Alternate TitleNSECE, 2012
The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) is a set of four integrated, nationally representative surveys conducted in 2012. These were surveys of (1) households with children under 13, (2) home-based providers (3) center-based providers, and (4) the center-based provider workforce.
The National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) documents the nation's current utilization and availability of early care and education (including school-age care), in order to deepen the understanding of the extent to which families' needs and preferences coordinate well with providers' offerings and constraints. The experiences of low-income families are of special interest as they are the focus of a significant component of early care and education/school-age (ECE/SA) public policy. The NSECE calls for nationally-representative samples including interviews in all fifty states and Washington, DC.
The study is funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), United States Department of Health and Human Services. The project team is led by NORC at the University of Chicago, in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Child Trends.
Additional information about this study can be found on the NSECE Web site.
The Quick Tabulation and Public-Use Files are currently available via this site. Restricted-Use Files are also available at three different access levels; to determine which level of file access will best meet your needs, please see the NSECE Data Files Overview for more information.
Restricted-Use Files are available via Research Connections. To obtain the Level 1 files, researchers must agree to the terms and conditions of the Restricted Data Use Agreement and complete an application via ICPSR's online Restricted Data Contracting System.
Level 2 and 3 Restricted-Use Files are available via the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). For more information, please see the access instructions for NSECE Levels 2/3 Restricted-Use Data.
FundingUnited States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (HHHSP23320095647WC)
Subject Termschild care education educational needs educational policy low income groups school age children
Geographic CoverageUnited States
Smallest Geographic UnitCountry
This data collection may not be used for any purpose other than statistical reporting and analysis. Use of these data to learn the identity of any person or establishment is prohibited.
Public Use Files: The NSECE Quick Tabulation files (Datasets 1-6), Public Use data files (Datasets 7-11), and documentation are public use and available for download. Documentation includes the User Guide and Codebooks.
Restricted Use Files: To protect respondent privacy, the NSECE Restricted Use data files (Datasets 12-15) are restricted from general dissemination. Users interested in obtaining these data must agree to the terms and conditions of the Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request of each specific dataset, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. For more information about the application requirements, please refer to this online document. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR Restricted Data Contracting System, which can be accessed via the "apply online for access to the data" link above.
Distributor(s)Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
Time Period(s)2010 -- 2014
Date of Collection2011-09 -- 2012-06 (Interviews were concentrated between January and May to reduce data quality problems)
The primary purpose of the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) was to provide a comprehensive snapshot of both the availability and utilization of early care and education in the United States. The main objectives of the study included:
- Providing the first national portrait of the availability of early care and education for the full spectrum of care providers, including households and providers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Identifying early care and education and school-age care (ECE/SA) needs and preferences among households in the United States with children under age 13 as they pertain to supporting both the employment of parents and the development of children.
- Capturing data on all forms of non-parental care for all children in a household.
- Providing the perspectives of both families and providers on the services offered in a system where children are often in multiple arrangements and providers receive funding from multiple sources.
- Linking the data set collected with policy-relevant data.
- Increasing the understanding of the care received by low-income children and how that varies across communities.
The NSECE is a coordinated set of four nationally representative surveys pertaining to the supply of and demand for early care and education in the United States, including the individuals working directly with children. There are two primary sources of sample for these four surveys, a household sample and a provider sample. A household sample was constructed using an address-based sample of housing units. In order to draw a nationally representative sample of the supply of early care and education, the project constructed a list of providers from several administrative lists.
Using a household screener, eligible households were identified for the household questionnaire and for the home-based provider questionnaire from the household sample. Three different surveys used the provider sample. Center-based providers of early care and education to children not yet in kindergarten were selected through a center-based screener for the center-based provider questionnaire. From the center-based providers who completed a center-based provider interview, respondents were selected for the workforce questionnaire. Also from the administrative lists, home-based providers were selected for the home-based provider survey. Note that the home-based provider survey includes both samples: the household (for unlisted providers) and the administrative lists (for listed providers).
The NSECE sample design is a multistage probability design. In the first stage, 219 primary sampling units (PSUs) were selected across all 50 states and DC. PSUs were allocated to states by size based on the population of children under age 18 within each state. In the second stage, secondary sampling units (SSUs) were selected for the household sample. Because the experiences of low-income families are of special interest in public policy addressing early care and education/school-age (ECE/SA), the NSECE sample design included a low-income oversample. SSUs were selected disproportionately from areas in which at least 40 percent of households had income below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Altogether, 755 SSUs were selected, with 537 SSUs in these lower-income areas and 218 in areas with lower densities of low-income households. OPRE made available to the states the opportunity to supplement their NSECE samples for the purpose of increasing state-specific sample sizes and analytic power. The states of New York and Illinois both exercised this option to supplement. The 219 PSUs and 755 SSUs in the final sample reflect an expansion of the number of PSUs by two and the number of SSUs by 14 relative to what would have been allocated in the absence of supplementation.
There are two primary sources of sample for this study. A household sample was constructed as a hybrid between an address-based sample of housing units selected from the Delivery Sequence File (DSF) maintained by the United States Postal Service and a freshly listed sample of housing units in a small number of locations where the DSF lacked adequate coverage to support a high-quality sample. In order to draw a nationally representative sample of the supply of early care and education, the project constructed a sampling frame of "listed" providers from administrative lists. This frame was built through compiling and geo-coding all available state-level and national lists of providers of early care and education collected from various agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These lists of providers included licensing, regulation, and license-exempt lists, as well as lists of providers in specific programs such as offering Head Start or public pre-kindergarten.
UniverseHouseholds and early care and education providers in the United States.
