Abstract for:Parent and Caregiver Perspectives Impeding the Adoption of Early Childhood Education in Urban Cities with Concentrated Poverty

Children in poverty who access high quality early childhood education gain significantly higher scores on academic measures as young adults, attain more years of total education, and are less likely to experience an unplanned teenage pregnancy, providing up to a 13% return on investment compared to those who did not attend (Campbell et al., 2002; Garcia, Heckman, et al., 2016). Despite the promises, many children in poverty have limited access nor do they attend even when it the costs are subsidized. This community-based, qualitative study examines the factors contributing to parent/caregiver decisions about enrolling their children, ages 0-5, in early child care centers in an urban Midwestern city through semi-structured interviews with N = 71 parents/caregivers in communities with high concentrations of poverty. Themes were coded into a system dynamics concept model for a policy working group to test potential interventions about how to sustainably increase the number of children in early childhood care. Results challenged practitioner beliefs that building more centers would solve issues, given the lack of trust and teacher quality in the system. This simulation model serves as a decision-making tool for practitioners and providers to test their assumptions and pre-existing solutions for the system.