Child Care Subsidy Duration and Caseload Dynamics: A Multi-State Examination. Length of Spell Duration

10/01/2014

The amount of time that families receive child care subsidies can be presented in different ways. One possibility is with a Kaplan-Meier survival curve, like that shown in Figure 4. The x-axis in the figure represents the number of consecutive months that families received child care subsidies and the y-axis signifies the percentage of the caseload that “survived” to the corresponding month in the x-axis.14 For example, slightly less than half (47 percent) of families received subsidies for six or more months, and about 25 percent participated for at least 12 months before experiencing at least one month without receipt.15 Uninterrupted subsidy participation for at least two years was somewhat uncommon; these spells represented about 11 percent of the families that began subsidy use in FY 2007 (i.e., between October 2006 and September 2007). About six percent of families received child care subsidies for at least 36 consecutive months.

Figure 4. Kaplan-Meier Survival Curve: The Percentage of Families in the 35 States that Received Child Care Subsidies to Particular Lengths of Time without Experiencing at Least One-Month of Non-Receipt (FY 2007)

Figure 4. Kaplan-Meier Survival Curve: The Percentage of Families in the 35 States that Received Child Care Subsidies to Particular Lengths of Time without Experiencing at Least One-Month of Non-Receipt (FY 2007)

Another way to analyze length of subsidy receipt is to examine the percentage of families that experienced spell durations of various lengths. This is shown in Figure 5 for families that began spells of subsidy use in Fiscal Year 2007 for either their first time or after at least 36 months of non-receipt. When the families from the 35 states are analyzed together, about 21 percent of them completed spells in one or two months, and another 25 percent completed spells in three to five months. About 29 percent of families had spell lengths of 12 months or greater.

One of the most common methods of analyzing subsidy durations is with medians. Figure 6 presents the median spell lengths of families in the 35 states that began new spells of participation for either their first time or after at least one month on non-receipt. The time period is restricted to families beginning new spells between January 2004 and August 2009. The data from the 35 states presented in the figure reveal that median spell lengths have seasonal patterns that generally fluctuate between four and seven months.16 Families that began subsidy usage in the months of August to January had higher medians spell lengths than families beginning program use during other months of the year. In general, median spell durations were particularly low when they began in June compared to the spell durations that began in the late summer and early fall months.

Figure 5. Number of Continuous Months that Families Received Child Care Subsidies before Leaving the Subsidy Program or Experiencing at Least One Month of Non-Receipt (Percentages of All Families Entering the Programs in FY 2007)

Figure 5. Number of Continuous Months that Families Received Child Care Subsidies before Leaving the Subsidy Program or Experiencing at Least One Month of Non-Receipt (Percentages of All Families Entering the Programs in FY 2007)

Number of Continuous Months that Families Received Child Care Subsidies before Leaving the Subsidy Program or Experiencing at Least One Month of Non-Receipt (Percentages of All Families Entering the Programs in FY 2007)


Percentages of All Families Entering the Programs in FY 2007

All 35 states

MonthsPercentages
1 to 2 Months21%
3 to 5 Months25%
6 to 11 Months26%
12 to 23 Months17%
24+ Months12%

Figure 6. Median Consecutive Months that Families in the 35 States Received Child Care Subsidies without Exiting the Subsidy System or Experiencing at Least One Month of Non-Receipt by Month of Entry (January 2004 to August 2009)

Figure 6. Median Consecutive Months that Families in the 35 States Received Child Care Subsidies without Exiting the Subsidy System or Experiencing at Least One Month of Non-Receipt by Month of Entry (January 2004 to August 2009)

Table 3 presents spell medians by state for Fiscal Years 2004 through 2009. Care should be used when making comparisons across years and between states with the data in this table. The data for the months of November and December in Fiscal Year 2004 are not included in the calculations and their exclusion could distort the medians displayed for this year to some degree. In addition, as stressed earlier, states sometimes change which non-CCDF families they include in their ACF-801 data submissions, which may result in changes solely attributed to varying reporting patterns that were not related to actual changes in the caseloads themselves. In addition, any analysis of individual states should take into account various environmental, political, and economic factors. For example, Hurricane Katrina may have had an impact on Louisiana’s median spell durations in late Fiscal Year 2005 and the early part of Fiscal Year 2006.

