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Supporting Quality in Home-Based Child Care: Initiative Design and Evaluation Options

Published: March 30, 2010
Child Care
Supporting Quality in Home-Based Child Care, 2007-2010 | Learn more about this project

Home-based child care—including regulated family child care and exempt care provided by family, friends, or neighbors—forms a significant part of the child care supply in the United States. It is the most common form of nonparental care for infants and toddlers (Brandon, 2005). Although proportions of children vary by study, researchers estimate that more than 40 percent of all children under age 5 are in these settings (Johnson, 2005). Home-based child care is an important source of care for low-income families, and it represents a significant proportion of the child care used by families that receive child care subsidies (Child Care Bureau, 2006). Parents use these arrangements for a variety of reasons, including convenience, affordability, flexibility, trust, shared language and culture, and individual attention from the caregiver.

In the past decade, a growing recognition of the role that home-based child care settings play in the child care supply has prompted policymakers, researchers, and child care administrators to seek more information about this type of care and strategies for supporting its quality. Efforts have been made by researchers and program administrators 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 (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (ACF/DHHS) funded a research project, Supporting Quality in Home-Based Child Care, to (1) systematically gather information from the varied research and development initiatives that exist, (2) synthesize the available evidence on home-based care, and (3) propose next steps for designing and evaluating quality initiatives.

Last Reviewed: April 29, 2019