New interactive maps and analysis from CAP examine child care accessibility in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Nearly half of ZIP codes are “child care deserts,” impacting more than 27 million people—including 1.8 million children under the age of 5.
Washington, D.C. — In eight states, families in nearly half of ZIP codes live in “child care deserts,” a new analysis from the Center for American Progress shows. Child care deserts are areas with at least 30 children under the age of 5 and either no child care centers or so few centers that there are more than three times as many children under age 5 as there are spaces in centers. In the interactive maps at ChildCareDeserts.org, readers in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia can enter their ZIP code to see whether they are living in a child care desert and compare their ZIP code to neighboring ZIP codes.
“The existence of child care deserts across the country is one more indication that our current child care system is not designed to support today’s working families and, in particular, working mothers,” said Neera Tanden, President and CEO of CAP. “Long waiting lists for child care centers are not just anecdotes but are in fact borne out in reality in many ZIP codes where there is a dramatic undersupply of child care centers. Investing in child care is an urgent priority that is important not only for working families but for child development and for our economy.”
“Two-thirds of children under the age of 6 have both parents in the workforce, so it’s no surprise that access to child care is an issue that is growing in national importance every day. But access to child care is not just about affordability: As these maps show, the mere availability of child care centers is also a substantial problem for working families in many areas,” said Rasheed Malik, Policy Analyst at CAP and co-author of the analysis.
“Child care deserts are a pervasive problem in communities across the country, particularly in rural America. The next president and Congress must work together to invest in our child care infrastructure so that children and parents have access to programs that support early learning and support working families,” said Katie Hamm, Senior Director of Early Childhood at CAP and co-author of the analysis.
CAP’s analysis of state administrative data and ZIP code-level census estimates shows that 48 percent of the nearly 7,000 ZIP codes in the eight states analyzed are child care deserts. In some states, a substantial majority of the population lives in child care deserts, with nearly two-thirds of Minnesota ZIP codes and 60 percent of Illinois ZIP codes fitting the definition. Across the eight states, more than 27 million people live in child care deserts, including 1.8 million children under the age of 5. Nearly half of all the young children living in child care deserts are located in just two states: Illinois and Minnesota.
The existence of child care deserts varies across urban, suburban, and rural ZIP codes: 54 percent of rural ZIP codes are child care deserts, and about two-thirds of rural child care deserts have no child care centers at all. Only 36 percent of suburban zip codes are child care deserts, but since these zip codes are more densely populated than rural ZIP codes, this means that nearly 1 million suburban children live in child care deserts. That trend is exacerbated in urban ZIP codes, which has the smallest percentage of deserts but which are the most densely populated as they are home to nearly 5 million residents, including about 375,000 children under the age of 5.
Further, child care desert communities tend to have higher proportions of Hispanic residents and lower proportions of African American residents. The percentages of child care desert zip codes in the eight states analyzed are as follows:
- Colorado: 38 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
- Georgia: 32 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
- Illinois: 60 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
- Maryland: 33 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
- Minnesota: 65 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
- North Carolina: 36 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
- Ohio: 46 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
- Virginia: 49 percent of zip codes are child care deserts.
Click here to view the interactive child care desert maps for Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.
Read the related analysis, “Child Care Deserts: An Analysis of Child Care Centers by ZIP Code in 8 States” by Rasheed Malik, Katie Hamm, Maryam Adamu, and Taryn Morrissey.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.478.6331.