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Understanding ‘Post-Pandemic’ Family Child Care Providers: Why New Providers Entered the Field and Why Others Left

Strategic Priority Alignment
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Project Launch: July 2023

Findings and Recommendations anticipated May 2024

Project Goal

Gain an understanding of:

  • Why new entrants are attracted to the child care sector, and specifically being a family child care provider (FCC)

  • What challenges to entering the field still exist

  • What supports new FCCs find most helpful in attaining licensure and starting their businesses

  • What supports might be helpful as new FCCs seek to continue their work in the field

  • Why FCCs have recently left the field

  • What would have supported those who left, such that they might have stayed in the field


The final report will include a recommendation section focused on actions that may be taken up by systems change actors, including governmental agencies and philanthropy, across near-, intermediate-, and long-term.

Rationale for Action

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the early childhood education (“child care”, or “ECE”) sector nationwide faced a massive loss of skilled early educator talent. For family child care providers (FCCs), this crisis pre-dates the onset of the pandemic. Massachusetts has fared no better than the rest of the country. This attrition rate has not only raised how the lack of attention to system-building has produced a child care sector in deep need of reform, it has also highlighted the low pay, few benefits, and lack of recognition that most early educators receive. This workforce crisis has been highlighted by state elected officials, in major news media, and by the early childhood community itself. 

There has been a slight silver lining: a small number of new entrants into the field as family child care providers were licensed since 2021. These new entrants, who have decided to enter the field at one of the most difficult times in its history, may offer insight into the field’s value–what makes it worthwhile to enter the field? In addition, learning from those who have left the field in recent years can offer insights to help alleviate, address, or prevent these reasons for attrition–what, if it had been in place, would have made it worthwhile to stay in the field?

Our hope is that this project will lead to concrete actions to support FCC providers as a whole, through various means (policy, regulatory, philanthropy).


The FCC New Entrant Survey is led by Drs. Kimberly Lucas and Wendy Wagner Robeson. Dr. Lucas is a Professor of the Practice at Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban AffairsDr. Robeson is a Senior Research Scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women.


This short-term project was launched in the summer of 2023, with recommendations expected in early spring 2024. From these recommendations, we anticipate that other projects in support of FCC providers will be launched.

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