Mapping the Child Care Gaps Across the Country

October 26, 2017

Child Care Aware® of America is excited to announce the expansion of our child care deserts work with the release of the first two in a series of customized state-based interactive story maps, called Mapping the GapTM, that explores the gaps between child care supply and demand. CCAoA coined the term “child care desert” last fall when we released our initial report exploring states and communities exploring issues of child care supply and demand. We refer to areas or communities with limited or no access to quality child care as child care deserts.


Working families in Massachusetts do not have access to licensed child care, particularly during nontraditional hours.


Families in Alaska face tremendous gaps in child care supply – especially families with infants/toddlers.

In 2014, the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) mandated that states meet the needs of certain populations by developing and implanting strategies to increase the supply and improve the quality of child care services for children in underserved areas, infants and toddlers, children with disabilities, and children who receive care during nontraditional hours. Rather than allocating resources based on speculation, states are mandated to develop an understanding of the nuances behind child care supply and demand at the local and state levels, and to strategically implement solutions to mediate their unique child care gaps.

Daniela is just one of the many examples of a parent who struggled to find child care during nontraditional hours.

Mapping the GapTM was created to assist government efforts in identifying child care gaps in areas such as infant/toddler supply and demand and parents seeking child care during nontraditional hours through mapping as a visual aid. In addition, these maps will aid child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies, advocates, state legislators, and policymakers in raising awareness around gaps in their states and communities.

Customized State-Based Interactive Story Maps

Our state-based interactive story maps are designed to be as accurate and user-friendly as possible and to include contextual information about the child care issues with which each state is grappling. For each map, we’ve partnered with statewide leaders (typically CCR&Rs) and other key stakeholders to:

  • Identify issues and priorities to map,
  • Determine the available data that could be used, and
  • Help analyze the information and tell a story through the interactive map.

Working closely with state teams allowed us to hone in on what child care-related issues were a priority for each state. CCAoA and state teams collaborated to draft and refine each state’s story map—identifying potential supply and demand issues and areas to spotlight, and providing integral contextual information in map form. None of this work would be possible without each teams’ expertise with data, policy, and advocacy.

An Introduction to our Customized Mapping Project

Our story maps are designed to reflect potential gaps in overall supply and demand in each state, as well as particular areas of need unique to families in a given state. Our maps are also reflective of the collaboration between the CCAoA supply and demand team and key state stakeholders. The gaps in child care can be highly state specific; areas of need are apparent on maps but are confirmed by key stakeholders with key knowledge in their state. Check out our newest story maps.

We look forward to finalizing all mapping efforts with states, continuing to build on our relationships with states, and applying the lessons learned along the way to ongoing mapping efforts across the country.

Looking for additional information and resources on this exciting initiative? Watch our “Mapping Your Child Care Matters” webinar recording, which provides a preview of the latest maps from Alaska and Massachusetts. We will also be adding more story maps throughout the year, so check back often for updates!

Interested in Mapping Your State?

Child Care Aware® of America is committed to partnering with states to support their work and help them meet CCDBG requirements. These innovative data maps influence the national discussion on child care and can be used as a tool to advocate for high-quality, affordable child care. Contact us to learn more about state-based mapping opportunities.


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Topics: Policy & Advocacy, News

Dionne Dobbins, Ph.D.

Written by Dionne Dobbins, Ph.D.

Dr. Dionne Dobbins is the Sr. Director of Research at Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA). She leads a team of researchers who work closely with the policy staff to align research reports with these strategic goals, including our well known reports on the price of child care and licensing.