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Inside the classroom door: Understanding early care and education workforce and classroom characteristics experienced by children in subsidized center-based care

The federal child care subsidy program is the nation's largest public early care and education (ECE) program for low-income children, yet little research has documented the workforce and classroom characteristics that affect children's experiences in subsidized classrooms. Moreover, no existing study has compared the workforce and classroom characteristics in subsidized classrooms to those in classrooms across the range of alternative center-based settings available to low-income children. To fill this knowledge gap, the present study uses data from the newest national survey of child care available – the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), collected in 2012 – to describe subsidized classrooms on a broad set of workforce and classroom characteristics. Classrooms serving children with child care subsidies are compared to other classrooms serving low-income children, with a distinction between those that receive other public funds (Head Start or school-based pre-k), and those that do not (non-publicly-funded centers). Consistent with prior research, which finds classrooms serving subsidized children to have lower observed global quality than Head Start or pre-k classrooms, our findings reveal that classrooms serving children receiving subsidies typically have a more disadvantaged workforce and fewer classroom characteristics indicative of higher quality and believed to promote child development. Compared to non-publicly-funded center-based classrooms, classrooms serving subsidized children scored lower on several desirable workforce characteristics such as hourly pay and receipt of coaching, but did not differ on classroom characteristics. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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