Florida’s 2021 Child Care Survey
The results of our statewide survey on the challenges and experiences parents have encountered relating to child care in Florida.
Special Summit Presentation: Key Findings from Florida’s 2021 Child Care Survey
Learn about the key findings of this survey and discuss a way forward for Florida child care in a special panel as part of our Built to Thrive Virtual Summit on September 8, from 10 am to noon.
The Children’s Movement of Florida wanted a clear picture of the challenges families have encountered in their search for and experience with child care in Florida.
In June and July 2021, we conducted online surveys in both English and Spanish.
- We received 5,845 responses in English and 639 responses in Spanish. Due to the relatively low number of Spanish responses, our Spanish data may not be representative compared to the larger sample size of the English survey. When added together for a total, the Spanish data does not significantly change the results viewed in English. We present both results for your information but suggest you take the English results as the most representative snapshot of the state.
- We are grateful to the numerous parents who took the time to complete our survey, which averaged at about 8 minutes to complete. Given the length, we understand long-answer questions are more work-intensive for respondents, and as a result we had fewer substantive responses to qualitative questions.
- Given that the survey was only offered online, those who do not have reliable or regular access to the Internet may not be fully represented in our findings.
- We had the unique challenge of wanting to offer parents the opportunity to distinguish between up to three different children’s experiences in child care. In the end, the majority of our responses were gathered in the Child #1 section of our survey, with participation dropping drastically for Child #2 and #3. This survey design made it difficult to aggregate statewide data, particularly across English and Spanish versions of the survey. As such, much of the data shown is just from the Child #1 section.
- We did not have the resources and network to create and circulate a Creole version of the survey and as a result, the Haitian population may not be fully represented in our findings.
Key Finding #1
Over and over, parents noted they felt that high-quality child care is tied to the education-level of the staff, a safe, clean, and loving environment, and the connection between the student and the teacher. When parents see happy children, they feel that is high quality.
Respondent definitions of “high-quality child care”
Good environment and teaching quality. Care and guide children’s learning.
A safe environment where the child is motivated to learn and develop social skills. Clean and healthy place with reasonable teacher-to-child ratio. A place where I can trust.
A safe and nurturing environment that promotes learning and creativity. Structured, clean, as well as well-trained staff.
The degree of the teacher, the size of the class and the atmosphere.
Key Finding #2
*Please note we received 5,845 responses in English and 639 responses in Spanish. So our above statement about parents corresponds to the larger sample size from the English survey responses*
English-speaking parents don’t say their child care is “high-quality”
- When asked to rate the quality of their child care, respondents answered on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being “low quality” and 10 being “high quality.
- The average response in English was 6.5. In Spanish it was 8.
Florida parents want more from their child care
- When asked to rate how close to exactly what they wanted from a child care center their child’s care was, respondents answered on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being “not at all what you want” and 10 being “exactly what you want.”
- Only 12% of English respondents rated their child care as
exactly what they want for their child (10/10).
- Only 37% of Spanish respondents rated their child care as
exactly what they want for their child (10/10).
- 26% of English respondents rated their child care in the 5-6 range.
- 11% of Spanish respondents rated their child care in the 5-6 range.
Parents are having trouble finding the following when looking for child care
English respondents’ top five
- Staff with higher education and ongoing training
- Director with excellent prior experience and education
- Low teacher/child ratio
- Small group size
- Low teacher turnover
Spanish respondents’ top five
- Convenient location
- Open hours that meet my needs
- Low teacher/child ratio
- Good health and safety practices
- Positive teacher/child interaction
When asked what kind of care their child used, respondents answered the following
English respondents (4,392 answered)
- 47.63% Child #1 is in a child care center/ preschool
- 17.81% Child #1 is in a family child care home
- 11.48% I stay at home with Child #1
- 6.42% My spouse stays at home with Child #1
- 3.92% Child #1 stays home with older children
- 8.31% Child #1 is cared for by family or friends
- 2.87% I need child care for Child #1, but can’t find anything right now
- 1.57% Other
Spanish respondents (137 answered)
- 54.01% Child #1 is in a child care center/ preschool
- 3.65% Child #1 is in a family child care home
- 18.98% I stay at home with Child #1
- 2.19% My spouse stays at home with Child #1
- 2.92% Child #1 stays home with older children
- 5.84% Child #1 is cared for by family or friends
- 8.76% I need child care for Child #1, but can’t find anything right now
- 3.65% Other (please specify)
Key Finding #3
- 43% of English respondents and 67% of Spanish respondents either cannot afford child care or take on a significant financial burden to send their child to care.
Parents have a lot holding them back from accessing quality
- 60% of Spanish respondents and 33% of English respondents say that the expense of child care is holding them back from putting their child in higher quality care.
- 43% of English respondents and 26% of Spanish respondents say that child care being too far from their job/house is holding them back from putting their child in higher quality care.