Of the 35 states in Fiscal Year 2009, 31 had median spell durations between 4 and 8 continuous months. Nevada (3 months) was a low outlier and Tennessee (9 months), Kentucky (10 months), and the District of Columbia (13 months) were upper outliers that year. The median spell durations shown in Table 3 for the combined 35 states reveal that median aggregate child care subsidy durations remained fairly consistent between FY 2005 and FY 2009; the medians remained at six for all of those years. However, changes in median spell durations were somewhat more pronounced for individual states. Of the 35 states, 13 had the same medians in Fiscal Year 2009 as they had in Fiscal Year 2005. In the remaining states, 20 of them had median spells that were at least one month higher In Fiscal Year 2009 than in Fiscal Year 2005. Among the most notable changes was the state of Kentucky, which had a median spell length of six in Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007, a median spell length of eight in Fiscal Year 2008, and a median spell length of 10 in Fiscal Year 2009. Two states had decreases in their median spell durations during this time period; South Carolina had a median spell duration that was one month lower and Rhode Island had a median spell duration that was two months lower in Fiscal Year 2009 than in Fiscal Year 2005.

Table 3. Median Number of Continuous Months that Families Received Child Care Subsidies before Exiting the Subsidy System for at Least One Month (Fiscal Years 2004 through 2009)

StateFY 2004FY 2005FY 2006FY 2007FY 2008FY 2009
All 35 States566666
Alabama555655
Arizona655555
Colorado444445
Delaware556556
District of Columbia141212131313
Georgia666668
Hawaii545766
Idaho566556
Illinois666666
Kansas578888
Kentucky6566810
Louisiana9710998
Maine888688
Maryland666777
Michigan668877
Missouri666776
Montana555555
Nebrask 5444435
Nevada223333
New Hampshire666666
New Jersey343444
New Mexico666767
North Dakota444444
Ohio555556
Oklahoma335555
Rhode Island998777
South Carolina677776
South Dakota566656
Tennessee777779
Texas566677
Utah566666
Vermont678788
West Virginia555566
Wisconsin667777
Wyoming555555

Note: In order to avoid problems associated with left-censoring the medians for spells that began in October 2004 through December 2004 are excluded. In order to avoid problems with right-censoring the medians for the months of July, August, and September are excluded for the District of Columbia in FY 2009. The families in this figure were either entering the subsidy system for the first time, or entering after at least one month of non-receipt.

Table 4. Median Spell Durations of Families by Age of Youngest Child and State

StateAge 0Age 1Age 2Age 3Age 4Age 5Ages 6 to 8Ages 9 to 12
All 35 States76766544
Alabama77776543
Arizona65655443
Colorado55554332
Delaware76655553
District of Columbia151413139799
Georgia66765443
Hawaii87797443
Idaho55666554
Illinois66666655
Kansas88998664
Kentucky77776443
Louisiana1010987766
Maine77777464
Maryland77766665
Michigan88777666
Missouri87776544
Montana55554333
Nebraska54444333
Nevada43343333
New Hampshire97877743
New Jersey45676433
New Mexico76776665
North Dakota54434433
Ohio66655533
Oklahoma65554443
Rhode Island87787766
South Carolina77887554
South Dakota65666533
Tennessee87775565
Texas67776544
Utah66667655
Vermont9117119663
West Virginia66666443
Wisconsin87777555
Wyoming56565433

Note: The families in this figure were either entering the subsidy system in Fiscal Year 2007 for the first time, or were entering after at least one month of non-receipt.


14 The data in this figure are restricted to families beginning new spells of participation in Fiscal Year 2007 for either their first time or after at least a 36-month absence from child care receipt.

15 The data to compute Kaplan-Meier survival curves for individual states can be found in Appendix Table 2.

16 The data for the individual states can be found in Appendix Table 3.

View full report

Preview
Download

"rpt_ChildCareSubsidy.pdf" (pdf, 436.15Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®