This brief uses new, nationally representative data from The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) —funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—to describe critical elements in the decision-making process of parents and other caregivers regarding the non-parental care of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Respondents (usually parents) in 4,340 households in which the “selected child” is age birth to 60 months were asked about the following types of care: center-based care, family daycare, and care provided by a relative or friend. They were asked to rate each of those types of care on the following characteristics: 1) nurturing environment, 2) educational preparedness (helping children prepare to learn in school), 3) social interactions (teaching children how to get along with other children), 4) safety, 5) affordability, and 6) flexibility for parents. Information is presented concerning three major areas: how parents perceive the different arrangements that are available to them; how and why parents search for care; and when searches for care actually result in a change in arrangement. Information is presented broken down by age of child (infants/toddlers as compared to preschoolers), race/ethnicity, and poverty status, and program and policy implications of these subgroup differences are considered. (Author abstract)
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