This report provides a descriptive comparison of the early care and education (ECE) landscape across rural, moderate-density urban (suburban), and high-density urban areas. The goal of this comparison was to understand whether ECE availability and characteristics in rural areas differ from those in more densely populated communities. We used nationally representative data on both households with young children and ECE providers to describe availability of care, use of and need for child care, and setting and workforce characteristics in rural, moderate-density urban, and high-density urban areas. Key findings from this report relate to the following:
These findings suggest both a limited supply of center-based infant and toddler care and limited demand for this care in rural communities. However, these findings cannot determine whether the supply drives demand or demand reflects supply. In addition, findings suggest a limited number of providers offering nonstandard hours of care. In terms of workforce characteristics, findings suggest that listed home-based teachers and caregivers in rural areas may benefit from additional professional supports such as involvement in quality initiatives and professional organizations. Although current findings are representative of ECE in communities of various population densities at a national level, the findings should be supplemented with research using regional or state data to better understand the supply and demand of rural ECE at a more local level.
This brief is part of the Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) project. CCEEPRA supports policy and program planning and decision-making with rigorous, research-based information.
a Ancillary services include health, developmental assessments, therapy (e.g., speech), counseling, or social services.
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