Introduction and summary
More than two-thirds of the nation’s children have all available parents in the workforce, making child care a critical support not only for children’s early learning and development but also for caregivers to be able to go to work, school, or job training. Across the country, child care access and affordability, as well as job quality for the professionals who make up the sector, has long suffered systemic shortfalls that drive up prices, limit options for care, and leave child care providers and workers vulnerable to broader market changes. This is largely driven by a “classic market failure,” where demand for child care exceeds supply and child care providers do not earn enough to sustain the sector without public investment. The crisis affects all families with young children—and indirectly affects broader economic conditions—but financially vulnerable families are particularly at risk when changes to the child care sector further affect prices, accessibility, and program quality. It is critical to understand the nature of the families most deeply affected by this crisis, and having access to available data on child care affordability, workforce conditions, program quality, and more, will help policymakers and advocates institute and inform changes that best serve the needs of children and their families.
This data dashboard provides an overview of the child care and early learning landscape at the national level and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The resource includes a set of data indicators describing 1) demographics and population characteristics of young children; 2) the cost of child care; 3) access and supply of child care; 4) average wages and employment of child care workers; 5) state exclusionary discipline policies for early care and education programs; 6) Head Start enrollment and program access; and 7) state child care program standards.
These national and state-by-state data make it abundantly clear that high-quality child care and early learning opportunities are unaffordable and inaccessible for far too many families across the United States.
Taken together, these national and state-by-state data make it abundantly clear that high-quality child care and early learning opportunities are unaffordable and inaccessible for far too many families across the United States. The time is long overdue for large-scale public investments in a child care system that truly meets the needs of all families while also promoting fair compensation for the essential work of early childhood educators. Expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care and early learning opportunities has proven benefits for children, families, and the economy overall, with investments paying for themselves many times over in the long term.
The sections below discuss national trends and provide narrative context on variables included in the data dashboard. Each category highlights key findings, longitudinal trends, and takeaways for understanding the landscape of child care and early learning in the United States. A list of all dashboard variables, including details on sources and methodology, can be found here. Please note that several variables discussed in this national profile are only available at the national level and not the state level.
Explore state-specific data.
Demographics and overview
The demographics and overview section of the dashboard includes 10 national-level descriptive indicators—nine of which are also available at the state level—on the population of young children and their families. Variables include the number of young children, the percentage of children under age 6 in poverty, and the percentage of children under age 6 with all available parents in the workforce.
Population and demographics by race and ethnicity
As of 2022, there were an estimated 22.1 million children under the age of 6 in the United States, a slight decline from 2015.1 As a subset, the population of young children is more racially and ethnically diverse than the overall U.S. population. In 2022:
- 53.5 percent of children under age 6 were children of color, while people of color comprised just 42.3 percent of the overall U.S. population.2
- 26.3 percent of children under age 6 were Hispanic, while this group comprised just 19.1 percent of the overall U.S. population.3
- 8.1 percent of children under age 6 were two or more races, non-Hispanic, while this group comprised just 6.0 percent of the overall U.S. population.4
- 12.7 percent of young children were Black, non-Hispanic, while this group comprised just 11.9 percent of the U.S. population.5
Living in poverty during early childhood has long been documented as an adverse experience that can have profound and long-lasting negative effects on health and development,6 with measurable impacts on the developing brain even during early infancy.7 While the poverty rate for children under age 18 is already higher than the national average, children under age 6 are even more likely to live in poverty, making them the poorest age group in the United States.8 In 2022, 15.9 percent of children under age 6 were living in poverty as measured by the official poverty measure (OPM).9 That same year, the federal poverty threshold for a family of four with two children was $29,678.10 Meanwhile, the poverty rate for children under age 6 as measured by the supplemental poverty measure (SPM) more than doubled from a historic low of 5.3 percent in 2021 to 12.9 percent in 2022.11
Official and supplemental poverty measures
It is important to note that the official poverty measure (OPM) is not a comprehensive measure of family economic security and does not take into account many families who struggle to afford basic needs and services but may have incomes above the poverty threshold.12 The OPM, which was developed in the 1960s based on the estimation that food costs make up approximately one-third of the average American family’s expenses, has remained unchanged over time apart from annual adjustments for inflation and does not consider geographic differences or take into account other significant household costs, such as housing, transportation, child care, and medical expenses.13
The supplemental poverty measure (SPM), a second measure that the U.S. Census Bureau has released since 2011, provides a more comprehensive view of poverty by including additional considerations in its methodology.14 For instance, the SPM takes into account government benefits, taxes, and costs adjusted for geographic differences. It also expands the family definition to include additional household members not related by blood, marriage, or adoption.15
The 2022 update of the SPM demonstrates this difference and reflects the impact of public policy decisions that failed to build on poverty alleviation programs rolled out in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.16 While U.S. poverty under the OPM stood at 11.5 percent in 2022, which was not significantly different from the 11.6 percent rate in 2021, poverty measured using the SPM spiked from a historically low rate of 7.8 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022, exceeding pre-pandemic poverty levels.17 Meanwhile, poverty for children under age 6 more than doubled from 5.3 percent in 2021 to 12.9 percent in 2022,18 highlighting the imperative for policymakers to permanently adopt proven strategies to improve child- and population-level economic security, including through increases to the minimum wage, enhancements to the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and improved food security.19
Early childhood poverty under the supplemental poverty measure more than doubled from 5.3 percent in 2021 to 12.9 percent in 2022.
