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Child care providers' & families experiences with the Maryland child care scholarship program


Maryland (MD), like other states, has faced two primary challenges with its child care subsidy program (referred to as scholarships in MD): (1) serving a small proportion of families eligible for a scholarship, and (2) ensuring families have equal access to high-quality care, regardless of their income. Families in MD continue to face barriers to accessing child care scholarships, particularly Black and Spanish-speaking families. However, following the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program, the state made several policy improvements to promote equitable access to high-quality care. Subsequently, following the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland made additional policy changes resulting from the federal pandemic relief funds for CCDF, to help stabilize the child care sector. This report provides information from a mixed methods study that examined the experiences of families and child care providers participating in Maryland’s child care scholarship program following policy changes made from 2015–2019. These policies include a requirement for child care providers to participate in Maryland EXCELS, the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS); several increases in the provider reimbursement rate, ultimately increasing from the 10th to the 30th percentile of the 2019 market rate survey (MRS); and raising family income eligibility for scholarships from 32 percent to 65 percent of the state median income (SMI). While experiences with the scholarship program in relation to the pandemic were not specifically explored, we also asked providers about the benefits of the subsequent reimbursement rate increase to the 60th percentile of the 2019 MRS that occurred during the pandemic in November 2020. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States
State(s)/Territories/Tribal Nation(s):

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