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Defining and Measuring Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education (ECE): A Guidebook for Policymakers and Researchers

Published: March 16, 2017
Child Care, Early Head Start, Head Start
Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis Project, 2005-2018 | Learn more about this project

This Guidebook addresses the development of a common understanding and approach to measuring access to early care and education.

The Guidebook provides information in four sections:

  1. Clarifying and Defining Access;
  2. Describing the Indicators of Access;
  3. Measuring the Indicators of Access; and 4. Identifying ECE Access Datasets and Sources.

As proposed in the guidebook the definition of early care and education access is:

“Access to early care and education means that parents, with reasonable effort and affordability, can enroll their child in an arrangement that supports the child’s development and meets the parents’ needs.”

The term access has historically had a variety of meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Establishing a common understanding of early care and education access is essential for state and local policymakers responsible for improving access. The same principle applies to how early care and education access is measured.

Last Reviewed: December 18, 2018