Although the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement does not include a large enough sample size to accurately estimate the SPM of young children in each state,20 estimates of the state-by-state OPM calculated using the American Community Survey can be used to illustrate the distribution of early childhood poverty rates across the United States. According to these estimates, children under the age of 6 live in higher rates of poverty than the overall population in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.21 State-level early childhood poverty rates in 2022, as measured using the OPM, range from 7.6 percent in New Hampshire to 29.7 percent in West Virginia, with the highest rates of early childhood poverty concentrated in the South.22
Children of color experience especially high rates of poverty, an effect driven by a long history of systemic racism that has perpetuated racial wealth gaps and cycles of generational poverty; 30 percent of Black children, 29 percent of American Indian children, and 22 percent of Hispanic or Latino children under 18 lived in poverty as of 2022, compared with just 16 percent of all children under the age of 18.23
Data on Poverty in the United States
Explore CAP’s poverty data tool.
While the United States typically has one of the highest child poverty rates among industrialized nations,24 the past three decades have seen a historic decline, driven in part by higher state minimum wages, increases in single mothers’ workforce participation, and expansions to the social safety net.25 In fact, the official poverty rate for U.S. children under age 6 fell from 23.7 percent in 2015 to 15.9 percent in 2022,26 and the supplemental poverty rate for children fell from 17.3 percent in 2015 to 12.9 percent in 2022.27
Meanwhile, the American Rescue Plan Act’s expanded child tax credit (CTC) helped protect millions of children from falling into poverty amid the widespread economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.28 But these investments were only temporary. Upon the expiration of the expanded CTC in December 2021, nearly 4 million children were plunged back into poverty, clearly illustrating the role of public policy in mitigating harmful economic circumstances for families across the country.29
Adverse childhood experiences
An estimated 9.4 percent of children under the age of 5 have experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in their life.30 Toxic stress resulting from ACEs—which may include witnessing violence in the home or community, living with someone who is mentally ill or severely depressed, experiencing racism or discrimination, or struggling to afford basic needs—can negatively affect brain development and immune and stress-response systems.31 Moreover, exposure to multiple ACEs at once, especially over an extended period, places children at a particularly high risk of later chronic health problems and poorer academic and economic outcomes down the road.32
While child care is vital for children’s early learning and development, it is also an essential workforce and economic support for many families with young children. More than 14.4 million, or 67.8 percent, of children under age 6 have all available parents in the workforce,33 and 2.7 million parents report making job changes due to issues with child care.34 Although these data are not disaggregated by gender, numerous studies demonstrate that women disproportionately and overwhelmingly make career sacrifices and suffer pay cuts due to issues with child care, leading to more significant disparities in lifetime earnings for women who become mothers.35 This is compounded by the fact that women are less likely than men to receive pay when they take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)-type leave, including caring for and bonding with a child.36
A lack of paid leave after the birth of a child is one of many structural factors that contributes to the nation’s child care crisis. When parents cannot take leave to care for their newborns or are forced by economic necessity to return to work sooner than they may otherwise choose to, demand for an already scarce supply of infant and toddler care significantly increases. Notably, low-income workers are less likely to have access to both paid leave and even unpaid, job-protected parental leave.37 Moreover, when low-income workers do have access to paid leave, their economic contributions—particularly for women of color and sole or primary breadwinners—may be so integral to their families’ financial stability that they are unable to afford to take unpaid leave at all.38
Percentage of children under age 6 who have all available parents in the workforce
Number of parents across the United States who report making job changes due to issues with child care
Cost of child care
The cost of child care section of the dashboard includes seven state- and national-level indicators on child care costs and subsidies. Variables include average annual tuition costs for children in center- and family-based care and the percentage of eligible children under age 6 who receive child care subsidies.
