Preferences, Perceptions, and Child Care Turnover: Patterns Among Welfare Mothers


This study investigates factors associated with changes in the child care arrangements of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients. To conduct the study, the authors interviewed a sample of AFDC recipients in 1984 and 1985, examined welfare case records, and developed models predicting AFDC mothers' transitions into and out of child care. Findings include that: (1) mothers' perceptions of child care are strongly related to their patterns of child care (i.e., women who are satisfied with their child care arrangements are significantly less likely to end these arrangements, and the convenience of the arrangement is the most important of several dimensions of satisfaction); and (2) mothers who perceive that it is difficult to find satisfactory child care and mothers who prefer center care are more likely than others to begin a child care arrangement, probably because they are better informed about child care. Implications of these findings are that: (1) policies that lower the cost of care probably will lead to more stable child care arrangements; (2) the type of care used may be less crucial than other factors in determining the stability of child care arrangements; and (3) welfare mothers' employment would be promoted by policies enhancing their knowledge of available child care services and making them aware of programmatic options available to them under the welfare program. [34 PDF pages]

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