have been reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under OMB #0970-0391. Related materials are available at the National Survey of Early Care and Education page Visit disclaimer page  on RegInfo.gov.

The most currently approved documents are accessible by clicking on the ICR Ref. No. 101107-0970-001 with the most recent conclusion date. To access the information collections (E.g. interviews, surveys, protocols), click on View Information Collection (IC) List. Click on View Supporting Statement and Other Documents to access other supplementary documents.

Data are archived at the Child and Family Data Archive Visit disclaimer page https://www.childandfamilydataarchive.org/cfda/archives/cfda/studies/35519 Visit disclaimer page

Related Resources

In the U.S. in 2012, public funding of early care and education (ECE) could come from a variety of programs and levels of government (federal, state, local). This analysis of data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education uses household reports to estimate percentages of children under 5 years who enrolled in 2012 in two types of publicly funded ECE: center-based and paid home-based care...

These snapshots describe U.S. households’ costs for, and usage of, ECE in 2012, looking at differences by age of child, household income, and community urbanicity.

This publication uses data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) to present four sets of tables, summarizing...

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This report offers a national picture of selected segments of the early care and education market by describing how important attributes of the supply and demand for center-based care relate to each other.

This report documents the use of probabilistic record linkage methods to calculate participation in the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program...

This report provides a nationally representative estimate of all home-based care to children ages birth through five years and not yet in kindergarten as of 2012, using data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education.

Home-based providers discussed in the report include both paid and unpaid providers of care. The report describes the characteristics of the providers themselves and the care they provide...

This report draws on data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) to describe characteristics of early care and education centers that participate in Head Start and publicly-funded pre-kindergarten. The supplement to the report provides additional details about the analyses, including information about tabulations and definitions used, as well as a discussion of features of the data that affect how additional analyses might be undertaken...

This methodological report describes how selected predictors of quality can be measured using data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). The report also provides descriptive data for each of the selected predictors of quality. The report considers attributes of early care and education settings that contribute to quality at the following levels...