The impact of child care subsidy use on child care quality
In 2008, the federal government allotted $7 billion in child care subsidies to low-income families through the state-administered Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF),now the government's largest child care program (US DHHS, 2008). Although subsidies reduce costs for families and facilitate parental employment, it is unclear how they impact the quality of care families purchase. This study investigates the impact of government subsidization on parents' selection of child care quality using multivariate regression and propensity score matching approaches to account for differential selection into subsidy receipt and care arrangements. Data were drawn from the Child Care Supplement to the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (CCS-FFCWS), conducted in 2002 and 2003 in 14 of the 20 FFCWS cities when focal children were 3 years old (N= 456). Our results indicate that families who used subsidies chose higher quality care than comparable mothers who did not use subsidies, but only because subsidy recipients were more likely to use center-based care. Subgroup analyses revealed that families using subsidies purchased higher-quality home-based care but lower-quality center-based care than comparable non-recipients. Findings suggest that child care subsidies may serve as more than a work support for low-income families by enhancing the quality of nonmaternal care children experience but that this effect is largely attributable to recipients' using formal child care arrangements (versus kith and kin care) more often than non-recipients. (author abstract)
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Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (Rev. ed.)