Harris County child care market analysis: Several Harris County leaders and stakeholders are interested in understanding the local gaps in access to high-quality child care for low-income families to design possible solutions to this program.
- Policy question: How can we identify the most underserved local child care markets in Harris County? How prevalent are “child care deserts,” and how does the severity of need vary across Harris County?
- Methodology: TPL employed a unique approach to defining child care markets by adapting some urban economics literature methodologies. This approach extends the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) work. Specifically, we defined a child care market by an anchoring census tract and its surrounding tracts within a 3-mile radius. We then identified deserts by looking at the ratio between the total supply of available child care seats (real-time data from the state’s Child Care Availability portal) to the total demand for those seats. This approach allows us to describe early childhood markets as geographies where transactions between providers and households are most likely to occur.
- Results and impact: Our work resulted in an interactive data visualization tool that maps locations and severity of child care market deserts. As COVID-19 evolved in March and April, the Texas Policy Lab was pleased to support Houston’s emergency child care task force convened by the Houston Endowment. The task force’s goal was to determine how to provide child care for essential workers and best support child care providers in this crisis. We highlighted communities most in need of child care through a data visualization tool for Houston leaders that can be viewed here.