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Child Care Research


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has a long history in child care research, with child care studies that date back to the early 1970s. These early studies laid the foundation for ACF’s current child care research agenda, which is designed to help decision makers in crafting child care policies that support positive outcomes. It is also intended to increase the capacity for child care research at the national, State, and community levels and to promote linkages among research, policy, and practice.

Beginning in FY 2000, Congress authorized ACF to spend approximately $10 million annually from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) for research, demonstration, and evaluation. ACF’s Child Care Bureau administered these research activities until 2007, when responsibility shifted to the ACF Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE). These research efforts have increased knowledge about the efficacy of child care subsidy policies and programs in supporting employment and self-sufficiency outcomes for parents, and in providing positive learning and school readiness outcomes for children.

Child Care Policy Research Consortium

The national Child Care Policy Research Consortium consists of grantees and contractors who have worked on research projects and partnerships funded by ACF. The purpose of this consortium is to help ACF increase national capacity for sound child care research, identify and respond to critical issues, and link child care research with policy and practice. The consortium meets annually to provide an opportunity for participants to highlight new research activities and findings, work collaboratively on important technical issues, consider emerging research and policy concerns, build cross-cutting partnerships and peer relationships, and produce new ideas for the next generation of research. Papers, posters, presentations, and discussion summaries from the meetings are posted on the Research Connections website (

Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

Launched in 2004, Research Connections is a web-based, interactive database of research documents and public use data sets for conducting secondary analyses on topics related to early care and education. Research Connections conducts literature reviews; develops and disseminates materials designed to improve child care policy research; provides technical assistance to researchers and policy makers; synthesizes findings into policy research briefs; and provides support to the Child Care Policy Research Consortium. Access the site at:

Child Care Research Grants and Contracts

For descriptions and information regarding recent and ongoing child care research projects, see the ACF Office of Planning Research and Evaluation’s website.

Additional findings and reports from past child care research projects are available on the Research Connections website.