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How safe are early childhood education programs?: New evidence from the universe of all licensed centers in North Carolina

The reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in 2014 emphasized the need to ensure better safety across the diverse landscape of early childhood education (ECE) programs. Media accounts highlight incidents where young children are injured or die in ECE settings. But aside from these egregious incidents, we know little about the extent to which ECE programs meet states’ safety guidelines. To fill this gap, the present study applied data scraping techniques to compile a novel dataset that tracks all violations observed from the full universe of licensed, center-based ECE programs in North Carolina (N = 4,314). We used these data to examine the statewide frequency, regulatory category, and severity of safety violations observed during routine, unannounced licensing inspections of programs. We find that most programs had at least one violation when inspected, and a third of the programs had one or more severe violations observed. We also find that relative to publicly-operated programs such as Head Start or state pre-kindergarten, private programs were about 10 percentage points more likely to have safety violations, even when comparing programs within the same communities. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States
North Carolina

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