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Early Care and Education Access and Choices


The Early Care and Education (ECE) Access and Choices Workgroup is a learning community created to support discussions of emerging research and policy initiatives related to increasing access to high-quality child care and supporting families' experiences finding and using child care.

The ECE Access and Choices workgroup meets regularly to discuss new research findings and strengthen research-policy-practice connections by including researchers, state administrators, federal staff, and technical assistance providers.

The workgroup is funded through the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and managed through a contract with Child Trends.

Key Topics for ECE Access and Choices

  • Developing clear terminology and common definitions to support research on ECE access and child care subsidies

  • Identifying methodologies for defining and measuring access to high-quality ECE programs

  • Identifying critical knowledge gaps in our understanding of ECE access, families' use of subsidies, and state experiences with Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization

  • Understanding the perspectives of policymakers and administrators to make sure ongoing research is grounded in current needs

Products and Relevant Research

Defining and Measuring Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education (ECE): A Guidebook for Policymakers and Researchers
OPRE Research Brief 2017-08
Sarah Friese, Van-Kim Lin, Nicole Forry, Kathryn Tout

Understanding and Measuring Program Engagement in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
OPRE Research Brief 2018-84
Kathryn Tout, Sarah Friese, Rebecca Starr, Ashley Hirilall

Market Rate Surveys and Alternative Methods of Data Collection and Analysis to Inform Subsidy Payment Rates
OPRE Report 2017-115
Elizabeth Davis, Lynn Karoly, Bobbie Weber, Pia Caronongan, Kathryn Tout, Patti Banghart, Sara Shaw, Anne Partika

Supporting Continuity Through Child Care and Development Fund Subsidies: A Review of Select State Policies
Issue Brief OPRE 2014-32
Nicole Forry, Paula Daneri, Sarah Minton, Christin Durham

Child Care Subsidy Literature Review
Issue Brief OPRE 2013-60
Nicole Forry, Paula Daneri, Grace Howarth

Child Care Decision-Making Literature Review
Issue Brief OPRE 2013-45
Nicole Forry, Kathryn Tout, Laura Rothenberg, Heather Sandstrom, Colleen Vesely

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say: Terminology Agnosticism in Child Care Questionnaires
Methodological Brief OPRE 2013-33
A Rupa Datta


Anna Johnson (
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology Co-Director, Child Development & Social Policy Lab (CDSP), Georgetown University and Research Fellow, Child Trends

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