Child Care Decision-Making

01 Apr 2014

Child care plays an important role in supporting families, from children's development to parents' employment. The complex process by which families find child care arrangements is informed by their preferences for features of care arrangements and constrained by such factors as availability, accessibility, affordability, and awareness of supply. A recent comprehensive literature review and accompanying webinar discuss research on multiple dimensions of the child care decision-making process, structured within the framework of a child care decision-making conceptual model. This Topic of Interest highlights that review, webinar, and conceptual model, as well as data sets, reports, journal articles, projects, and bibliographies from the Research Connections collection.

Access the literature review, webinar, and conceptual model:

Patterns of Child Care Arrangements

Several large-scale nationally representative data sets, such as the National Household Education Survey (NHES), Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), and Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), include questions about parents' child care arrangements. Researchers have used these questions to explore parental child care preferences and other factors associated with various patterns of child care arrangements.

Explore data sets:
See reports and papers:

Child Care Decisions Among Special Populations

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation of the U.S. Administration for Children and Families has funded a number of research projects that examine aspects of the child care decision-making process among various populations, including immigrants, refugees, English language learners, and child care subsidy-eligible families.

Explore projects:
Read project reports:

Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

There are numerous ways that states can help parents when they are making decisions about child care. One important way is through a state child care quality rating system (QRIS). A QRIS aims to improve access to high-quality child care, in part through publicly-available ratings of program and provider quality that are intended to help guide parents' child care decisions. Several state QRIS evaluations examine parents' awareness and use of QRIS ratings in their decision-making.

Read evaluation briefs and reports:

Additional Resources

Explore resources in the Research Connections collection related to the topic, including a Key Topic Resource List, as well as other recent additions.


Prepared by: Daniel Ferguson
Last updated: April 2014

Printable version

Research Connections is supported by grant #90YE0104 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the National Center for Children in Poverty and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Google Translate