Families struggle to afford child care
Families across the United States struggle to afford child care and early learning options that meet their needs. Too many families spend far more than the federal affordability benchmark—7 percent of annual household income—for child care.39
Child care is a labor-intensive industry, requiring skilled workers who provide a significant amount of hands-on care. Small teacher-child ratios and group sizes and rigorous safety standards are necessary for the safety and well-being of young children, especially in infant and toddler programs. At the same time, it is expensive to provide high-quality child care services, meaning that without supplementing their expenses with parent tuition or state or federal funding streams, providers and child care workers often incur the cost of maintaining operations through reduced wages, hours, services, or other resources, which negatively affects program quality.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a typical U.S. child care business operated with approximately a 1 percent profit margin.
The U.S. child care system, accordingly, has been described as a “classic market failure,” where demand exceeds supply and a gap exists between what most families can pay and the cost of providing high-quality care.40 Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a typical U.S. child care business operated with approximately a 1 percent profit margin.41 The vast majority of child care providers simply cannot afford to pay workers competitive wages because doing so would require programs to increase tuition beyond what families can pay. During the height of the pandemic, federal relief dollars were essential in keeping 220,000 providers afloat and protecting child care for as many as 10 million children.42 However, as these funding packages were only designed to provide temporary relief, the expiration of this funding, along with historic underinvestment in the sector, has resulted in a child care industry that is unsustainable, inaccessible, and unaffordable.
Average annual tuition in 2022
Center-based child care:
- One infant: $13,167
- One 4-year-old: $10,472
- One infant and one 4-year-old: $23,639
Family-based child care:
- One infant: $9,505
- One 4-year-old: $8,645
- One infant and one 4-year-old: $18,15143
While subsidies help many low-income families offset child care expenses, they fall far short of need and do not sustainably address issues with the high cost of child care. As of 2020, the most recent year for which this statistic is available, an estimated 14.5 percent of children under age 6 who met federal subsidy eligibility standards actually received them.44
Percentage of qualifying low-income children under age 6 who receive child care subsidies
Yet even if subsidies reached all eligible children, the subsidy rates many states use would fail to meet child care providers’ true financial needs. Most states currently determine reimbursement rates through market rate surveys, which significantly underestimate the true cost of care and reinforce inadequate wages and benefits.45 In contrast, using cost modeling as a basis for subsidy reimbursement—as is the case in the District of Columbia and New Mexico—allows providers to cover the real cost of high-quality care and invest more sustainably in their future through higher wages and better facilities.46
Child care access and supply
The child care access and supply section of the dashboard includes five state- and national-level indicators on public preschool access and child care deserts. Variables include the percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in public preschool and the percentage of the population in each state and the population of the overall U.S. population living in a child care desert.
