Preschool Development Grant: Child Care Deserts & Family Care Providers

Project Description

Family child care homes (FCCHs) are an important part of the early care and education system in North Carolina. While they make up only about a quarter of licensed care providers, they provide a critical service especially to families that work non-traditional hours, reside in rural communities or speak primary languages other than English. Despite this important role, the number of FCCHs has been steadily decreasing, contributing the existing shortage of affordable child care slots in our state and worsening access issues for many families that need care. In 2022, the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education (NCDCDEE) completed a needs assessment update as part of their Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5). Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP) served as a key partner in this effort. Findings from this needs assessment highlighted the troubling decline in FCCHs in North Carolina over the past few decades and spurred NCDCDEE to further explore this issue, with the aim of identifying the challenges and barriers contributing to this decline and developing recommendations to inform policymaking.

Project Goals

NCDCDEE contracted with the Hunt Institute, Afton and CCFP to

  • conduct a comprehensive literature review,
  • develop maps that illustrate child care deserts within the state,
  • collect qualitative data from key stakeholders, and
  • develop policy recommendations focused on these issues.

CCFP researchers will facilitate stakeholder roundtables, conduct interviews with key state leaders in the ECE space, and lead parent and provider advisory panels with the goal of helping to answer the key research questions including:

  1. What barriers and challenges do family child care home providers experience with opening, operating, and/or expanding their business?
  2. Where are child care deserts across the country and in North Carolina?