Early Care & Education Map

A Creative Approach to Calculating ECE Accessibility

A Creative Approach to Calculating ECE Accessibility

Shift Research Lab is committed to serving Colorado’s low-income communities by providing free data and analysis to help drive community change. The Early Care and Education Map is a tool we created to identify a community’s access to ECE facilities across metro Denver. The data collected answers a complicated question: How and why do parents choose a particular ECE? Many times these choices are based on factors we cannot account for, such as choosing an ECE that is close to work. Also, enrollment data isn’t reported to a centralized authority, like the Department of Education.

So here’s what we did. We used third party data to track cell phone GPS coordinates and identify travel patterns to ECE’s. To ensure our data was reliable, we partnered with the Denver Preschool Program, cross-referencing our findings with their enrollment data. The data checked out, but we needed to put parameters on what we found.

By looking at the radius distance families traveled to an ECE facility from their home community, we were able to narrow down the numbers.  Within this radius, the 50th percentile represented a typical commute. Families traveling within this cutoff, became our focus. We found that two main factors affected their commute to an ECE: income level and development patterns. We did some hard math, calculating the number of children 0-5 in a home community, and the proportion of ECE facilities that served them. From here we assigned a value to each community across Denver. The lower the number, the greater the need for an ECE facility.

In an effort to include the perspective of an early care and education research expert, we collaborated with Andrew Brodsky of Brodsky Research and Consulting on the accessibility methodology. The above video explains this methodology in more detail, and, if you’re interested in learning more about how we calculated ECE accessibility, contact Jennifer Newcomer.