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Supporting Quality in Home-Based Child Care, Final Brief

Published: March 31, 2010
Child Care
Supporting Quality in Home-Based Child Care, 2007-2010 | Learn more about this project

Home-based child care—regulated family child care and child care provided by family, friends, and neighbors who are legally exempt from regulation—accounts for a significant share of the child care supply in the United States.  Researchers estimate that more than 40 percent of all children under age 5 receives care in these settings (Johnson, 2005), although the proportions of children in home-based child care vary by study. It is the most common form of child care for infants and toddlers (Brandon, 2005). Home-based child care also represents a significant proportion of the child care arrangements of families who use child care subsidies (Child Care Bureau, 2006).

In the past decade, recognition of the role that home-based child care plays has prompted an increasing interest in this type of child care among policymakers, child care administrators, and researchers. Researchers and child care administrators have endeavored to estimate the prevalence of home-based child care, to assess its quality, and to develop quality initiatives for home-based caregivers. These data collection and development efforts, however, have been largely scattered and small scale.

In 2007, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded a research project, Supporting Quality in Home-Based Child Care, to: (1) systematically gather information from existing research on home-based child care and on initiatives that aim to support these caregivers, (2) synthesize the available evidence on home-based care, and (3) propose next steps for designing and evaluating initiatives that aim to improve the quality of care in these settings.

The project, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, along with its subcontractor Bank Street College of Education, and consultants from Child Trends, has produced a series of four reports that present a more complete picture of home-based care based on the research evidence. These reports provide useful information for policymakers and administrators who aim to develop or fund initiatives for home-based caregivers and researchers seeking to build the knowledge base about home-based care.

Last Reviewed: April 29, 2019