Only about 22 percent of children in low-income families currently receive federally subsidized child care, and while preschool enrollment has increased nationwide in recent years, the lowest-income children are the least likely to participate in preschool programs. Twenty-eight percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs, and only 4 percent of 3-year-olds were similarly enrolled. Forty percent are not enrolled in any pre-K program at all. Clearly, the publicly funded services that are available are lacking, insufficient, or both.
Childcare varies dramatically across cultures. These discrepancies are attributed to the homestead and household environments. That is, the type of work performed by adult caretakers in a given community strongly influence the type of childcare used. In agricultural/ horticultural societies where work is done to provide sustenance for the community, siblings and similar-aged children are responsible for younger children. While many global communities prefer children aged 7–10 for designated caregiving responsibilities, children no younger than 12 are preferred in the Western world where paid childcare is common.