What are the top reasons you do not move your child to a higher quality center? Across English and Spanish respondents, the top 4 answers are consistent, except #1 and #2 were reversed. So for Spanish respondents, #1 was “Costs too much” and #2 was “Too far from my home/job.”
- Too far from my home/job
- Costs too much
- No open slots
- Can’t find high-quality option
Affordability is rated as one of the highest struggles for respondents.
- 67% of Spanish respondents cite affordability as the top struggle for their child’s care.
- 27% of Spanish respondents cite affordability as the top struggle for their child’s care.
Parents who do not have affordable child care or who struggle to afford their child care report using unlicensed or unregulated child care or leaving their children with a friend or family member to work or go to school more frequently than people who do have affordable child care.
- 18% of respondents who struggle to or cannot afford child care have left their child in unlicensed care 20+ times in the last two years to work or go to school.
- Compared to only 6% of respondents who do not struggle to afford child care.
*For the purposes of this survey, we rated infant/toddler as the age range between 0-2 years old. *
- 64% of English respondents reported it was especially difficult to find care for their infants and toddlers.
- Compared to 52% of Spanish respondents.
For both English and Spanish respondents, the top two kinds of care infants/toddlers are using are child care centers/preschools and family child care homes.
The cost of the care and the distance were a headache.
Hard to find openings in good daycares. Long wait lists.
20% of Spanish respondents and 10% of English respondents with infants/toddlers have had to use unlicensed care +20 times in the last two years
English parents of infants/toddlers don’t rate their child care as high quality.
- When asked to rate the quality of their child care, respondents with infants/toddlers answered on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being “low quality” and 10 being “high quality.” Please note we had 2,913 responses in English and 137 responses in Spanish.
- Only 29% of English respondents with infants/toddlers rated their child care as high-quality (8- 10/10).
- Compared with 63% of our smaller Spanish respondent group with infants/toddlers, who rated their child care as high quality (8-10/10).
The number rises when looking at parents of children ages 3-5.
- 35% of English respondents with children ages 3-5 rate their center as high quality (8-10).
- 71% of Spanish respondents with children ages 3-5 rate their center as high quality (8-10).
- We received 5,845 English respondents from throughout Florida.
- We received 649 Spanish respondents from South and Central Florida.
- Most English respondents had children who receive school readiness financial assistance.
- The majority of Spanish respondents had children who receive school readiness financial assistance.
- The English survey was completed mostly by mothers.
- Mother: 62.64%
- Father: 32.34%
- Grandmother: 3.45%
- Grandfather: 0.55%
- Other: 0.93%
- Most respondents of the English survey identified as White.
- Asian: 6.68%
- Black or African American: 18.25%
- Hispanic or Latino: 15.92%
- Middle Eastern: 5.46%
- Multiracial: 3.40%
- Native American or Native Alaskan: 6.93%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 1.18%
- White: 41.54%
- Other race or ethnicity: 0.64%
- Majority of the English respondents had 1 or 2 children.
- 1: 42.96%
- 2: 37.60%
- 3: 11.76%
- 4: 4.40%
- 5: 1.46%
- 6: 0.95%
- 7: 0.31%
- 8: 0.21%
- 9: 0.16%
- 10+: 0.18%
- Most of the English respondents had a household income of $35,000 to $49,999, followed closely by the income bracket $20,000 to $34,999.
- Less than $20,000: 10.82%
- $20,000 to $34,999: 25.64%
- $35,000 to $49,999: 26.18%
- $50,000 to $74,999:17.69%
- $75,000 to $99,999: 11.36%
- $100,000 to $149,999: 5.86%
- $150,000 or more: 2.46%
- Most Spanish surveys were completed by the mother.
- Mother: 91.40%
- Father: 5.65%
- Grandmother: 1.97%
- Grandfather: 0%
- Other: 0.98%
- The overwhelming majority of Spanish respondents identified as Hispanic or Latino.
- Asian: 0.35%
- Black or African American: 1.05%
- Hispanic or Latino: 83.16%
- Middle Eastern: 2.11%
- Multiracial: 1.75%
- Native American or Native Alaskan: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 0.35%
- White: 10.88%
- Other race or ethnicity: 0.35%
- Most Spanish respondents had two children.
- 1: 31.20%
- 2: 44.23%
- 3: 18.18%
- 4: 3.69%
- 5: 1.97%
- 6: 0.25%
- 7: 0.49%
- 8: 0%
- 9: 0%
- 10+: 0%
- Most Spanish respondents identified in the household income bracket below $20,000.
- Less than $20,000: 51.80%
- $20,000 to $34,999: 34.53%
- $35,000 to $49,999: 7.91%
- $50,000 to $74,999: 2.52%
- $75,000 to $99,999: 1.80%
- $100,000 to $149,999: 0.72%
- $150,000 or more: 0.72%