Child Care Deserts

January 10, 2017

Posted By
E3 Elevate Early Education

A report recently released by The Center for American Progress, “Child Care Deserts: An Analysis of Child Care Centers by ZIP Code in 8 States,” examines the location of child care centers and reveals that 42% of children under age 5 live in child care deserts. Eight states responded to the request to share administrative date on child care centers. These eight states represent one-fifth of the U.S. population under age 5.

The Center for American Progress defines a child care desert as any ZIP code with more than 30 children under age 5 that contains either zero child care centers or so few centers that there are more than three times as many young children as there are spaces in centers.

In Virginia, 40% of families live in a child care deserts. Virginia has one of the highest child care desert populations in the study.



When compared with its neighbor North Carolina – which has a larger population – Virginia has roughly 1 million more residents living in child care deserts. While the majority of Virginia’s population is suburban, most ZIP codes in the state are rural and include the homes of more than 2 million Virginians. Similar to many other states in the study, these communities have the highest likelihood of being child care deserts. As a result, two-thirds of Virginia’s children under age 5 living in rural areas reside in a child care desert.

Read more about this study on