Family Voices on Accessing Child Care and Early Education



These authors have summarized the work of Sarah Friese, Van-Kim Lin, Nicole Forry, and Kathryn Tout

Families want and need different things when it comes to the care and education of their children. Most research on access to child care and early education (CCEE) has not accounted for what families search for, prefer, and need. In this video, four parents describe their experiences finding child care and early education. Their stories help bring the multi-dimensional access framework to life and show how important all four of the dimensions are—and how parents think about them when finding care for their children.

The Access Guidebook introduced a definition of access that is centered on families and acknowledges four dimensions that families consider when choosing CCEE: access means that parents, with reasonable effort and affordability, can enroll their child in an arrangement that supports the child’s development and meets the parents’ needs.

When families search for CCEE, they weigh several factors at the same time. The access framework helps us acknowledge the multi-dimensional factors that parents balance:

  • Reasonable effort to find care, for example the CCEE program is a reasonable distance from home or work, information about CCEE programs is easily available and accessible, and the desired CCEE program has availability;
  • Affordability of care, for example parents’ financial contribution is a reasonable portion of their household income, families who qualify can use subsidies and scholarships or access free care;
  • Care that supports the child’s development, for example the CCEE program is high-quality, offers developmental screenings and referrals, offers high-quality care to children with disabilities and families experiencing hardships, and the CCEE provider offers instruction in children’s home language; and
  • Care that meets parents’ needs, for example the CCEE program is parents’ preferred type of care setting, providers offer transportation for families who need it, the hours of operation align with parent needs/work schedule and the provider and parent can communicate in a shared language.

These individuals—Meg Bredeson, Erin Bultinck, Gabriella Guerra, Van-Kim Lin, Kelly Maxwell, Tina Plaza-Whoriskey, and Megan Treinen—have summarized the work of Sarah Friese, Van-Kim Lin, Nicole Forry, and Kathryn Tout from Child Trends on Defining and Measuring Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education: A Guidebook for Policymakers and Researchers.

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.