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Subsidizing child care: How child care subsidies affect the child care used by low-income African American families

To evaluate the type and quality of child care used by low-income families who were either receiving or not receiving subsidized child care, we interviewed 111 African American parents from a randomly selected sample of low-income families. We inquired about their child-care use, satisfaction with care, work stress, and employment history. Using standardized assessment instruments, independent observers in the children's child-care setting evaluated the quality of the care and characteristics of the providers. We found that families using subsidized child care were more likely to use center care and other more formal types of care, while families not using subsidized child care were more likely to use a relative in the relative's home. Families using subsidized care tended to use licensed and registered child-care arrangements more than non-subsidized families. Also, subsidized families spent approximately half as much out-of-pocket money for child care. However, we found no evidence that the care used by families using subsidized care was of any higher quality than that used by non-subsidized families. We examine the possibility that child-care subsidy programs may not be adequately designed or funded to increase the availability of quality child care to low-income families. Educators and policy makers may want to consider additional means of increasing access to quality care in low-income families. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers
United States
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