IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Changes in Children’s Nonparental Care Arrangements From 2001 to 2012

By Lauren Musu-Gillette

While the percentage of children in nonparental care arrangements remained unchanged between 2001 and 2012, the cost of those arrangements increased significantly. These findings come from a recently released report from NCES, The Years Before School: Children’s Nonparental Care Arrangements From 2001 to 2012. Childcare arrangements are influential in children’s early education, and can often be where children learn early literacy and numeracy skills that are important for kindergarten entry.[1]

While the percentage of children who participated in a nonparental care arrangement remained statistically unchanged from 2001 to 2012, there were shifts in the patterns of relative,[2] nonrelative,[3] and center-based care arrangements.[4] For instance, from 2001 to 2012, the percentage of children who had a relative care arrangement increased (from 22 percent to 26 percent) as did the percentage of children who had multiple arrangements (from 10 percent to 12 percent). In both 2001 and 2012, the greatest percentage of children participated in center-based care.

Percentage of children from birth to age 5 who are not yet in kindergarten, by type of nonparental care arrangement: 2001, 2005, and 2012

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES), Early Childhood Program Participation (ECPP) Survey, 2001, 2005, and 2012.

There were higher out-of-pocket hourly expenses for care in 2012 than in 2001 for children in all types of care arrangements. The expense for center-based care increased by 58 percent and that of relative care by 57 percent, while the expense for nonrelative care increased by 25 percent.

Percentage of children from birth to age 5 who are not yet in kindergarten, by type of weekly nonparental care arrangement and child’s age: 2001, 2005, and 2012

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES), Early Childhood Program Participation (ECPP) Survey, 2001, 2005, and 2012.

In 2012, out-of-pocket hourly expenses for children in center-based programs were the most expensive for families, averaging $6.70 per hour—60 percent higher than relative care ($4.18 per hour) and 27 percent higher than nonrelative care ($5.28 per hour).

Data used for this report come from the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) Early Childhood Program Participation Surveys (ECPP) collected every several years. This study is different from most NCES data collections in that it focuses on children before they enter formal schooling. In addition to collecting information on children’s early care and education arrangements, parents are also asked about early learning, such as how high the child can count and whether the child can recognize the letters of the alphabet. Learn more about the variables included in the study by visiting the website or accessing the First Look report.


[1] Flanagan, K.D., and McPhee, C. (2009). The Children Born in 2001 at Kindergarten Entry: First Findings From the Kindergarten Data Collections of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) (NCES 2010-005). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics.

[2] Relative care: care provided by a relative (e.g., grandparent, aunt/uncle, brother/sister, or another relative) in either the child’s home or another home. Relative care does not include the child’s parents or guardians (e.g., a father or mother caring for the child).

[3] Nonrelative care: care provided by a nonrelative, either in the child’s home or another home. It includes care provided by home child care providers or neighbors, but not day care centers or preschools.

[4] Center-based care: care provided by day care centers, preschools, prekindergarten programs, Head Start programs, and other early childhood programs.



IES Grantees Receive SRCD Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award

Two Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grantees were recently recognized by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) for their lifetime contributions to the knowledge and understanding of child development.

Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek received SRCD’s Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award in April. It is the first time a team received the award. Dr. Golinkoff (pictured, right) is the Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education at University of Delaware and Dr. Hirsh-Pasek (pictured, left) is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The duo has been collaborating on research in a variety of areas of young children’s development and education for several decades, including pioneering work in language, spatial development, and learning through play. They have also dedicated themselves to the widespread dissemination of research findings to the public.

Dr. Golinkoff and Dr. Hirsh-Pasek have received a number of grants from IES, spanning three topic areas across the two research centers.  In 2011, their research team, led by Dr. Golinkoff, received an award to systematically develop a computerized language assessment for preschool children, which has resulted in a reliable and valid product, the Quick Interactive Language Screener (QUILS).  The research team recently published the QUILS, which is now available online.  Based on the success of the assessment for preschoolers, they received a grant from the National Center for Special Education Research in 2016 to expand the QUILS program to assess 2-year-old children, creating an instrument that can be used for early screening of children at risk for language disabilities.

