County Health Rankings Model

Child Care Centers*

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About

Number of child care centers per 1,000 population under 5 years old. The 2022 County Health Rankings used data from 2021 for this measure.

Accessible, affordable child care can increase opportunities for parents or guardians to pursue further education or participate in paid work to earn income and in some cases, gain healthcare and retirement benefits to support their families.[1,2] Research has shown that, in addition to supporting economic security for families, access to high-quality child care contributes positively to a child’s health and development, especially for children from low-income or socially marginalized households.[1] 

The presence of child care centers measures one aspect of child care availability. This measure can be interpreted alongside the measure of Child Care Cost Burden and Children in Single-parent Households. Household structure, namely the presence of multiple adults in the household, including three-generation households, has been shown to affect the relationship between childcare availability and employment because grandparents or other household members may provide childcare within the home.[3]  

The Child Care Centers measure comes from a data source that serves as a central authority for data from state agencies in all 50 states and D.C. and is continually updated. This measure captures an element of community infrastructure that supports children and families.    

Find strategies to address Child Care Centers*

Data and methods

Data Source

Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD)

Website to download data
For more detailed methodological information

Key Measure Methods

Child Care Centers is a rate

Child Care Centers measures the number of child care centers per 1,000 population under age 5. Rates help us compare health data across counties with different population sizes. 

Measure limitations

The presence of child care centers measures one aspect of child care availability. Child care must also be affordable, high-quality, reliable and have sufficient enrollment capacity to effectively support households with children. This measure does not capture the quality, affordability, reliability, or enrollment opportunities relating to the centers counted in the data set.  

The dataset only includes center-based child day care locations (including those located at schools and religious institutes) and does not include group, home, or family-based child care. 

Numerator

The numerator is the total number of child care centers in a county. The data include center-based child daycare locations (including those located at school and religious institutes) and does not include group, home, or family-based child care.

Denominator

The denominator is the total resident population under 5 years old in a county.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

The presence of child care centers measures one aspect of child care availability and may not be a strong measure of progress. Child care must also be affordable, high-quality, reliable and have sufficient enrollment capacity to effectively support households with children. This measure does not capture the quality, affordability, reliability, or enrollment opportunities relating to the centers counted in the data set.  

Finding More Data

Disaggregation means breaking data down into smaller, meaningful subgroups. Disaggregated data are often broken down by characteristics of people or where they live. Disaggregated data can reveal inequalities that are otherwise hidden. These data can be disaggregated by:

  • Subcounty Area

The Child Care Centers measure comes from the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD). The source data includes geospatial data for the locations of the child care centers as well as a categorization of centers as center-based, school-based, Head Start, or religious facility.  

The Diversity Data Kids - Child Opportunity Index includes a summary measure of early childhood education alongside other components of place-based opportunity for children. 

The County Health Rankings measure of Child Care Cost Burden provides added context for understanding child care opportunities in your community.

References

[1] Magnuson, Katherine, and Jane Waldfogel. “Delivering High-Quality Early Childhood Education and Care to Low-Income Children: How Well Is the US Doing?” In An Equal Start?: Providing Quality Early Education and Care for Disadvantaged Children, edited by Jane Waldfogel, Ludovica Gambaro, and Kitty Stewart, 1st ed., 193–218. Bristol University Press, 2014. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt9qgznh.14
[2] Lyonette, Clare, Gayle Kaufman, and Rosemary Crompton. “‘We Both Need to Work’: Maternal Employment, Childcare and Health Care in Britain and the USA.” Work, Employment and Society 25, no. 1 (March 1, 2011): 34–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017010389243
[3] Asai, Yukiko, Ryo Kambayashi, and Shintaro Yamaguchi. “Childcare Availability, Household Structure, and Maternal Employment.” Journal of the Japanese and International Economies 38 (December 1, 2015): 172–92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jjie.2015.05.009

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