The data on child care are clear – but we need more of it
A recent report from Child Care Aware of America provides a wealth of information surrounding the current state of child care in the country. From a shrinking workforce to financial barriers for families, a rapidly declining number of seats to increasingly burnt-out providers, there is no shortage of data on the complex challenges facing both child care providers and parents. While the field has identified the problems, there remains more work to do in collecting more (and more granular) data and operationalizing that data in the name of equity.
The Colorado Health Institute (CHI) laid out the case for the importance of data in a recent webinar. Their reimagining of the Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) allowed them to collect much more granular data on metrics like race and ethnicity. This will allow CHI to employ the CHAS as a “community asset,” using the data collected to determine exact needs of specific populations, which then paves the way for addressing those needs. This is the fundamental benefit of robust data collection and analysis: the ability to accurately understand the landscape of inequities in order to strategically and effectively combat them.
There is a strong economic argument to be made for collecting and using high-quality data on child care. As Elliot Regenstein points out, data and research help states understand how they can spend their funds most effectively. Indeed, more than $9 billion is currently spent nationally on pre-K. From a fiscal perspective, states should be collecting and analyzing data on the effectiveness of such a massive investment.
Recognizing the vital role of high-quality data in understanding and addressing the barriers to opportunity children and families face, the Children’s Campaign has identified data advocacy as a central component of our 2023-25 Strategic Framework. In the early childhood realm, this involves working with the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) to ensure the creation of a comprehensive data system for other early childhood programs and services that would house both deidentified and disaggregated data and be available to the public. This kind of data is not currently publicly available for early childhood and is a necessary component of evaluating our progress toward creating a statewide early childhood system that truly meets family and provider needs.
Please reach out to our Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, Melissa Mares, at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Early Childhood Policy Analyst, Lauren Corboy, at email@example.com to learn more about how to support data advocacy this legislative session.