School Age - About
The Office of Child Care established the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) to support greater access and improved quality of child care for school-age children and their families. To inform stakeholders and the broader field, NCASE provides relevant information on the needs of school-age children served by the federal Child Care & Development Fund (CCDF).
CCDF offers low-income working parents financial support to help offset the cost of child care. This set of national, state, and territory profiles shares information on school-age child care that is supported by CCDF. The profiles include data on the numbers of school-age children served through CCDF, the settings in which care takes place, and the average subsidy dollars paid to providers. Data related to the US Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program is also provided. The 21st CCLC program is the other major federal investment in afterschool and summer programming.
In addition, the profiles offer information on state policies and practices that can help promote greater access to school-age child care and improved quality of programs. Taken together, these data sources present a more complete picture of how federal investments and state policies can support school-age children from low-income families seeking access to quality child care.
Explanation of Data Included in Profiles
Definition of School Age
The profiles are based on an expanded definition of school age that includes 5-year-olds, rather than the commonly accepted age range of 6 through 12. The Office of Child Care’s inclusion of 5-year-olds within the “school-age” population reflects the fact that many 5-year-olds in kindergarten need access to quality afterschool and summer child care while their parents are at work. This expanded definition of school-age has implications for state administrators and other stakeholders, broadening their understanding of the full scope of the school-age population.
Child Care and Development Fund Data
The first page of the profiles describes the administrative oversight of various CCDF functions—that is, the state agencies that oversee the different aspects of CCDF administration, such as subsidy/financial assistance and outreach/consumer education. It also presents the characteristics of the school-age population served through CCDF (such as the percent of all children served through child care subsidies who are school-age, and the average number of school-age children served each month). These figures are based on the data that states and territories submit through the ACF 801 reporting form.
The profiles use FY 2015 data, which represents the most recent data approved by ACF at the time of the profiles’ publication. These data reflect the federal contributions to a state or territory’s CCDF funding pool and the funds states are required to contribute. Many states make additional contributions to the CCDF funding pool beyond what is required, but these additional contributions are not captured in the official ACF data included in these profiles.
21st Century Community Learning Centers Program
In addition to CCDF data, the profiles offer information on the 21st CCLC program in each state, in order to show the broader scope of federal investments in afterschool and summer enrichment. (Note that data are not available for territories, though territories do receive 21st CCLC funding.) This information includes the number of 21st CCLC grantees, the number of individual program sites represented by the grantees, and the number of K-12 students served. The 21st CCLC data in the profiles come from the Afterschool Alliance’s figures related to the 21st CCLC program. To align with the time frame represented by the CCDF data, the profiles use data from the 2014-2015 program year.
State and Territory Policies and Practices
The second page of each profile includes additional information on state- and territory-level policies and practices relevant to school-age child care. This information is gathered from these sources:
- Child Care Aware® of America tracks data related to Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies and other efforts to provide consumer education. It offers a set of state fact sheets on child care availability and other issues related to access and quality. The fact sheets note whether a state or territory has created a state-funded network of CCR&Rs, rather than multiple independent CCR&Rs, and this information is included in the profiles.
- The CCDF State and Territory Plans FY 2016-2018 include information on quality improvement provisions and other supports that states and territories plan to implement in their administration of the CCDF program. Using information from these plans, the profiles note whether the CCDF Lead Agency’s training and professional development requirements specifically include supporting the positive development of school-age children. The profiles also note whether the CCDF Lead Agency offers grants or contracts for child care slots, which can help increase the supply of, and families’ access to, quality child care. If a state or territory does offer grants and contracts, the profiles note whether this is done to help increase the supply and/or quality of school-age child care.
- Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS) can help increase the quality of child care by promoting rigorous quality standards and furnishing supports to help providers reach higher levels of quality. The profiles draw from information in the state plans as well as the QRIS Compendium to note whether a state or territory has a QRIS in place, and if so, whether school-age child care programs are eligible to participate in the QRIS. The profiles also note whether QRIS participation is mandatory for providers serving children whose families receive subsidies.
Statewide Afterschool Networks and National AfterSchool Association State Affiliates
In addition to information on state-level policies and practices that can help promote child care access and quality, the profiles include information on statewide afterschool networks and/or National AfterSchool Association state affiliates (where applicable). These statewide entities offer training, technical assistance, and other services to help increase the quality of afterschool and summer care and raise awareness about the importance of these programs. Representatives from these entities often work closely with CCDF Lead Agency staff, as well as 21st CCLC representatives, to help coordinate quality improvement efforts that benefit school-age children.
 Note that some states did not provide information about their CCR&R networks. In those cases, the nature of the networks is listed as “unknown.”
Important Note on Reporting Limitations
While these profiles are an attempt to deepen awareness of the scope of CCDF-funded school-age care, and state policies and practices that can promote access and quality, there remain many gaps in our understanding of the true reach of these investments and policies. For instance, because of current reporting limitations, we do not have a way of determining the actual dollar amount that each state/territory spends on school-age-specific quality improvement efforts, nor do we know how many eligible school-age programs actually participate in a state’s QRIS. Nevertheless, the profiles help to address existing knowledge gaps related to school-age child care and CCDF, and can prompt additional research into how to help CCDF-eligible families with school-age children access quality child care.
NCASE wishes to thank the following for their assistance in developing these profiles:
- National Center on Child Care Data and Reporting
- Afterschool Alliance
- The BUILD Initiative
- Child Care Aware® of America
- The 50-State Afterschool Network
- National AfterSchool Association
NCASE would also like to acknowledge the support of OCC Regional Program Managers, Program Specialists, and state and territory administrators who assisted with the review of the profile data.