Child Care

Research in this area furthers our understanding of child care as a support for parental employment and for children’s developmental well being, and of the role of child care subsidies in allowing low-income working parents to balance work and family obligations.

Featured Resources

Projects on this Topic

The American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs Assessment Project (AI/AN EC Needs Assessment) seeks to lay the foundation for understanding the need for early childhood services in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.  The project outlines a series of designs for future studies that will inform a national assessment of the unmet need for early childhood care, education, and home visiting services (prenatal to age 5) in tribal communities...

Many human services programs are designed such that individuals must make active decisions and go through a series of steps in order to benefit from them — from deciding which programs to apply for, to completing forms, attending meetings, showing proof of eligibility, and arranging travel and child care...

The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency Capstone project, led by MDRC, synthesized the work of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project and conducted dissemination activities to ensure the results from BIAS were shared with a broad audience of research, policy, and practice stakeholders. BIAS Capstone furthered the dissemination work conducted for BIAS through a range of diverse activities and products...

The Center for Early Care and Education Research: Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL) is a cooperative agreement awarded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The primary goal of the Center...

The overall purpose of the Child Care Administrative Data Analysis Cooperative Agreements is to support Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agencies in conducting rigorous, policy-relevant research that primarily involves the analysis of child care...

This project (aka Design Phase for National Study of Child Care Supply and Demand) developed sampling and methodology options for a National Survey of Early Care and Education, with special focus on low-income households with children ages birth...

ACF’s Hispanic Research Work Group brings together experts in a wide range of content areas relevant to ACF’s mission to assist ACF/OPRE in identifying research priorities concerning low-income, Hispanic families.

ACF launched the Integrated Approaches to Supporting Child Development and Improving Family Economic Security project in September 2015. The goal of the project is to improve understanding of approaches that intentionally combine intensive, high quality, adult-focused services with intensive, high-quality, child-focused programs. Conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, this project will provide options for evaluating these emerging models...

 

The National Study of Child Care of Low-Income Families project studied the low-income child care market in 25 communities in 17 states, with a sub-study to examine the family child care market in 5 neighborhoods drawn from these communities...

The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) documented the nation's utilization and availability of early care and education (including school-age care) in 2012, in order to deepen the understanding of the extent to which families' needs and preferences coordinate well with provider's offerings and constraints. The experiences of low-income families were of special interest as they are the focus of a significant component of early care and education/school-age (ECE/SA) public policy.

This project examined associations between the quality of early care and education settings and child outcomes, asking whether certain thresholds of quality or dosage need to be met or particular aspects of quality need to be present before linkages are apparent. Interrelationships of these factors and relevance for different age groups of children between the ages of birth and 5-years participating in center-based care settings will also be considered...

The project will create resources for States regarding the evaluation of child care quality rating systems (QRSs), systems that have been put in place to measure, monitor, and promote high-quality child care. The project has five goals...

This project investigated how existing work on racial and ethnic disparities could inform more accurate identification and interpretation of ethnic and racial differences in programs administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Through this work, this project...

Since 2000, Congress has appropriated about $10 million per year of Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) discretionary funds to be used for child care research and evaluation. These funds have supported projects that add to our knowledge about the...

The Language Minority Roundtable was a working meeting where invited participants engaged in critical dialogue regarding how research can support efforts of policymakers and practitioners to serve the language and literacy needs of young language...

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...

The purpose of the TANF and CCDF Research Synthesis Project was to inform research planning and support evidence-based decision making related to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) programs...

Effect sizes are increasingly applied to describe the magnitude of findings about program effectiveness across a range of policy contexts. Though more researchers are recognizing the importance of including effect sizes in manuscripts, at times these...

The purpose of the Study of Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-child care) Partnerships was to gain a better understanding of EHS-child care partnerships aimed at supporting quality improvement, child development, and family wellbeing in early childhood settings serv­ing infants and toddlers. The project included...

Technology has become increasingly prevalent in early care and education settings, yet little is known about the effectiveness, function, and requirements for technologies that are available to early childhood programs. The purpose of this project was to review the knowledge base related to the use of technology to support the practice of early childhood practitioners who work directly with children and families. The review was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago...

