Child & Youth Care Forum

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 75–86 | Cite as

Space to Learn and Grow: Assessing the Capacity of a Regional Early Care and Education System

  • Robert L. FischerEmail author
  • Lisa Nelson
  • Kristen Mikelbank
  • Claudia Coulton
Original Paper


As communities across the United States work to meet the early care and education needs of young children, more research is needed to inform decision making at many levels. One key dimension of this is having clarity about the relative availability of care in light of demographic trends and geographic dispersion. The present study demonstrates a method to examine the capacity of early care programs to serve the children in a large urban county. The study takes stock of the existing early care system by comparing where the child care slots are and where the demand is—all at the neighborhood level. The existing capacity to meet the needs of 3–5 year olds could provide slots for approximately 70% of all children, though there are spatial imbalances in the location of supply and demand. The study illustrates the effective use of administrative and Census-based data to inform policy planning for children and identifies several key implications for this type of effort.


Early care System capacity Research Market 



The authors wish to thank Billie Osborne-Fears, Executive Director of Starting Point and her staff for their input to this study. In addition, staff from Invest in Children, particularly Robert Staib and Nakiaa Robinson, provided useful critique and comment on the work. Funding for this research was provided by the Cuyahoga Board of County Commissioners through Invest in Children/Office of Early Childhood.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Fischer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lisa Nelson
    • 2
  • Kristen Mikelbank
    • 1
  • Claudia Coulton
    • 1
  1. 1.Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, Mandel School of Applied Social SciencesCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Federal Reserve Bank of ClevelandClevelandUSA

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