In another area, their research team (led by David Dickinson) received a 2011 National Center for Education Research (NCER) grant to develop and pilot test an intervention designed to foster vocabulary development in preschool children from low-income homes through shared book reading and guided play. The same team, led by Hirsh-Pasek, received a subsequent award in 2015 to extend this work to create a toolkit of shared reading combined with teacher-led playful learning experiences, such as large group games, board games, digital games, songs, and socio-dramatic play.

In addition, Golinkoff led a research team on a 2014 NCER grant to explore how modeling and feedback, gesture, and spatial language affect children’s spatial skills measured through both concrete and digital delivery. 

Written by Amy Sussman (NCSER), Caroline Ebanks (NCER), and Erin Higgins (NCER)

ED/IES SBIR Awards: Funding the Next Generation of Education Technology

Images of SBIR Phase II ProjectsFor more than a decade, the Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research program, operated out of the Institute of Education Sciences, has funded projects to develop education technology designed to support students, teachers, and administrators in general or special education. The program, known as ED/IES SBIR, also focuses on the commercialization after development is complete so that the products can reach schools and be sustained over time. It’s research, with a start-up mentality.

In recent years, millions of students in schools around the country have used technologies developed through ED/IES SBIR funding, such as products by Filament Games, Sokikom, Agile Mind, and Mindset Works, to name a few.

This week, IES announced 18 ED/IES SBIR program awards for 2017. Of these awards, 11 are Phase I awards to develop and test a prototype, and seven are Phase II awards to fully develop and evaluate an education technology product in classrooms and schools. (See a video playlist of Phase II projects below)  

The new awards cover topics across math, science, engineering, reading, support social and behavioral development, and several are building platforms to inform decision-making by teachers and administrators. Several projects are pairing software with hardware-based technologies, such as Virtual Reality, 3D-printing, and Wearables.

The new awards also continue to fund projects in two major categories – learning games and dashboards for teachers and administrators.

Learning Games

For the past seven years, about half of ED/IES SBIR awards have focused on the development and evaluation of learning games (click here for a playlist). Continuing that trend, more than half of the 2017 ED/IES SBIR awards are for game-based technologies. Examples include:

  • Phase II awardee Schell Games and Phase I awardee Electric Funstuff are building games for use with Virtual Reality headsets so that students can engage with academic content in immersive 360-degree environments;

  • Phase II awardee Parametric Studios is creating a “makerspace” engineering simulated environment with a 3D-printer;

  • Phase II awardee Fablevision is developing a fractions game with an adaptive component that auto-adjusts in difficulty to meet the competency level of individual students;

  • Phase II awardee Spry Fox is building in-game supports and using rewards and competition to drive game play in teaching vocabulary to struggling middle school students and English Learners; and

  • Phase I awardees MidSchoolMath and Happy People Games are using story-based narrative to engage students and apply learning, while Fokus Labs and Safe Toddles are creating prototypes employing wearable devices paired with a game component to improve performance.

Dashboards for Teachers and Administrators

Many of the newly funded projects are developing a dashboard component populated with data and information to generate reports that teachers and administrators can use to guide instruction and decision making. Examples include:

  • Phase II awardee Analytic Measures is developing an automated speech recognition technology to assess students’ oral fluency in real-time with a dashboard to provide reports to inform teacher instruction;

  • Phase II awardee Future Engineers is developing an open online platform that generates lists of engineering and maker-based projects for students in K-12 classrooms.

  • Phase I projects by Story World, Strange Loop Games, TutorGen, Simbulus, and Myriad Sensors are creating prototypes of dashboards to provide teachers formative assessment results on student performance with reports to guide instruction; and 

  • Two projects focus on platforms for schools administrators – a Phase II project by EdSurge to inform the selection process for technology for school improvement and a Phase I project by LiveSchool to generate reports on student behavior across classes and school.

Stay tuned for updates on Twitter and Facebook as IES continues to support innovative forms of technology.

Written by Edward Metz, program manager, ED/IES SBIR