Child care deserts
Child care is not only unaffordable; it is also inaccessible for a vast number of families across the United States. While geographic proximity is not the sole factor families weigh when considering child care options, finding a spot in a child care program close to home or work often presents a significant challenge. In 2016, the Center for American Progress introduced a working definition of a child care desert—an area with an insufficient supply of licensed child care, measured as a census tract where there are either at least 50 children under the age of 5 with no child care options or more than three young children for every licensed child care spot.47 While child care deserts, as defined, focus exclusively on licensed care options, parents and caregivers rely on a range of child care types, including unlicensed family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) care, to supplement what is otherwise an unmet need. Many families may prefer FFN care due to these settings offering greater affordability, more flexible hours, and shared language, culture, and values. Unfortunately, FFN providers—who are disproportionately immigrants, limited English proficient, low income, and women of color—face barriers in licensure and are largely overlooked by public funding and systems of support that are necessary for increasing worker compensation.48
CAP found that, amid the 2018 landscape of licensed or registered child care providers across the country, more than half—an estimated 51 percent—of the U.S. population lived in a child care desert, with disproportionate impacts felt by low-income communities, Hispanic or Latino communities, and other communities of color.49 This figure ranges from 22 percent in Maine to 77 percent in Utah.50 While stabilization grants were essential in keeping many providers afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, case-study examples indicate that many areas across the country have experienced a decrease in child care supply, leading to a growth in new child care deserts.51 Additional research suggests that worsening child care deserts likely had the most substantial impact on Black, Hispanic, rural, and low- or middle-income communities.52
U.S. Child Care Deserts
Explore CAP’s research on child care deserts
Public preschool programs—state-funded and -run early childhood education programs serving children ages 3 and 4—are an essential part of child care supply.53 However, most children lack access to high-quality, publicly funded preschool.54 Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, only 34 percent of 4-year-olds and 6 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded public preschool.55 Enrollment declined after the start of the pandemic, with only 29 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds enrolled during the 2020-2021 school year.56 While more children are accessing public preschool now than during the early stages of the pandemic, national rates remain below pre-pandemic levels.
The workforce section of the dashboard includes three state- and national-level indicators on early educators’ wages and employment. Variables include median hourly wages for child care workers and preschool teachers and child care sector jobs.
Child care wages
The child care and early learning workforce is underpaid and undervalued.57 Despite the crucial nature of their work in supporting the growth, learning, and development of young children, early childhood educators—overwhelmingly women and disproportionately women of color—are paid poverty wages with few, if any, benefits. Many child care providers cannot afford to raise wages because doing so would raise tuition beyond what most families are able to pay. While preschool teacher median hourly wages are slightly higher than those of child care workers, wages overall have remained far too low and stagnant over time. When adjusting for inflation, wages between 2015 and 2022 increased by only $1.70 for child care workers and $0.10 for preschool teachers.58
Child care jobs
The estimated number of workers in the child care sector declined by 373,100 from February 2020 to April 2020, after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.59 While employment in the child care sector increased slowly after the spring of 2020, employment numbers in October 2023 remained about 38,200 workers below February 2020 levels. At the current rate of increase, it will take until September 2024 to reach pre-pandemic employment—three and a half years after the initial job losses.60 Notably, job recovery in the child care sector has been slower than in other pandemic-affected sectors such as retail trade and leisure and hospitality.61 At the same time, child care job postings remain high, indicating that the sector is facing hiring challenges.62 Low wages and poor benefits across the sector lead to high turnover rates and challenges finding and retaining qualified educators.63
As noted above, the early childhood education workforce is overwhelmingly women and disproportionately women of color. Indeed, an estimated 97 percent of early educators are women and 38 percent are women of color—much greater than their share of the general population.64 In particular, non-Hispanic Black women make up 16.7 percent and Hispanic women make up 16.4 percent of the workforce.65 The underpaid and undervalued labor of child care workers has direct historical roots to the forced labor of enslaved Black women in caring for white children.66 Even after the 13th Amendment passed, the limited jobs available to Black women were often domestic labor and care jobs, meaning that many Black women continued to care for white children with minimal compensation.67 Historic legislation that intentionally excluded domestic workers, and thus a significant number of Black women and other women of color, from key labor protections have contributed to low wages and poor benefits that persist in the child care workforce today.68 While compensation for child care workers overall is insufficient, research demonstrates that Black early educators earn lower wages than their peers, even when controlling for level of educational attainment.69 Black and Hispanic early educators are also more likely to be relegated to positions with lower wages, such as assistant teacher or aide jobs.70
Despite ongoing oppression and exclusion, women of color—and Black women in particular—have been leaders in the movement for child care, organizing community-led solutions such as family child care networks to fill child care needs in the absence of federal or state support.71 Black mothers and civil rights activists were also leaders in advocating for and ensuring the continuation of Head Start, especially in low-income Black communities in the South for whom high-quality early care and education access was particularly limited.72
The exclusionary discipline section of the dashboard includes six state-level indicators on statewide policies aimed at reducing suspensions and expulsions in early care and education settings. Variables include whether the state has a statewide policy aimed at reducing or eliminating exclusionary discipline in early care and education settings, what programs are covered by the policy, and whether the policy includes language or goals on equity.
