High-quality child care prior to kindergarten is critical to economic prosperity and children’s cognitive and social development. Access to child care affects families’ workforce participation, financial stability, and future earnings, and quality child care promotes success in school. High-quality, non-parental child care also plays a role in easing family stress and building thriving communities. The availability of high-quality, affordable child care for families who seek it is an issue of national and local importance.

Beginning during the tenure of County Executive Jan Gardner and continuing as a priority of current County Executive Jessica Fitzwater, the County’s Office for Children and Families (OCF) in the Division of Family Services has been taking strategic steps to identify the ways Frederick County government can help. Building on earlier efforts of the Interagency Early Childhood Committee of Frederick County, OCF engaged Public Policy Associates and Solomon Evaluation to conduct a systemic study of trends in the child care market and their impact on families, child care businesses, and the local economy.

Between February 2023 and February 2024, the Public Policy Associates – Solomon Evaluation research team examined a wide array of data from federal, state, and county agencies, in addition to hearing from over 1,600 participants in surveys, focus groups, interviews, and community input sessions. OCF staff, a Child Care Advisory Group, and a Community Advisory Board provided guidance, implementation assistance, and regular feedback on the research; meetings with specific stakeholder groups also informed the work.

The Frederick County Child Care Market Study final report synthesizes and explains the results of research about conditions affecting the child care market (supply and demand), the ideas and experiences underlying families’ child care decisions, and the opportunities for improving the availability and affordability of quality child care. The executive summary and final report are available below.

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