Federal regulations require that all states link child care subsidy rates to the amount that child care providers charge families without subsidies. To comply with this regulation, the Washington State Department of Early Leaning funds a biennial survey of child care centers and licensed family home providers. The survey provides important information on the condition of child care throughout Washington, in selected regions, and in larger counties.
For the 2008 survey, WRMA employed a combination of Web-based and telephone survey methodologies. First, all 2,121 child care centers and a random sample of 1,347 family home providers were sent a letter of introduction about the survey with a unique password to access the Web-based survey developed by WRMA. An initial round of telephone calls was then conducted with the objective to determine which sites did not have a computer or had staff who only spoke Spanish. A team of trained interviewers subsequently conducted telephone interviews of staff at these sites. A series of follow-up calls were conducted with the remaining sites to encourage completion of the survey online or over the phone. By the end of the eight-week data collection period, responses were obtained from 55% of centers and 61% of family homes.
WRMA's extensive report on the findings from this survey included the presentation of data based on the age of the children receiving care: infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarten, and school-age. These data were used to calculate estimates for the number of children receiving full-time and part-time child care, the vacancy rates for centers and family homes, the proportion of children funded through subsidies and discrepancies between subsidy and market rates, as well as the average salary and recent turnover rates for child care staff.