Unit(s) of ObservationHousehold, Early care and education provider
Data Type(s)survey data
Mode of Data Collectionface-to-face interview, paper and pencil interview (PAPI), self-enumerated questionnaire, telephone interview, web-based survey
Description of Variables
- Household Survey: This survey documents the nation's demand for early care and education services. Key questionnaire topics include details on usage of non-parental care, expenditures on non-parental care, parental search behavior for early care and education, and the balance of parental employment with child care needs and availability. Data from multiple children, details of parental searches for care, and innovative approaches for determining likely participation in government programs (such as CCDF, Head Start, or public pre-K) are all innovations in the household questionnaire instrument.
- Home-Based Provider Survey: Key questionnaire topics in the home-based provider questionnaire include enrollment and the characteristics of the children served, rates charged for care, participation in government programs, household composition, qualifications for and attitudes toward early childhood education, use of curricula and activities conducted with children (varied to be appropriate for younger children and school-age children).
- Center-Based Provider Survey: Topics covered by this instrument include enrollment and characteristics of children served, staffing, prices charged, schedules of service, participation in government programs, and staff compensation and professional development policies. The questionnaire also includes the selection of a representative classroom about which more detailed staffing, compensation, and curriculum information are collected. Although no observational data are collected on the care provided, the questionnaire includes a variety of measures at both the program and individual staff levels that have been found in the literature to predict observed quality of care.
- Workforce Survey: Topics include information about the work setting (activities in the classroom, interactions with parents and other staff, availability of professional development and other supports), roles and responsibilities (lead teacher, teacher, assistant teacher, aide), compensation (wages and benefits), and perceived leadership and morale, as well as personal information about qualifications, attitudes toward ECE, and stress, depression, and demographic information.
- Household Survey: A total of 65,712 screening interviews were completed, for a weighted screener completion rate of 91.1 percent. From these, 11,629 eligible households completed a Household interview, yielding a weighted interview completion rate of 67.1 percent. The overall weighted response rate is 62.2 percent.
- Home-Based Provider Survey: The NSECE data include a combined total of 5,986 for Listed and Unlisted Home-Based provider interviews. For Listed Home-Based providers, eligibility was confirmed for a total of 5,752 home-based providers, for a weighted screener completion rate of 86.51 percent. From these, 3,934 eligible Listed Home-Based providers completed a Home-Based provider interview, yielding a weighted interview completion rate of 93.3 percent. The overall weighted response rate is 80.7 percent. For Unlisted Home-Based providers, a total of 65,712 screening interviews were completed, for a weighted screener completion rate of 91.1 percent. From these, 2,052 eligible Unlisted Home-Based providers completed an Unlisted Home-Based provider interview, yielding a weighted interview completion rate of 66.4 percent. The overall weighted response rate for unlisted providers is 67.5 percent.
- Center-Based Provider Survey: A total of 15,805 screening interviews were completed, for a weighted screener completion rate of 94.3 percent. From these, 8,265 eligible Center-Based Providers completed a Center-Based interview, yielding a weighted interview completion rate of 78.2 percent. The overall weighted response rate is 73.7 percent.
- Workforce Survey: Altogether, 5,556 interviews were completed with workforce respondents. A total of 7,230 center-based provider questionnaires were completed with adequate data to sample a workforce respondent, for a weighted screener completion rate of 88.1 percent. From these, 5,556 eligible workforce employees completed a Workforce interview, yielding a weighted interview completion rate of 80.7 percent. The overall weighted response rate is 71.2 percent.
Original Release Date2014-11-11
2016-06-15 Adding public-use documentation to Restricted-Use Data parts.
2016-12-01 Updated codebooks for the Household Calendar Public-Use File and Household Restricted-Use File were released.
2014-11-18 Released the Center-based Provider Quick Tabulation File.2015-06-12
Released data files for all five Public-Use Files. Also, updated documentation with additional information for all five Public-Use Files has been released.
In addition, a correction was made to the footnote in the documentation for the Center-based Provider Quick Tabulation file and Workforce Quick Tabulation File. An updated data file for the Center-based Provider Quick Tabulation file including previously missing value labels has also been released.
2016-06-15 Releasing the Level 1 Restricted-Use Files.
2014-11-11 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:
- Performed consistency checks.
- Created online analysis version with question text.
- Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
2015-04-06 Released documentation for all five Public-Use Files.
2017-09-01 The household public-use file has been updated to include variables previously made restricted. The variable HH_ECON_INCOME_MONTHLY has been corrected in the Household Quick Tabulation file, as well as the variable HH_G3_INCOME_MONTHLY in the Household Restricted-Use Data file. New user guides were provided for the Household Quick Tabulation File, in addition to public and restricted Home-based and Household files.
2015-03-12 Changed year in the study title.
2016-11-01 Updates have been made to the study's documentation for all public-use files.
2015-03-11 Released the Household Quick Tabulation File and the Household Child-level Quick Tabulation File.
2015-02-20 Released the Home-based Unlisted Provider Quick Tabulation File and the Home-based Listed Provider Quick Tabulation File.
2016-11-21 The household public-use file has been updated to include variables previously made restricted. A new user guide was also provided.
2016-01-04 The Center-based Provider Public-Use File was updated to include the classroom weight and missing value labels for CB_F4_STAFFNAME_R_1. The documentation for the file has also been updated to reflect these additions.
2017-06-15 Updated codebooks for the Center-based and Workforce Files were released.
2017-09-27 Updated Household Calendar Public-Use Codebook released.
WeightPlease refer to the accompanying Codebooks for weighting information and usage for all datasets.
The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.
This study is provided by Child Care & Early Education Research Connections.