The Potential Need For and Use of Out-of-School Time Care for School-Age Children in 2012 and 2019

ReportEarly ChildhoodMay 13 2024

School-age children need safe, supervised places to learn and grow during non-school hours while their parents and caregivers work. Beyond providing safety and supervision, participation in high-quality school-age child care programs offered before or after school, or during the summer, is associated with positive developmental outcomes for young people.1,2

Yet, compared to child care and early education for children ages birth to 5 (and not yet in kindergarten), there has been relatively less nationally representative research on the availability and use of nonparental out-of-school time care for children ages 6 to 12. Based on the current analysis, there were approximately 27.9 million school-aged children in the United States in 2019, representing a substantial group of young people potentially in need of care.

This snapshot describes the potential need for outof-school time care for school-age children using the 2012 and 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). Given past research has found differences in out-of-school time activity participation by race and ethnic background and income level,3 the prevalence of out-of-school time care among different demographic groups is also examined.

Although the data for this snapshot are from before the COVID-19 pandemic began, which led to widespread disruptions to families’ access to child care, the findings provide useful information about differences and declining trends in use of nonparental out-of-school time care arrangements among some subgroups of children that began prior to the pandemic.

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.


1 McCombs, J.S., Anamarie A.W., & Yoo, P.Y. (2017). The value of out-of-school time programs. RAND Corporation.

2 Neild, R.C., Wilson, S.J., & McClanahan, W. (2019). Afterschool programs: A review of evidence under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Research for Action.

3 Afterschool Alliance. (2021). America After 3PM. Demand grows, opportunity shrinks. Afterschool Alliance.