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Insights into the Black Box of Child Care Supply: Predictors of Provider Participation in the Child Care Subsidy System

High quality child care providers that accept subsidies are the linchpin to supporting parental employment and the child development needs of low-income families. Without the voluntary participation of private providers in child care subsidy systems, families may not be able to realize these critical benefits. However, little is known about which providers agree to participate and what factors may influence their participation. To help fill this gap in the current child care subsidy research, this mixed methods study will develop a conceptual model, identify and operationalize measures and model predictors of provider participation in the Massachusetts child care subsidy system. The quantitative portion of the study utilizes administrative data provided by the Massachusetts' Department of Early Education and Care merged with U.S. Census data to examine factors associated with provider decisions about 1) whether or not to participate in the subsidy system, 2) how many subsidy recipients to serve and 3) whether to accept vouchers and/or contract with the state for subsidized child care slots. The qualitative portion of the study utilizes interviews with center-based provider directors to explore pathways to subsidy participation and identify additional factors not examined in the quantitative models that affect providers' subsidy decisions. Factors to be examined in this study include providers' legal structure (for- or non-profit), organizational characteristics, types of services offered, local child care market characteristics, regional subsidy policies/practices, as well as other factors that are not as easily quantifiable or readily available such as the influence of mission statements, use of private donations/grants and perceptions of responsibility to the local community. Given the limited theoretical frameworks and empirical research on provider participation in the subsidy system, this mixed methods approach will allow for a more extensive testing of the study's proposed conceptual model.
Resource Type:
Administration for Children and Families/OPRE Projects
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Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

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