Putting Child Care on the Map
By Jessica Horning, Research Assistant, Greater Minneapolis Day Care Association
The Greater Minneapolis Day Care Association (GMDCA) is a non-profit Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R) serving Carver, Dakota, Hennepin and Scott Counties. GMDCA assists parents with locating and paying for child care, supports child care providers with training and resources to improve child care quality, and advocates for a stronger child care system. GMDCA's Research Department started using child care maps as far back as 1994. In 1997, GMDCA worked with Resources for Child Caring (RCC) on a project, “Child Care and Welfare to Work,” that relied heavily on maps to predict child care shortages during welfare reform. Since 2004, GMDCA has integrated GIS into its daily research operations to model the child care market and analyze the impact of policy changes on families and child care businesses.
Questions about the business climate for child care are common and can be very time-consuming to answer. For instance, when a family child care provider in the West Metro applies for a business loan, the bank asks for some assurance that local demand will remain strong enough to support the business and pay off the loan. Providers frequently call GMDCA for assistance with these matters.
GMDCA developed the Child Care Business Climate Index (BCI) to answer these types of questions in a time-efficient manner and with data instead of anecdotal evidence. The BCI combines CCR&R data on child care supply and demand with community-level economic and demographic data. The result is a 15-point ranking system that assigns high BCI scores to areas with favorable market conditions and low values to areas with unfavorable conditions. The BCI uses the following measures:
- child care demand relative to supply by zip code
- average child care vacancy rate by zip code
- birth rate by city
- employment rate by city
- percent of children under 6 years with all parents in labor force by city
- average annual rate of population change by city
- average annual housing growth rate by city
Future versions of the BCI model may include the following factors suggested by audience members at a recent presentation of the BCI at the annual Minnesota CCR&R Conference:
- quality of child care (e,g., Northstar Quality Improvement and Rating System)
- school enrollment forecasts
- families eligible for Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)
- providers accepting CCAP
- family income
- preferences for different types of care
- use of Family, Friend or Neighbor (FFN) care
- child care prices
For additional methodology details, please download the BCI presentation from GMDCA’s website. Find it by going to www.gmdca.org/research and then entering “climate” in the search box.
For more information about the BCI or GMDCA’s Research Department, please contact Jessica Horning, Research Assistant, at: Jessica.Horning@gmdca.org or 612-349-0503.