Assessing access to early care and education is a key first step in any policy improvement initiative. In part because of the diverse delivery system for early childhood programs in the U.S., there is no single source of data on the availability of programs much less on the enrollment in those programs.
AIR’s Early Learning Needs Assessment Tool allows users to create custom reports by county and California legislative district, with zip code detail, regarding the supply of and demand for early care and education. Data are available by age cohort for children 0-5, with some information available on school-aged children. Information available through this tool includes, by geographic area and age cohort:
- The estimated number of children, based on births
- Number of kindergartners
- Number of children living in low-performing school neighborhoods
- Number of English learners
- Number of children estimated to be eligible for California’s Transitional Kindergarten State Preschool/Title 5 Child Development programs
- Number of children enrolled in various early care and education programs, including State Preschool, Head Start, Title 5 family child care homes, CalWorks stages 2 and 3, and licensed care in total
These data have been compiled from multiple sources (including the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, California Department of Education, California Department of Public Health, the American Community Survey PUMS data, and an AIR-administered survey of Head Start programs). Data are available for 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and now 2016, selected variables.