Parents' Child Care Preferences: Patterns among Welfare Mothers


This report examines the child care preferences of 382 mothers with children under age six who received Aid to Families with Dependent Children during the 14-month period beginning September 1983. The project included interviewing these women twice and using models to predict their satisfaction with child care arrangements. Findings include that: (1) relatives, especially grandparents, are the predominant caregivers for preschool children among this population; (2) in-home care by relatives gets high ratings for convenience of location and hours, low child-to-adult ratio, and child's happiness, but other aspects of this type of care resulted in parents' dissatisfaction; (3) mothers using group care were significantly more satisfied than mothers using other types of care; (4) few respondents had the type of child care arrangement they would choose, if they could choose any type at all; and (5) attributes of care that contribute to higher levels of parental satisfaction are adequacy of adult supervision and the convenience of the hours care is provided. The study concludes that, because factors such as convenient location are more important to parents' satisfaction than the type of care itself, policies should focus on expanding the availability of child care during off hours, improving the geographic accessibility of child care, and improving the learning opportunities provided to older children in child care. [24 PDF pages]

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