Suspensions and expulsions harm young children and families
No child should miss out on critical learning experiences simply due to behavior, and young children are excluded at a high rate from early education programs through suspension and expulsion. The use of exclusionary discipline is harmful to young children and their families and disproportionately affects Black children—especially Black boys73—and children with disabilities.74 These children who are expelled or suspended from early care and education settings are more likely to be expelled or suspended later in their schooling years, drop out of school, hold negative attitudes toward school, fail or be held back a grade, and face incarceration later in life.75 A child’s suspension or expulsion can also be stressful to families who may struggle to find alternative child care arrangements. In addition, children may miss out on intervention and supportive services that could help set them up for success in later schooling and beyond.
Unfortunately, a lack of reliable and comprehensive data on early childhood discipline limits policymakers’ ability to evaluate the effectiveness of policies aimed at reducing exclusionary discipline and perpetuates systemic inequities that disproportionately harm Black children, families, and communities.76 Additionally, the privatized nature of the child care industry results in policies and data collection practices that differ dramatically between states.77 While policy alone will not eliminate harsh and inequitable discipline in early learning settings, some states have begun acknowledging and addressing the issue through policymaking.
Across the nation, 31 states and the District of Columbia have in place some statewide policy aimed at reducing the use of exclusionary discipline in early care and education settings.78 Due to the privatized nature of the child care landscape, however, many of these policies apply only to a portion of early care and education programs, such as state-funded preschool or programs that receive subsidies. Among states with some policy in place, 13 have rules that have been codified in legislation, seven have statewide rules or regulation, and 12 have program-specific requirements. An additional three states have policies that only rise to the level of guidance, and six states have nonenforceable program recommendations on exclusionary discipline. Finally, written policies explicitly prohibiting suspensions and/or expulsions for some or all programs exist in 18 states, and 15 states have language in their policies specifying goals about equity.
It is important to note that simply banning exclusionary discipline through policy is not enough to eliminate suspensions and expulsions and the disproportionate harm these practices have on Black children in particular.79 Some programs may still exclude children through “soft expulsions,” “pushout,” or by repeatedly asking a parent to pick their child up early.80 It is also necessary to ensure program providers and teachers have the knowledge and resources needed to respond to challenging behaviors in the classroom in a sensitive and culturally affirming manner. While 22 states currently require, and 14 states encourage, early care and education programs to seek and use supports such as mental health consultations when dealing with challenging behaviors, support services are often in short supply, limiting their reach and effectiveness.81
The Head Start section of the dashboard includes eight state- and national-level indicators on Head Start enrollment and access. Variables include funded and cumulative enrollment for Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start as well as the percentage of children in poverty served by Head Start and Early Head Start.
Head Start and Early Head Start access
Head Start, which officially began in the summer of 1965, is the longest-running publicly funded early learning program in the United States and is a powerful example of how access to high-quality early learning, intervention services, and wraparound family supports can have long-lasting positive impacts on young children.82 Head Start launched as an anti-poverty program83 with deep roots in the Civil Rights Movement,84 and family and community involvement were part of its model from the beginning. While Head Start and Early Head Start continue to be crucial levers for promoting both social justice and child and family well-being, insufficient funding has limited these programs’ reach to only a portion of all eligible children.85 Even before the pandemic, additional funding was needed to serve all eligible children, especially in areas with limited or no supply of other high-quality early education programs.
As of the 2022-2023 school year, Head Start only served 35.5 percent of preschool-aged children in poverty,86 while Early Head served only 10.9 percent of infants and toddlers in poverty.87 While this represents an increase from the previous year and from the 2020-2021 school year, Head Start programs are still serving a smaller percentage of children in poverty than they did before the pandemic. In the 2018-2019 school year, for instance, an estimated 49.4 percent of children in poverty were served by Head Start; but this number dropped sharply in the 2020-2021 school year, during which programs only served 31.2 percent of preschool-aged children in poverty.88 In this same period, the percentage of infants and toddlers in poverty served by Early Head Start dropped by less than 2 percentage points, from 11.6 to 10 percent.89 While this figure remains low today, it has gradually increased over time, as just 6.4 percent of infants and toddlers in poverty were served by Early Head Start during the 2014-2015 school year.90
Funded enrollment numbers—the number of children supported by Head Start and Early Head Start funds in a program at any given time during the year—have declined gradually over time, which can in part be attributed to an increase in the number of children enrolled in full-day programs and an increase in the number of infants and toddlers served by Early Head Start.91 Meanwhile, Head Start’s cumulative enrollment—the actual number of children served throughout an entire program year, including enrollees who may have left or been replaced by other participants—sharply declined after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; and while cumulative enrollment increased from 2020-2021 to 2021-2022, it remains well below pre-pandemic levels.92 Notably, cumulative enrollment for Early Head Start has increased from 2014-2015 and remained relatively stable even after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.93
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Head Start enrollment is concerning, especially considering research that indicates the pandemic has negatively affected young children’s school readiness, emotional regulation skills, and motor and social development.94 Access to high-quality early learning experiences and wraparound supports has proven to have positive impacts for low-income children, buffering early learning gaps and improving long-term academic, social, economic, and health outcomes.95 Reduced enrollment also has limited the ability for Head Start programs to identify early signs of developmental delays and disabilities and pair children with appropriate supportive services.
