Prepared for the California Department of Education and the California State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care by The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley (2013)

Many of California’s at-risk preschool-age children receiving subsidized child care services are being cared for by license-exempt providers. Many of these children could benefit from, but do not participate in, organized, high-quality preschool or school-readiness experiences. The Access to Quality Early Learning Project, supported by the California Department of Education Child Development Division explored: 1) the reasons why parents choose license-exempt child care, and their knowledge of the options that may be available to them; 2) the opportunities for and barriers to improving school readiness experiences for at-risk children who attend full-time, license-exempt child care; and 3) how license-exempt providers, and school readiness and preschool programs, might better coordinate and blend their offerings for families.

This report summarizes the findings of this exploration, and offers recommendations that can be used to inform policy strategies promoting greater participation by high-need children, now cared for exclusively in license-exempt settings, in quality educational environments that ready them for elementary school.