|Abstract:||The 2012 Chicago Area Study surveyed 229 center directors in 33 ZIP Codes on the West and North sides of Chicago. All centers and preschools that served three- and four-year-old in these ZIP Codes were eligible, except those located in the public schools. Eligible settings included preschools in churches, private schools, and community organizations as well as preschool programs and full-day care in standalone childcare centers. Fully 70% of eligible directors participated in the study. For simplicity we refer to all participants as “centers.” We prepared a set of initial research briefs to disseminate basic study findings. Each of these briefs describes a set of data collected in the survey for the sample as a whole and across five types of ZIP Codes. The five ZIP Code types allow us to provide a basic portrait of differences in center characteristics depending on the race-ethnicity and income of the community. The five types of ZIP Codes are: (1) mixed race, low income, (2) majority non-Hispanic Black, low income, (3) majority Hispanic, low income, (4) majority non-Hispanic White, middle income, and (5) majority non-Hispanic White, high income. The cutoffs between low/middle and between middle/high income are $48,500 and $70,000 respectively (about two and three times the federal poverty line for a family of four in 2011). We define a location as being a majority of one race-ethnicity if the ZIP Code is comprised of at least 50% of that racial/ethnic group (see CAS 2012 Research Brief #1 for additional details).
The Chicago Area Study collects survey data on life in the Chicago metropolitan area. Its purpose is to collect original social science data that inform policymaking and social science theory, provide hands-on methods training to students in survey research methods, and fund faculty research on pressing issues in the metro area. The overarching goal of the 2012 Chicago Area Study was to reveal how early childhood programs were coping with the “great recession” and how this economic crisis may be widening disparities in access to early childhood programs. The study also examined four central themes: (1) disparities in access to and utilization of childcare, (2) providers’ knowledge, experience, and attitudes toward state and local programs and policies, (3) providers’ knowledge of and relationships with other childcare providers and other service providers in the community, and (4) how providers perceived professional definitions of childcare quality and alternative cultural definitions of childcare quality.