Child Care and Early Education Program Availability
In spring 2013, students enrolled in the Community Geography course partnered with Child Care Solutions and P.E.A.C.E., Inc., to conduct a geographic analysis of home-based child care and Head Start program availability, demographic patterns and trends in the population of children under age five, and the distribution of low income children in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties. These analyses are useful to both agencies in making informed decisions about where to focus future recruitment efforts for families and providers and in determining where school readiness programming for low income children is needed. The availability of quality early childhood programming is a national concern.
GIS was used to overlay the locations of early childcare and education programs with population data obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau to highlight areas experiencing significant declines or increases in the population of children in relation to the availability of child care and Head Start programming. The analysis showed that while both counties experienced a decline in the total population of children under age 5 from 2000 to 2010, population decreases were far from uniform, and in fact, some areas experienced significant increases in the under 5 population. The availability of child care generally correlates with population trends, however, there is less availability of child care during nights, weekends and other unconventional times. Mapping household social service recipient data provided by the Onondaga County Social Services Department showed concentrations of needy children and areas that may be underserved.
The next phase of this project will be to map families’ requests for off-hour care and providers who offer off-hour care to determine whether demand spatially correlates to supply. Other types of early childcare and education programs, such as child care centers and universal prekindergarten, will also be mapped.