Millions of working parents are familiar with the daily juggling act involved in managing child care arrangements and job responsibilities. Low-income working parents handle this same juggling act but with more limited resources. To help alleviate these well-known struggles, the federally-funded Child Care and Development Fund provides financial support to help low-income parents secure child care and get to work or access job training activities. Serving as a workforce support to low-income families is one of the CCDF program’s top goals, and research shows that the program is succeeding at this. Multiple research studies, conducted over time and in varying economies, show that child care subsidies made available to poor working families were associated with parents’ ability to obtain and maintain employment.
Another important goal of the CCDF program is to support quality improvement for child care systems. The program specifically calls for at least four percent of funding to go toward this goal. Many states are using these dollars to develop Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, which are designed to support and rate program quality. A large body of research has linked higher quality child care to enhanced developmental outcomes among low-income children. Ideally subsidies benefit children in low-income families by allowing parents to purchase high-quality care. Research to better understand the association between child care subsidy receipt and positive child outcomes is underway.
Senior Research Scientist
Child Outcome Measures in the Study of Child Care Quality: Overview and Next Steps M. Zaslow; T. Halle; N. Cabrera; J. Calkins; L. Pitzer; N. G. Margie. Evaluation Review, 30(5), 577-610.