Initial Results From the 2005 NHES Early Childhood Program Participation Survey

NCES 2006-075
May 2006


This report presents selected data on the nonparental care arrangements and educational programs of infants, toddlers, and preschool children, consisting of care by relatives, care by persons to whom they were not related, and participation in day care centers and preschool programs including Head Start or Early Head Start.1 In addition, findings concerning home learning activities are presented. This report also incorporates basic demographic information about the child, parent/guardian characteristics, home activities, and household characteristics. These data are from the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey (ECPP) of the 2005 National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES:2005). Interviews were conducted with parents of a nationally representative sample of children from birth through age 6 who were not yet enrolled in kindergarten. Data were collected from early January through April 2005. The total number of completed ECPP interviews was 7,209, representing a weighted total of 20,690,936 children. However, 6-year-old preschoolers are atypical and too few in number to support separate estimates, and therefore they have been excluded from this report. The estimates presented here are based on 7,198 interviews representing 20,665,000 children. The weighted unit response rate was 84.4 percent, and the overall unit response rate was 56.4 percent.2 Additional details about the survey, response rates, and data reliability are provided in appendix A.

For the ECPP, early childhood program participation was defined as nonparental child care arrangements in relative care, nonrelative care, and center-based programs, including Head Start or Early Head Start. In addition, the ECPP was designed to capture continuity of care, parents' perceptions of the quality of care, reasons for choosing nonparental over parental care, and literacy-related skills and activities. The ECPP in NHES:2005 was the fifth collection for this topic and provides current data on the early childhood program participation of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. This data collection also provides an opportunity to examine trends over time in early childhood program participation.

Results reported in the tables and bullets are weighted means and proportions generated by bivariate cross-tabulation procedures. All statements of comparison made in this report have been tested for statistical significance using two-tailed t-tests and are significant at the 95 percent confidence level. Additional details about statistical procedures used in this report are provided in the Statistical Tests section of appendix A.

The purpose of this E.D. TAB is to introduce new NCES data through the presentation of selected descriptive information. The E.D. TAB is purely descriptive in nature. Readers are cautioned not to draw causal inferences based solely on the bivariate results presented in this E.D. TAB. It is important to note that many of the variables examined in this report are related to one another, and complex interactions and relationships have not been explored here. The variables examined here are also just a few of the variables that can be examined in these data and were selected to demonstrate the range of information that helped shape the design and now is available from the study. The selected findings are examples of comparisons that can be made using the data and are not designed to emphasize any particular issue. Release of the E.D. TAB is intended to encourage more in-depth analysis of the data, using more sophisticated statistical methods.


1Early Head Start is a government-funded program for infants and toddlers from birth through age 2 and Head Start is a government-funded preschool program for children 3 through 5 years of age.

2The overall unit response rate is the product of the household screening stage unit response rate and the ECPP interview unit response rate. For information about nonresponse bias analyses conducted for ECPP surveys, please see Brick et al. (forthcoming).