Use of early care and education (ECE) is a reality for many families with young children. Research shows the importance of the early years for childrens development, and suggests that high-quality ECE can be particularly important for children from low-income families. In addition, the U.S. invests billions to support ECE. This paper assesses the patterns of ECE utilization by low-income families, the implications for children's development of the extent and quality of ECE participation, the evidence on the quality of ECE that low-income children receive, and the policy context that shapes ECE. It concludes by laying out key policy considerations.
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