The purposes for conducting a community child care needs assessment are varied. These purposes include creating an accurate picture of the supply of child care, identifying unmet needs for child care, developing an estimate of available child care services for non-traditional care and special needs children, determining causes of inadequate care, gathering data on funding sources for child care programs, and determining the best use of child care funds. A primary purpose of the assessment also is to obtain locally derived data and information that can be used to guide community based decisions and policy making around the issues of child care.
An assessment of community child care needs requires preliminary thought about perceived community needs relative to child care. Planning and processing, logistics of designing, administering, and analyzing the information and data are all critical components in considering a community assessment. Efforts should be made to engage the interest and attention of various levels of the community to recognize the project as a necessary and viable process. This process is often time consuming and demanding on community resources. The process also involves a systematic approach to data collection, data analysis, and reporting of results.
In addition to surveying families, data would need to be collected on various demographic factors related to families, parents, children, and the community, such as the rate of growth for the locality. Both quantitative and qualitative data can be gathered and later analyzed using statistical procedures and content analysis.
Questions for assessing the child care needs of families in rural communities may include: where do children spend their after school hours? what problems do parents have with care arrangements? at what age do parents feel children can be left home alone? what educational information is needed by children in self-care? And how often and for what time periods do families need child care?
Other questions for respondents could be relative to identifying present source(s) of child care for preschool children, rating their satisfaction with these arrangements, and giving the total weekly cost of child care. Respondents not currently using a day care center could be asked whether they would use such a center if the cost was reasonable and the location was convenient.
It is essential to ensure confidentiality of the respondents and their answers during the data collection and reporting phase of the study. Include a cover letter that explains the purpose of the survey and assures the respondents that their answers will be kept confidential and reported in such a way that no person can be identified. The questionnaire (survey) should contain no identifying information and no name or address list should exist.
The following sample survey suggests items for consideration in the survey design.
|1. Would you use child care services if they were available to you?||Yes||No|
|2. If yes, please complete the reminder of the survey.|
|3. Are you currently using child care services?||Yes||No|
|If yes, please identify the type of services you use:|
|AGE RANGE||# of Children||$ COST/CH|
|Infant (Birth to 11 months)||___________||___________|
|Toddler (11 to 36 months)||___________||___________|
|Preschool (3 to 5 years)||___________||___________|
|After School Care (K-6th grade)||___________||___________|
|After School Care (7-9th grade)||___________||___________|
|4. Please mark the type of child care needed:|
|Half Days (5 days a week)||___________|
|Partial Week (2 or 3 times/wk)||___________|
|Half Days-Partial wk (2 or 3 times/wk)||___________|
|After School Care||___________|
|Night Care or Evening Care||___________|
|Sick Child Care||___________|
|5. Please mark the location/type of care you are currently utilizing:|
|# of Children||___________||___________|
|Age(s) of Children||___________||___________|
|Day Care Center||___________||___________|
|Family Care Center||___________||___________|
|Provider in my own Home||___________||___________|
|Care by family members||___________||___________|
|After School Care||___________||___________|
|Care by older sibling||___________||___________|
|6.Are you satisfied with your current child care arrangements?||Yes||No|
|If no, please explain:|
|7. If you do not utilize child care services, what prevents you from using services?|
|Hours of Operation||___________|
|Happy with current provider||___________|
|Other: (please explain).||___________|
|8.To help assess funding needs, please indicate your household gross salary range.|
|# of people in house:||___________|
|9. Is your household headed by a two-parent household or a single parent household?|
|Please check:||Single parent ___________||Two parent ___________|
|10.How MANY children do you have in each of the following age groups?|
|a.0-4 years old||___________|
|b.5-8 years old||___________|
|c.9-12 years old||___________|
|d.13-15 years old||___________|
|11. Please check one in each column for the type of care you USE and the type of care you PREFER.|
|Type of Care I|
Use Most of the
|Type of Care I|
|a. care by parent in own home||___________||___________|
|b. care in relative's home||___________||___________|
|c. care in own home with relative||___________||___________|
|d. care in your home with non-relative||___________||___________|
|e. care in non-relative's home||___________||___________|
|f. child care for self||___________||___________|
|g. child care center||___________||___________|
|h. combination of care as needed||___________||___________|
|i. currently searching for care||___________||___________|
|j. School-based program||___________||___________|
|12. Please check the days you need child care. Check all that apply.|
|b. Snow days, holidays, summer breaks||___________|
|13. Please check the times you need school-age childcare. Check all that apply.|
|a.Before school only||___________|
|b. After school only||___________|
|c. Before and after school||___________|
|14. Please check the amount you consider reasonable to pay for child care PER MONTH/WEEK/PER CHILD during the regular school year. Check only one.|
|a. No pay required||___________|
|b. $ 1-24||___________|
|c. $ 25-40||___________|
|d. $ 41-60||___________|
|e. $ 61-80||___________|
|f. $ 81-100||___________|
|g. $ 101-125||___________|
|h. Over $125||___________|
|15.Have you had any of these child care related problems during the past year? Check problem areas.|
|Yes, I have had this problem|
|a. Cost of care||___________|
|b. Finding temporary care||___________|
|c. Finding care for sick child||___________|
|d. Finding care for child with special needs||___________|
|e. Location of care||___________|
|f. Transportation to/from care||___________|
|g. Dependability of care||___________|
|h. Quality of care||___________|
|i. Scheduling child care to match work schedule||___________|
Thank you very much for your assistance!!
The decision to conduct a community assessment of child care needs should be a community decision involving collaborative efforts at various levels. The process involves a systematic approach to data collection, data analysis, and reporting that involves staff time and use of community resources.
DeBord, Karen. (1997). Comprehensive Community-Based Child Care: Is Your Community Ready? North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
DeBord, Karen. (1998). Child Care Needs Assessment 1: Child Care Needs Assessment Considerations. NNCC.
Hobbs, Beverly. (1995). Final Report Of The Oregon School-Age Child Care Needs Assessment. Oregon State University Extension. Corvallis, OR.
NNCC - National Network for Child Care. (1991). Some sample survey items reprinted with permission from NNCC.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
May 1, 2009