Child Care State Reports . I. Child Care Subsidies


Figure 1.  Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Eligibility and Receipt in Pennsylvania

Chart on children by family type

Sources:  Urban Institute simulations and state administrative data reported to the Child Care Bureau.

  • 1,232,000 children under age 13 (or under age 18 if disabled) live in families where the family head (and spouse if present) is working or is in an education or training program, as shown in Figure 1. Children across all family income levels are included in this estimate. Most of these children (1,167,000) are under age 13 and living with working parents.1
  • 443,000 of these children, and 266,000 families, are estimated to meet Pennsylvania’s income guidelines for child care assistance under the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) October 1997 state plan. The eligibility estimate would be even higher – 534,000 children – if Pennsylvania raised income eligibility limits to 85 percent of State Median Income, the maximum level allowed under Federal law.2
    • To be eligible under Pennsylvania’s October 1997 state plan, a family of 3 had to have income below $31,320, or 74 percent of State Median Income.
    • More than three-fourths of eligible children (77 percent) live in families with annual income below 200 percent of the Federal poverty threshold and over one-quarter (27 percent) are living in poverty. About 10 percent live in families that report receiving cash welfare.
    • Most (389,000) eligible children are under age 13 with working parents; the remaining children have parents in education/training programs or are disabled youth under 18.
  • 73,000 children in Pennsylvania received child care subsidies funded by CCDF in an average month in 1998. This estimate suggests that 16 percent of the eligible population under state limits (and 14 percent of children who would be eligible under the Federal maximum limits) were served with CCDF funds. In addition, Pennsylvania’s state administrative data system indicates that about 9,000 children were served with other Federal and state funds.3
  • The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the major source of Federal funding allocated to states to subsidize the child care expenses of low- and moderate-income families so they can work, or attend education or training programs. Using CCDF dollars along with state funds, Pennsylvania has designed its own child care program within broad parameters specified under federal law. CCDF-funded subsidies, and the number of children that the state reported were served with these subsidies, are highlighted in this report because CCDF is a primary source of funding in most states. Also, CCDF administrative data is the most comparable source of child care data across states. It should be noted, however, that Pennsylvania, like many other states, also uses other funding sources to provide child care subsidies.
  • The state of Pennsylvania has multiple waiting lists for child care subsidies. Families that do not enter the child care system through the welfare system or do not have a child with special needs are most likely to be put on waiting lists. Children may be on a waiting list for one day or for several months. As of June 30, 1999, there were 4,764 children on the waiting list for subsidies in Pennsylvania. This number includes 1,530 children on the waiting list in Philadelphia and 940 children in Pittsburgh. By September 1999, Pennsylvania reduced the statewide waiting list by nearly 1,000 children to 3,776.4
    • In addition, state staff believe there are eligible families that do not apply for subsidies. This belief is corroborated by staff from Child Care Partnerships, a child care resource and referral agency that serves the Pittsburgh area.
    • The number of families applying for subsidies has more than doubled since Pennsylvania increased its funding for child care subsidies in February, 1999.