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Family Child Care in the United States

Authors: Taryn W. Morrissey and Patti Banghart
Publication Date: April 2007

This is an excerpt from the full brief.

Nearly one-quarter of all children are in family child care at some point before beginning elementary school. Furthermore, the majority of young children with working mothers are cared for in private homes. These children spend an average of 31 hours per week in family child care ( Johnson, 2005), which can include nights and weekends (Davis & Connelly, 2005). Family child care providers also make up a sizeable portion of small business owners in the United States. Nationally, there are a total of 213,966 licensed family child care homes, which breaks down to 166,514 small family child care homes (serving up to 6 children) and 47,452 large licensed family child care homes (serving 7-12 children) (National Association for Regulatory Administration and the National Child Care Information Center, 2006). Given the prevalence of this type of care and its potential effect on children’s development, a growing body of research has sought to better understand the characteristics of family child care and how children fare in this type of care. This understanding is essential for designing informed child care policy and support programs.

This research brief summarizes the literature review entitled Child Care in the United States written by Taryn W. Morrissey of the Department of Human Development, Cornell University, for Research Connections, and addresses the following questions:

  • What is family child care?
  • What do we know about family child care providers?
  • What do we know about who uses family child care?
  • What do we know about the quality of family child care?

This brief will also describe forthcoming studies on family child care and future areas of research in family child care.