Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say: Terminology Agnosticism in Child Care Questionnaires

Publication Date: December 2, 2013


Child care survey data and analyses can be improved by stepping away from terminology which may have unclear or multiple meanings to different audiences. This brief, which draws from the Design Study of the National Survey of Early Care and Education, reviews the importance of child care data, as well as some of the pitfalls of misinterpretation of survey items. Through a review of literature, cognitive testing, and feasibility testing, the brief considers terminology issues as they relate to three specific areas: mode of child care; provision of privately arranged home-based care; and payment of fees and receipt of subsidies. The author provides general guidelines for identifying technical terminology and developing alternative wording for child care surveys and discusses implications for improved data quality.

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