Who Provides Early Care and Education for Young Children with Special Needs? Findings from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education

Publication Date: February 4, 2021
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  • Pages: 8
  • Published: 2021

Introduction

This Snapshot uses data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) to examine caregiving arrangements for young children with special needs to better understand where these children receive early care and education (ECE) services. Findings in this Snapshot are focused on children under age 6 and ECE providers serving children under age 6.

Purpose

We report descriptive findings from household, center-based, and home-based surveys to describe caregiving arrangements for children with special needs and children without special needs. These descriptive findings are a helpful step to support children with special needs, their families, and providers who care for them.

Key Findings and Highlights

According to analyses of the 2012 NSECE:

  • Roughly 5% (1.2 million) of the 23 million children under age 6 in the U.S. had a condition that affected the way their parent cared for them. This condition includes children with diagnosed or undiagnosed disabilities, special health care needs, and behavioral or emotional needs.
  • Nearly a third (32%) of children under age 6 without special needs were cared for solely by their parents, compared to nearly a fifth (19%) of children under age 6 with special needs.
  • Among children with special needs, the most commonly-used nonparental care type was center-based care. Twenty-five percent of children with special needs used center-based care compared to 20 percent of children without special needs.
  • A greater proportion of children with special needs relied on a combination of nonparental care types (20%) compared to their peers without special needs (13%).
  • Thirty-three percent of centers that serve children under age 6 cared for at least one child with a physical condition that affected their care.
  • Twenty-two percent of listed home-based providers that serve children under age 6 cared for at least one child with a condition that affected their care.

Methods

This Snapshot is based on information collected in the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), a set of four integrated, nationally representative surveys (household survey, center-based provider survey, center-based workforce survey, home-based provider survey) that characterize the supply of and demand for ECE in the United States. Though comparisons are present throughout this Snapshot, tests to identify significant differences were not conducted.

Glossary

Children with special needs:
We refer to children with conditions that affect their care as children with special needs. These children may or may not have officially diagnosed disabilities, as their disability status in the survey is unknown. However, they are reported by caregivers to require accommodations.
Provider:
Provider refers to a program providing early care and education services. These providers may be center-based or home-based.
Children under age 6:
Findings in this snapshot include children under age 6, not yet in kindergarten.
Regular care:
Regular care is defined as care that a child attended for at least five hours during the surveyed week.