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Hispanic children are likely to make up a large portion of those who are targeted by new public initiatives in early childhood education because they are the fastest-growing segment of the child population in the United States. They are a particularly large segment of the population in California, where they account for 59 percent of the population of children under age 5 in Los Angeles County. Yet despite being such a large portion of the child population, Hispanic children in the United States, California, and Los Angeles County lag behind other children in terms of enrollment in preschools and child care centers. For new public funding initiatives to have an significant impact on Hispanic children, it is critical to determine why these children are not using child care centers at the rates observed among children of other races and ethnicities. This dissertation focuses on the role of three factors that have been acknowledged in the literature as potential causes of the lesser enrollment of Hispanic children in center care: access to care by relatives and the relationship between this access and use of relative and center child care; access to center child care and the relationship to use of center care; and the role of language as a barrier in preventing Hispanic families from accessing center care.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in December 2009 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Sandraluz Cinisomo (Chair), Rebecca Kilburn, and Francisco Martorell.

This publication is part of the RAND dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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