Research Reports

Explore 20+ Child Care and Early Learning Research Reports Published by our Team

2023 Report on Child Care in Cook County Cover Illinois Action for Children

2023 Report on Child Care in Cook County

Our annual report examines the state of child care for the year ending June 2022. In particular, we look at the effect of the pandemic on child care slots within Cook County regions, the affordability of care, and trends related to some of the hardest-to-find care – including infant care and care during non-traditional hours.

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Expanding Illinois Child Care Assistance to Job and School Search: Experiences of Cook County Parents (2023)

Unemployed parents/guardians of young children in Illinois face a dilemma: they can’t look for a job without child care, but can’t afford child care without a job. Fortunately, in 2021, a temporary policy was put in place to assist parents/guardians with the cost of care while they look for work or enroll in school. The report assesses the impact of this policy on parents/guardians who received assistance.

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Expanding Illinois Child Care Assistance to Job and School Search: Experiences of Cook County Parents (2023)

Elevating Parent Voices: An Evaluation of the Family Advisory Committee of the Illinois Early Learning Council in Year Two (2023)

The Family Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Early Learning Council is Illinois’ first permanent advisory body of parents focusing on early childhood programming and policy. In 2022, we interviewed parent-members of the FAC and stakeholders who helped found the group in order to evaluate the successes and challenges of the group’s first two years and recommend actions for improving its role.

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Parents and Child Care Provider Experiences during Covid-19

Throughout the pandemic, Illinois Action for Children and our partners have interviewed or surveyed hundreds of parents and child care providers in Cook County and the rest of Illinois.
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Cook County Parents, Non-Standard Work and Child Care 2022 Update

Our analysis finds that 40 percent of Cook County parents who use Illinois Child Care Assistance work at least some non-standard hours (outside of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Read to learn more about these families and the child care they use.

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Cook County Parents, non-standard work and child care 2022 Update

Child Care Equity Study – Impact of Subsidy Policy Changes

Recent policy changes in the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) are intended to improve the quality and stability of care for families. We use an equity lens to explore the impacts of two policies: expanding parent eligibility from 6 to 12 months and new training requirements for license-exempt home providers. This research was a partnership between the University of Chicago and Illinois Action for Children funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Searching for Child Care: Stories of Cook County Mothers

This special edition of our annual Report on Child Care in Cook County brings parent voices to the front of the story. It captures the experiences of families who have some of the hardest-to meet child care needs as they search for care in today’s child care market. It follows mothers through their search, describing their hopes, challenges and compromises made related to their children’s care.

A Lead Free Future Report

This special report, co-authored by Illinois Action for Children and Elevate, summarizes learnings from the past four years of work supporting the child care community in complying with lead in water testing and mitigation requirements in Illinois. Findings will help inform local and national efforts to address lead in drinking water.

Has Access to Quality Child Care improved for low-income working families in Illinois?

Over the period 2011 to 2016, Illinois made substantial new investment in its early care and education system. This research series examines whether the availability of quality child care for low income working families – in particular, those eligible to receive the child care subsidy – increased during this period in two Illinois regions, Cook County and a 7-county region in Southwestern Illinois. This three-part series looks at whether access to quality child care improved for children under age 6, for infants and during non-traditional care hours.

Technical Report: Estimating the cost of a High-Quality Universal Preschool System for Chicago

Estimating the cost of a universal prekindergarten system depends on projected enrollment, estimated revenue from existing funding streams, and projected costs of high-quality classrooms at CPS and CBOs. Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) completed a comprehensive financial analysis to estimate the cost of universal four-year-old prekindergarten that ensures funding and availability of programs for three-year-old children and specifically the additional revenue needed to support the full system.

State-Funded Preschool Availability in Illinois Depends Upon Where You Live: An Equity Analysis of ISBE Pre-K Resources

We have more evidence than ever before that educating and caring for our youngest children lays the foundation for their future life success—but too many roadblocks stand in the way of families being able to access quality early learning programs from birth through pre-k that are both convenient and affordable.

Chicago’s Roadmap for Implementing Universal Pre-K: A Plan for Investment in Chicago’s Early Learning System

Chicago’s Roadmap for Implementing Universal Pre-K is a four-year plan for providing a robust early childhood system that includes universal access to free, full-day pre-kindergarten for all Chicago four-year-olds, regardless of income, by the fall of 2021, while sustaining the City’s investment in birth-through-three-year-old services. The City anticipates opening approximately 500 additional pre-k classrooms on a community by community basis over the next three years to serve an additional 7,000 four-year-old Chicagoans.

New Research on Subsidized Family, Friend and Neighbor Providers: Implications for Investing in Quality

Thousands of children in Cook County receive Child Care Assistance and receive child care from a family member, friend or neighbor. New rules require many of these providers to complete health and safety training and meet monitoring requirements. This report explores characteristics of subsidized family, friend and neighbor care in Cook County and the implications for designing a successful training and monitoring program.

Cost of Quality Early Learning Think Tank

Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) and The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) partnered to design and conduct the Cost of Quality Think Tank. Held May 16-17, 2018, in Chicago, the convening provided an opportunity for state and local leaders, advocates, and national experts engaged in cost studies of early learning programs to take stock of what they are learning about collecting, analyzing, and using cost data to inform and drive policy decisions about financing high-quality early learning programs. Highlights from the meeting, a summary of key findings, unanswered questions, and suggestions for next steps are provided in the document below.

Cook County Parents, Nonstandard Work and Child Care Research Brief

New research on the Child Care Assistance Program finds that almost half of Cook County parents with Assistance work nontraditional hours (evenings, nights and/or weekends). Few of these parents, moreover, use licensed child care.

The Economic Impact of the Early Care and Education Industry in Illinois Research Brief

How the early care and education industry contributes to the Illinois economy.

Choices in the Real World: The use of family, friend and neighbor child care by single Chicago mothers working nontraditional schedules (2013)

Fifty single mothers tell us how they provide for their young children’s care while they are working nontraditional schedules and how these choices impact their and their children’s well-being.

Illinois Action for Children’s Trainings on Nutritional and Physical Activity Standards in Child Care Settings and How Child Care Providers Perceive and Practice the New Standards (2012)

Child care providers reflect on the role they can play in helping children form good exercise and eating habits.

Getting There: Cook County Parents’ Commute to Child Care and Work (2012)

The locations of child care in relation to parents’ homes and workplaces, how these distances vary by community, and what factors may account for these variations.

Child Care and Early Education in Illinois: The Choices Parents Make (2008)

How family size, education level, income, and language relate to the choices families make, based on the Illinois sample of the 2004 National Survey of Children’s Health.

Working Later in Illinois: Work Schedules, Incomes and Access to Child Care (2006)

The relationship between nonstandard work schedules, income and child care for Illinois families based on the most recent federal data (the 2004 Current Population Survey).

Why Have Illinois Child Care Centers Closed?
(2007; published in 2011)

The reasons for many of 610 child care center closings in Illinois between 1999 and 2003.

Annual Reports on Child Care in Cook County

A rich source of data pertaining to the demand for and supply of child care in Cook County.