Despite interest among LatinX families in center-based ECE, they are less likely to enroll their children in formal ECE programs than other ethnic groups and are more likely to live in so-called childcare deserts (e.g., Colaner 2019; Malik, Hamm, Adamu, & Morrissey, 2016). In recent years, the city of Chicago has invested in numerous efforts to increase the availability of high quality school-based and community-based ECE for its youngest children, and has had some success in closing this disparity (Lopez et al., 2017). This symposium presents findings from three research studies undertaken to inform city-level policymakers, childcare providers, and community organizations to improve the accessibility and quality of ECE programs for low-income families, and for LatinX families in particular. The first two papers come from the same qualitative study that examined how the supply of formal ECE programs in different communities might shape the ways in which LatinX families perceive childcare supply and make childcare decisions. The first paper looks at what LatinX families know about their options for ECE programs and their sources of information. The second looks at how these families make decisions about using care and the kinds of care they use. The third paper presents an analysis of administrative data of some of the factors that affect the preparation and continuing education of the ECE workforce, and reveals a relatively high level of unmet demand for continuing education among teachers in LatinX communities.
Collectively, the three studies indicate several opportunities for improving the quality and accessibility of ECE programs for LatinX families with young children and reliable source of information about their options. They also indicate a need for additional research on the specific barriers that limit the supply of high quality programs in LatinX communities and educational opportunities for the ECE workforce in those communities.
The symposium will include a discussant who will provide feedback on the three papers and will allow time for audience interaction, questions, and discussion.