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Hispanic Family Facts: Key features shaping Hispanic families’ access to early care and education

Researchers at the Center have been examining multiple features of early care and education (ECE), identifying two broad dimensions that shape ECE access for Hispanic families in low-income households:

  1. Family and household behaviors and characteristics, including parental needs and preferences, and search and decision-making; and
  2. Characteristics of ECE providers, such as flexibility and availability of care schedules, workforce diversity, and predictors of quality.

Our research suggests that gaps in ECE use between Hispanic and non-Hispanic children appear to be closing, particularly among preschoolers. On the household side, we see more similarities than differences in parental preferences and types of ECE settings used by families across racial/ethnic groups. For instance, compared with low-income white and black parents, Hispanics have similar perceptions of center-based care; search for ECE for similar reasons; and are no more likely to prefer relative care or to have relatives nearby to provide care.

On the supply side, we find that ECE centers serving a large share of Hispanic children (at least 25 percent) fare well on predictors of quality and workforce diversity, training, and experience. Still, there are signs of unmet need in Hispanic communities. Most Hispanic children with working parents have at least one parent who works nonstandard hours. Yet, many providers serving a large share of Hispanic children do not offer full-time hours or care during weekend or evening hours.

Better understanding the factors that shape ECE access for Latino families can help identify where policies and public investment may be most needed.