In recent years, federal programs and policies such as the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act and the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge have brought increased attention to improving families’ access to high-quality early care and education (ECE). In response to this increased focus, Child Trends worked with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, an office of the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to create a guidebook defining ECE access for policymakers and researchers. This resource’s definition of ECE access includes four primary dimensions: (1) requiring reasonable effort to locate and enroll a child in a care arrangement that is (2) affordable, (3) supports the child’s development, and (4) meets parents’ needs. Despite this progress in defining ECE access, researchers and policymakers know relatively little about how families and the general public view ECE access or the extent to which the public’s values match professional definitions.
This Child Trends study, funded by Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), is a first step toward filling that gap. Using publicly available Google and Yelp reviews of ECE programs in Georgia, we aimed to better understand how the public views ECE access. Additionally, we analyzed associations between star ratings provided by the public on these rating platforms and star ratings assigned by Georgia’s Quality Rated system. Georgia’s Quality Rated is a voluntary system by which ECE programs are assigned a star rating based on a portfolio they submit, and observations conducted by DECAL. Programs that choose to participate receive a variety of supports to maintain and increase quality.
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