In recent decades, policymakers have increasingly focused on the importance of high-quality child care and early education services in supporting the development of low-income children. Though high-quality early care and education (ECE) can exist in any setting—including child care centers and home-based licensed and license-exempt settings—the emphasis on high-quality ECE services often translates into a singular focus on investing public funds in formal settings, especially center-based programs. This brief highlights some key findings from our longer report that explores the implications of this trend in the context of the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
This brief focuses on families living in rural areas, one of the four priority populations examined in the full report. The center-based market is less prepared to meet these families’ needs, yet they are identified as a priority in the CCDBG. (Three other briefs highlight the relevant findings for the other priority groups: families with infants and toddlers, families with parents working nontraditional schedules, and families with children with disabilities and special needs.) This brief concludes with a summary of some state policy strategies to better address the child care needs of these families.