The post-pandemic decline in enrollment is likely due to several factors, including family public health concerns, disruptions in program recruitment and community outreach, and changes in family work schedules, alongside significant ongoing child care worker staffing challenges. Expanding outreach to eligible families, targeting underrepresented communities in outreach efforts, and continuing to highlight the benefits and safety of Head Start programs may improve access rates. However, difficulties recruiting and retaining early educators—as is the case across much of the child care sector—will continue without greater long-term state and federal investments to improve worker compensation, benefits, and job quality.
State program standards
The state program standards section of the dashboard includes four state-level indicators on state child care program standards. Variables include whether state standards meet or exceed a series of benchmarks for maximum group size and child-teacher ratios at several child ages.
Group size and child-teacher ratio standards
Small child-teacher ratios and group sizes are essential in early care and education settings: Standards are in place not only to improve child health and safety, as young children need a significant amount of hands-on care, but also to improve the quality of caregiving and increase interactions between children and their caregivers.96 The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program, for example, requires states to describe their established standards for child-teacher ratios and group sizes in their CCDF plans, which are submitted every three years.
While no national benchmarks exist for health and safety standards, the Early Head Start and Head Start program standards can be used as a benchmark for those programs that promote high-quality early childhood care and learning and optimize individual interactions between children and their caregivers.97 State-by-state data included in this dashboard measure whether each state’s standards—as described in their most recent available CCDF plans—meet or exceed Head Start and Early Head Start group size and child-teacher ratio standards at a series of ages:
- State standards for programs serving infants and toddlers meet or exceed child-teacher Early Head Start ratio standards for at least one age group in 35 states and the District of Columbia.98
- Maximum group size standards meet or exceed Early Head Start standards for at least one age group in 22 states and the District of Columbia.99
- State standards for programs serving preschool-aged children meet or exceed the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) child-teacher ratio benchmark for at least one age group in 30 states and the District of Columbia.100
- Maximum group size standards meet or exceed Head Start standards in 17 states and the District of Columbia.101
Explore state-specific data.
The child care sector has long faced a crisis that has yet to be addressed by sustainable public investments, resulting in high prices for families, limited options for care, and a child care workforce that remains stretched to the brink. Across the country, families struggle to find and afford high-quality options for care and early learning programs that will best prepare their children for the future. This interactive data resource provides an overview of child care and early learning at both the state and national level that showcases data trends in demographic variables, child care access and affordability, child care workforce compensation and employment, Head Start enrollment, exclusionary discipline policies, and several program quality-related indicators. By understanding who is most deeply affected by this crisis, the conditions of the workforce, accessibility and affordability of care, and quality measures, policymakers can be better equipped to craft legislative solutions that best support children, families, providers, and the economy.
The authors would like to thank Mariam Rashid, Sara Estep, Maureen Coffey, Erin Grant, Jared Bass, Kyle Ross, Anna Lovejoy, Maggie Jo Buchanan, and Molly Weston Williamson for their thoughtful review and support in the development of this report; Maureen Coffey for her data analysis work and review of methodology throughout the dashboard project; Erin Grant, Kyle Ross, and Sara Estep for their fact-checking; Bill Rapp, Mat Brady, and CAP’s incredible Art team for their guidance, expertise, and work throughout this project; Beatrice Aronson, Meghan Miller, Steve Bonitatibus, and Carl Chancellor for their editorial support; and Rasheed Malik for his invaluable thought partnership and mentorship throughout the early stages of this project.