In 1997, the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) was launched to provide descriptive, nationally representative information on the characteristics, experiences, and development of Head Start children and families, and the characteristics of the Head Start programs and staff who serve them. FACES has historically not included Region XI, whose programs are designed to serve predominantly American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) children and families.

Descriptive study of the range of existing state and local approaches to coordinating early care and education services with other health and human services for children and families with low incomes.

The goal of the Assessing the Implementation and Cost of High Quality Early Care and Education (ECE-ICHQ) project is to:

  • Produce technically sound, systematic measures of the implementation and costs of education and care in center-based settings that serve children birth to age 5
  • Produce implementation and cost measures that can be used with existing measures of quality to examine the variation in ECE center capacities and resources that can make a difference in the experiences of children

Many human services programs are designed such that individuals must make a series of decisions and take a number of active steps in order to realize a benefit. From deciding which programs to apply for, to completing forms, attending meetings, showing proof of eligibility, and arranging travel and child care, program designers often assume that individuals make decisions about how to proceed based on careful consideration of their options and best interests.

The purpose of this project is to assist the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), states, and localities in understanding what drives workforce turnover in the early care and education (ECE) field and to evaluate promising strategies to support recruitment and retention of a qualified ECE workforce. The dynamics contributing to high rates of staff departures in some center-based ECE programs and decreasing supply of family child care providers, including individuals paid to provide noncustodial care, are not well understood.

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families leads and supports investigation of the needs of Hispanic populations served by ACF and of promising approaches to promote social and economic well-being among low-income Hispanic families. The Center’s research focuses on early care and education; poverty reduction and economic self-sufficiency; and fatherhood, family structure, and family dynamics. In addition to generating new research to inform ACF programs and policies to better serve Hispanic children and families, the Center aims to build research capacity by providing tools, resources, and support for the research community and emerging scholars.

Project Overview

The Center for Supporting Research on Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Implementation supports the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in learning from The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Implementation Research and Evaluation Grants program...

Project Overview

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Implementation Research and Evaluation Grants program provides CCDF Lead Agencies the opportunity to (1) plan for and (2) evaluate initiatives and policies related to the CCDBG Act of 2014.

Learn more about OPRE's research on states' and territories' challenges and successes with implementing the interstate background check requirements of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 .

The Child Care Policy Research Partnership (CCPRP) Grant Program supports active collaborations between Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agencies and researchers to investigate questions of immediate relevance to local and national child care policies and practices. The overarching goals of this grant program are to...

The Child Care Research and Evaluation Capacity Building Center (Center) will assess and build the research and evaluation capacities of State, Territory, and Tribal CCDF Lead Agencies. The Center will engage with stakeholders in planning activities and developing strategies. The Center will also focus on supporting individual and organizational research and evaluation capacity to create sustained change that lasts beyond the turnover of individual staff and the changing policies and priorities of federal and state policymakers.

The CCDF Policies Database is a source of information on the detailed policies used to operate child care subsidy programs under the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Since 2008, The Urban Institute has collected, coded, and disseminated the CCDF policies in effect across the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories and outlying areas, using consistent methods across places and over time. The information in the CCDF Policies Database is based primarily on the documents that caseworkers use as they work with families and providers, as well as the CCDF Plans and amendments submitted by States/Territories to ACF, state law, and regulations used by the staff operating the program.

​​​​The Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) Project is a contract to support the provision of expert consultation, assessment, and analysis in child care and early education policy and research to the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The CCEEPRA project conducts various activities related to...

The Child and Family Data Archive (CFData) is the place to discover, access, and analyze data on young children, their families and communities, and the programs that serve them. OPRE funds numerous data collection efforts through research studies on a wide range of early care and education (ECE) topics within and across child care, Head Start, and home visiting.

OPRE’s child and family development work includes research and evaluation projects primarily concerned with child care and child welfare. This portfolio additionally examines the culturally diverse experiences of children and families served by ACF programs.

The purpose of this project is to explore how child care and Head Start programs can improve the quality of services received by young children, while institutionalizing continuous quality improvement activities. The project will design and assess the feasibility of implementing a specific approach to continuous quality improvement (CQI), the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC), to promote the uptake and success of evidence-based practices around social and emotional learning (SEL) in both child care and Head Start settings.

