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Predictors of low-income parent child care selections

This paper uses a mixed methods research design that combines qualitative and quantitative data from low-income parents to increase understanding of the dynamics of their child care decision-making. The paper relies on a graphically depicted conceptual model of the decision-making process. In the model, individual characteristics found in prior research to affect child care decisions are clustered into constructs: family, community, child care preferences, constraints and barriers, and financial assistance. Findings demonstrate that when controlling for other characteristics, most of the characteristics captured in the conceptual model predict type of child care selected. Study data include measures of employment constraints and a verified measure of subsidy receipt, both of which are important to understanding child care decisions of low-income parents and on which research is limited. We find both to be strong predictors of child care selection decisions. Parents' child care selection preferences emerge as the strongest predictors of the type of care selected. Parents' prioritization of support for learning and trust in the provider were the most likely to predict a specific type of care. Findings from this study have direct implications for policy and practice, especially as states implement the changes associated with the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 with its emphasis on helping parents select arrangements that support the child's development. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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