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June 2017Vol. 18, No. 4Factsheet Explores Distance Between Children's Homes, Early Care Providers

When parents are choosing early care and education (ECE) providers, the distance of these providers from the child's home—along with their cost, schedule, quality, and availability—is a major factor in the decision-making process. The factsheet How Far Are Early Care and Education Arrangements From Children's Homes? uses mapping data from the National Survey of Early Care & Education (NSECE) to describe distances between children's homes and the regular nonparental care families use for children ages five and younger. For the purpose of the study, regular care refers to ECE for five or more hours per week and can either be center based or an unpaid individual provider. These data can be used to improve the understanding of access to ECE and of how well families' needs and preferences are met by providers.

The following are the study's key findings:

  • Approximately one in four (23.3 percent) children younger than three years in regular care received care only in their own homes, and 1 in 14 children (6.8 percent) between three and five years old in regular care received care only in their own homes.  
  • Regardless of age, approximately half of the children receiving regular, unpaid individual care are cared for only in their own homes.
  • Center-based regular care for children younger than three years was, on average, 4.6 miles from their homes, and for children between three and five years, the average distance was 3.9 miles.
  • Children who are younger and poorer (i.e., approximately below 300 percent of the federal poverty threshold) are more likely to receive regular care in their own homes from nonparent adults living in the same household, such as a grandparent or older sibling. 
  • Distances from the children's homes to center-based care increased with household income.

The factsheet was produced by the NSECE project team and funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is available at (392 KB).