The goal of this project was to develop a new measure that will assess the quality of child care settings, specifically the quality of caregiver-child interactions for infants and toddlers in non-parental care. The new measure is sensitive to the...

The Early Care and Education Leadership Study (ExCELS), funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families, has three goals: (1) fill the definitional and measurement gaps to understand what leadership looks like as defined by who participates in leadership in center-based ECE settings and the ways in which leaders can improve quality experiences for children in ECE settings, (2) develop a short-form measure of ECE leadership, and (3) identify actionable leadership quality improvement (QI) initiatives and methods of evaluating them.

Funds for the Early Care and Education Research Scholars (ECERS): Child Care Dissertation Grant program are available to support dissertation research on child care policy issues in partnership with State Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) agencies or administrators.

Since 2000, CCDF discretionary funds for child care research and evaluation have supported projects that add to our knowledge about the efficacy of child care subsidy policies and programs in supporting employment and self-sufficiency outcomes for parents, and providing positive learning and school readiness outcomes for children.

The Early Care and Education Research Scholars (ECERS): Head Start Dissertation Grant program is designed to build research capacity in and knowledge of effective early childhood interventions with low-income children and families. The grant program provides support for dissertation research conducted by graduate students working in partnership with local Head Start or Early Head Start programs.

In 1997, the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) was launched to provide descriptive, nationally representative information on the characteristics, experiences, and development of Head Start children and families, and the characteristics of the Head Start programs and staff who serve them.

Identifying the competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics) essential to a given profession may help to provide a common language and lens for assessing job performance and provide a clear structure for professional growth and development. The Infant and Toddler Teacher and Caregiver Competencies (ITTCC) project is examining existing efforts...

This project investigates how the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act has affected markets and how states have approached implementation of reauthorization in different ways. The project includes a policy analysis, literature scan, roundtable with stakeholders from the child care field, and analysis of state Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) investments in child care quality improvements.

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation worked in conjunction with the Office of Head Start and the Employment and Training Administration to develop, pilot, and implement a Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) Supplement to the National Agricultural Workers’ Survey (NAWS) from 2009-2016. Even after the supplement was discontinued, the NAWS continues to provide extensive reports of demographic data regarding migrant and seasonal agricultural young children whose families are eligible for MSHS.

The Network of infant/toddler Researchers (NitR) consortium brings together leading applied researchers with policymakers and technical assistance providers responsible for overseeing and supporting early childhood programs serving families during pregnancy and the first three years of life.

The Q-CCIIT PD Tools project developed a research-based professional development system called We Grow Together. As part of We Grow Together, teachers and caregivers work with their professional development providers (mentors, coaches, supervisors) using resources delivered on an interactive website.

This project builds on the earlier OPRE Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Human Services (RED) project. RED helped build a base of knowledge to inform the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)’s identification and understanding of ethnic and racial differences across the service delivery system... 

The Secondary Analyses of Data on Early Care and Education Grants aim to support researchers conducting secondary analyses of data to address key questions of relevance to the goals and outcomes of programs administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in particular the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS).

In 2013, OPRE commissioned four interrelated reports on self-regulation and toxic stress from a team at the Center for Child and Social Policy at Duke University. That team and other experts have since created multiple practice-oriented resources grounded in the initial reports. Together, these reports and resources comprise the ’Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Series.’ 

The Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers (Q-CCIIT) observation tool is a reliable and valid research-based observational tool that measures the quality of interactions between infants and toddlers...

The Tribal Early Childhood Research Center (TRC) seeks to address gaps in early childhood research with American Indian and Alaska Natives through partnerships with tribal Head Start, Early Head Start, child care, and home visiting programs. The goals of the research are:

TRLECE seeks to strengthen the field’s understanding of the role of the child care and early education (CCEE) licensing system in supporting children, families, and key stakeholders (e.g., child care providers, licensing agencies, and state administrators).

Experts agree that the quality of children’s early care and educational experiences is critical for promoting children’s development. However, there is a lack of consensus around which aspects of quality matter most, what levels of quality are essential for promoting children’s development, and how quality enhancement efforts should be designed in order to reliably promote children’s developmental outcomes, particularly in light of the varied landscape of child care, Head Start, and early care and education nationally.