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Strengthening early childhood education and care in a “childcare desert”


High-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) is an important component of thriving communities. It is central to the socio-emotional and intellectual growth of young children, to the ability of parents to go to work, and to the ability of employers to find and retain workers. Despite this centrality, there is a profound shortage of ECEC in many communities, which has only been made worse by COVID-19. This study took place in rural Kentucky pre-pandemic, where approximately half of all residents lived in “childcare deserts”—a situation facing a growing number of communities. This research demonstrates that while financial factors affect the undersupply of childcare in a single community, there are also additional, more opaque, and under-theorized factors at play. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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