Home-based Early Care and Education Providers in 2012 and 2019: Counts and Characteristics

Publication Date: June 9, 2021
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  • Published: 2021

Introduction

Research Questions

  1. What are the characteristics of home-based ECE services available to families?
  2. Who is caring for and teaching America’s children in home-based settings when children are not with their parents?

This chartbook uses new, nationally representative data—the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)—together with the 2012 NSECE, to describe home-based early care and education (ECE) providers in this country in 2019 and how they had changed from 2012 to 2019.

The chartbook uses data from the NSECE Home-based Provider Survey, one of four surveys that are part of the NSECE.  The 2012 and 2019 NSECE were 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.

Home-based providers discussed in the chartbook include both paid and unpaid providers of care. The chartbook describes the characteristics of the providers themselves and the care they provide in comparison to data in the 2012 NSECE. Each survey was conducted with individuals who regularly provide care in a home-based setting for children under age 13 who are not their own.

The 2012 and 2019 Home-based Provider Surveys included listed and unlisted providers. Listed home-based providers were sampled from state or national administrative lists of early care and education services. Unlisted home-based providers were drawn from an address-based sample of housing units screened for the presence of an adult in the household who cared for children not his or her own at least five hours per week in a home-based setting.

Purpose

The 2012 NSECE found that 13.3 million children under age 13 received care in home-based settings. The same data sets indicated that home-based providers are more likely to provide non-standard hours care and meet other needs of families. Updating counts and characteristics of home-based ECE providers using newer nationally-representative data addresses information needs about this large portion of the ECE sector.

Key Findings and Highlights

The number of individuals providing home-based early care and education (ECE) to children under age 13, not their own, declined from 2012 to 2019.  The number of home-based providers appearing on state administrative lists — listed providers — declined 25 percent from 121,000 to 91,200.

Figure 2

Almost 800,000 children under age 13 received care from listed providers in 2019, a significant decline from 2012. In 2019, about 3.5 million children under 13 received care from unlisted paid providers and 8 million children under 13 received care from unlisted unpaid providers, similar to numbers in 2012.

In both 2012 and 2019, about 40 percent more unlisted vs. listed individuals provide home-based ECE that meets four characteristics often associated with family child care.  Such care is: paid, in the provider’s home, serves at least 4 children, and includes care for at least one child with no prior personal relationship to the provider.

Despite declines in provider counts, there is similarity in 2012 and 2019 in the combination of ages served and the number of children each provider serves. Listed and unlisted, unpaid home-based providers in 2019 are more likely to be over age 50 and listed providers are more likely to have provided care for at least 20 years in 2019 than in 2012.

Methods

This chartbook draws from data collected in the 2012 and 2019 NSECE Home-based Provider Surveys. The 2019 NSECE largely replicated the design of the 2012 NSECE; both are cross-sectional surveys with no intentional overlap in sampled households or providers.

Each survey was conducted with individuals who regularly provide care in a home-based setting for children under age 13 who are not their own. The 2012 and 2019 Home-based Provider Surveys included listed and unlisted providers. Listed home-based providers were sampled from state or national administrative lists of early care and education services. Unlisted home-based providers were drawn from an address-based sample of housing units screened for the presence of an adult in the household who cared for children not his or her own at least five hours per week in a home-based setting.

For this chartbook, 2012 tabulations use approximately 1,500 unlisted home-based providers, and more than 3,800 listed providers. 2019 tabulations use data from almost 1,700 unlisted home-based providers and more than 4,200 listed providers.

Citation

A R Datta, C Milesi, S Srivastava, C Zapata-Gietl, (2021). NSECE Chartbook - Home-based Early Care and Education Providers in 2012 and 2019: Counts and Characteristics. OPRE Report No. 2021-85, Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

Listed:
individuals appeared on state or national lists of early care and education services, such as licensed, regulated, license-exempt, or registered home-based providers. States use these terms with varying definitions and attach varying levels of program and professional standards, oversight and monitoring.
Unlisted paid:
individuals did not appear on state or national lists, but were identified in households through a household screener when someone reported regularly caring for children not their own at least five hours per week in a home-based setting. Individuals in this category received payment for at least one child that they cared for.
Unlisted unpaid:
individuals did not appear on state or national lists, but were identified in households when someone reported regularly caring for children not their own at least five hours per week in a home-based setting. Individuals in this category did not receive payments for the care they provided. This category includes family and friends who may or may not live in the same household as the children they regularly look after.