As the Number of Home-Based Child Care Providers Declines Sharply, Parents Are Leaving More Negative Online Child Care Reviews

Research BriefEarly Childhood WorkforceMar 28 2023

Home-based child care (HBCC) providers play a crucial role in providing care for almost one third of children under age 5 in the United States.[1] However, the number of HBCC providers on state administrative lists has declined by 25 percent across the country over the past decade, a period in which the number of U.S. children under age 5 declined by just 3 percent.[2] The COVID-19 pandemic may have further exacerbated the decline in HBCC providers.

For this interactive map and set of state profiles, we analyzed data on parents’ online reviews of child care providers to understand how the historic decline in HBCC providers is associated with parents’ overall experiences with the child care market (including both HBCC and center-based providers). We found that, as the number of HBCC providers declined, parents in 37 states left more negative child care reviews than positive reviews. Negative reviews included those on important topics that relate to child care quality, such as cost, convenience, warmth of staff, and academics.

This resource illustrates the decline of HBCC providers by state from 2010 to 2019, as well as trends in online reviews of all child care providers. We encourage states to utilize this tool to better understand the implications of the HBCC decline and to strategize ways to support HBCC providers. By clicking on state tiles, users can view state-specific data, including the change in the number of HBCC providers from 2010 to 2019; the population of children under age 5; the number of positive and negative child care reviews; and the number of reviews on various topics, such as quality and cost. The list of reviews by topic area shows state leaders how parents are experiencing the changing child care market.

HBCC decline
Greater than 20% decline
Less than 10% decline

The decline in HBCC providers is deeply concerning for states because it indicates a decrease in availability of affordable child care options for families. This trend further disadvantages those who have been historically underserved in the ECE system, including parents who work nontraditional hoursinfants and toddlers, and children living with disabilities. Without adequate support and resources for HBCC providers, families will continue to face challenges in accessing high-quality child care that meets their unique needs.

Our Approach

To better understand the impact of the decline in HBCC providers, we analyzed publicly available online reviews of ECE providers from Google Maps, Yelp, and In 37 states, our analysis revealed a significant reduction in parental satisfaction with ECE quality as the number of HBCC providers declined. This finding aligns with the existing body of research that emphasizes the importance of HBCC in the ECE system.

Other data for the mapping tool come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Nonemployer Statistics (NES) data series and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). We used NES data to calculate the number of HBCC providers in a state, defined as sole proprietors reporting child care income under the NAICS code 6244-10 (child day care services) who have no paid employees and are subject to federal income tax. We estimated the number of children in each state from the 2010 and 2019 one-year ACS data obtained from IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS).


[1] To generate this estimate, we divided the number of children under age 5 in HBCC in 2019 (from Datta et al., 2021) by the number of all children under age 5 in the United States in the same year (from Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau through Kids Count Data Center).

[2] We calculated the percent decrease using the number of children under age 5 in the United States in 2012 and 2019 from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

This work was supported by the OPRE Secondary Data Analysis Grant (Grant Number: 90YE0236). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the OPRE.

Suggested citation

Ekyalongo, Y. Y., Li, W., & Franchett, A. (2023). As the number of home-based child care providers declines sharply, parents are leaving more negative online child care reviews. Child Trends.