Snapshots from the NSECE: How are Lower-Income Households Using Nonparental Care for Children Under Age 6?

This Snapshot uses data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) household survey to elucidate the types of nonparental care that lower-income households with at least one working parent are using, either solely or in combination, to care for children under age 6.1 This Snapshot also identifies the primary type of nonparental care that lower-income households use and the extent to which children from lower-income households access center based care. Lower-income households are defined as those with an annual income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and at least one working parent.

Key Findings

In 2012, higher-income households (at or above 200% FPL) were more likely to use nonparental care than lower-income households (below 200% FPL).

  • In lower-income households with at least one working parent, 58 percent of infants and toddlers (birth to 35 months) and 72 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds (36-71 months) were cared for using nonparental care.
  • In higher-income households with at least one working parent, 73 percent of infants and toddlers and 83 percent of 3-to-5-year-olds were cared for using nonparental care.

Among children in lower-income households using nonparental care:

  • Most children (infants and toddlers: 92%; 3- to 5-year-olds: 81%) were cared for by one or more providers within a single nonparental care type (e.g., center-based care, paid individual, unpaid individual, other organizational early care and education). However, 8 percent of infants and toddlers and 19 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds were cared for using a combination of nonparental care types.
  • The most common primary care type for infants and toddlers (39%) was unpaid individual care. The most common primary care type for 3- to 5-year-olds (46%) was center-based care.
  • Fewer infants and toddlers (19%) accessed some form of center-based care, either solely or in combination with another care type, than 3- to 5-year-olds (53%).

Footnote

1 In this Snapshot, children age birth through 5, not yet in kindergarten, are referred to as children under age 6.