Trends in the Use of Early Care and Education, 1995-2011: Descriptive Analysis of Child Care Arrangements from National Survey Data. Maternal Employment

03/31/2014

We observe in both the NHES and CPS data that children with employed mothers were much more likely than those of non-employed mothers to be in any ECE arrangement, and children with employed mothers were more likely to be in center-based care or preschool.  In 2005, nearly four in five children under age five with an employed mother were in an ECE arrangement compared to only one in three children with mothers who were not employed (NHES Tables 2.8 and 3.8).  Approximately 42 percent of children under five with employed mothers were in center care that year compared to only 23 percent of children with mothers who were not employed (NHES Tables 2.8 and 3.8).

As previous suggested and shown in Figure 8, regardless of maternal employment status, preschool-aged children were more likely to be in center-based care than younger children, and children of all ages increased enrollment in center-based care between 1995 and 2005.  However, the largest increase in center-based care occurred among infants and toddlers (under age three) with employed mothers.  This group increased enrollment in center care from 17 percent in 1995 to 28 percent in 2005 (Figure 8, NHES Table 2.1).  Thus, the gap in center care use for infants and toddlers with employed and non-employed mothers increased from 11-percentage points in 1995 to 19 percentage points in 2005.

Comparing the two surveys, both the NHES and CPS data indicate that children with employed mothers were consistently more likely to be enrolled in preschool or center care than children of non-employed mothers.  According to the CPS, children with employed and non-employed mothers both increased their enrollment in preschool by four-to-five-percentage points and the gap between these groups remained steady at approximately 10-percentage points from 1995 to 2011 (Figure 9; CPS Table 1.2).  This sustained gap in center care use between employed and non-employed mothers is slightly higher in the NHES data, but also remains steady at 14 percentage points across this time period (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Center Care Participation Rates by Age, Maternal Employment Status, and Year

Figure 9. Children Ages 3 and 4, Preschool Participation Rates, by Maternal Employment Status

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