How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Impacts on Child Care Use

12/01/2001

1. Child Care for the Focal Child

There is no evidence on measures of child care use for the focal child in the past week that assignment to one of the LFA or HCD programs affected extent of reliance on child care arrangements at the time of the five-year follow-up. There were no impacts on families' use of a regularly scheduled child care arrangement or on sporadic use of child care in the past week. Total hours in child care across all regular arrangements did not differ in any of the LFA or HCD programs, nor did reliance on multiple arrangements.

There was very little evidence of a shift in type of arrangements relied upon. Notably, there were no program impacts on any use of self-care or on reliance on a child care provider aged 17 or under in the primary arrangement (but see the findings below on time spent with only a young peer or sibling when mothers reported time use on a recent weekday). Thus, there is no indication of an increase in reliance on these potentially problematic arrangements by LFA or HCD program group members when considering child care arrangements in the week prior to the interview.

With a single exception (the Riverside LFA program diminished reliance on formal child care), there were no impacts on use of formal and informal child care as the main arrangement.

2. Supervision and Activities for the Focal Child

Findings will now be presented for the measures of with whom the focal child spent his or her time on a recent weekday afternoon and evening. Because mothers were also asked to report whether the child was in a child care setting for this time period (child care in a center or program, child care by a babysitter, or care in either context on a drop-in basis), it is possible to directly juxtapose impacts on child care and impacts on mothers' reports of whom the child was with. For example, it will be possible to identify whether there were impacts on supervision (whom the child was with) even in the absence of impacts on measures of child care. This set of questions again addresses whether children spent time in self-care, here also asking about time spent with only a young peer or sibling (under age 13). Finally, this section reports on participation in activities or lessons (such as a sport, club, or music lesson) during after-school hours.(26) (See Table 10.3.)

 

Table 10.3
Impacts on Activities Engaged in by the Focal Child on a Recent Weekday
Site and Program Sample Size Program Group Control Group Difference (Impact) Percentage Change (%)

Number of half-hour time periods spent with the mother (0-18 periods from 3 pm to midnight)

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 578 12.9 12.7 0.2 1.6
Atlanta Human Capital Development 649 13.2 12.7 0.5 3.6
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 392 12.5 12.2 0.3 2.5
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 376 13.0 12.2 0.8 6.8
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 477 13.4 14.3 -0.9* -6.3
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 304 13.9 14.8 -0.9* -6.2
Riverside Human Capital Development 396 14.1 14.9 -0.8* -5.5

Number of half-hour time periods spent with an adult other than the mother (0-18 periods from 3 pm to midnight)

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 578 3.6 3.7 -0.1 -3.7
Atlanta Human Capital Development 649 3.2 3.7 -0.4 -12.0
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 392 4.4 4.5 -0.1 -2.0
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 376 4.2 4.5 -0.3 -6.5
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 477 3.5 2.5 0.9** 37.4
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 304 2.8 2.1 0.6 29.8
Riverside Human Capital Development 396 2.9 2.1 0.9* 42.0

Any time spent without an adult present from 3 p.m. to midnight (%)

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 578 11.5 12.7 -1.1 -9.0
Atlanta Human Capital Development 649 12.1 13.1 -1.0 -7.5
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 392 5.4 7.2 -1.8 -24.5
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 376 3.5 7.3 -3.8 -51.7
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 477 11.1 10.2 0.9 8.9
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 304 15.2 9.8 5.5 55.9
Riverside Human Capital Development 396 10.2 9.6 0.6 6.3

Number of half-hour time periods spent with only a young peer or sibling (under age 13, 0-18 periods from 3 pm to midnight)

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 578 0.9 0.9 0.0 2.9
Atlanta Human Capital Development 649 0.9 0.9 0.1 7.4
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 392 0.8 0.9 -0.2 -17.2
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 376 0.5 0.9 -0.4* -39.4
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 477 0.7 0.6 0.1 24.0
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 304 0.7 0.5 0.2 30.5
Riverside Human Capital Development 396 0.6 0.6 0.1 11.7

Any time periods in child care (sitter, center or program, or drop-in child care) from 3 p.m. to midnight (%)

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 580 15.1 15.5 -0.5 -3.0
Atlanta Human Capital Development 650 10.6 15.3 -4.7* -30.5
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 394 14.2 18.7 -4.5 -24.1
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 380 14.2 18.2 -4.0 -21.8
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 493 1.4 4.4 -2.9* -67.0
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 313 1.6 1.5 0.1 10.0
Riverside Human Capital Development 406 5.8 1.7 4.0** 232.0

Any time periods in an activity or lesson from 3 p.m. to midnight (%)

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 580 8.2 8.4 -0.2 -2.3
Atlanta Human Capital Development 650 7.5 8.5 -1.0 -11.2
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 394 3.9 6.1 -2.3 -37.0
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 380 5.8 5.5 0.3 5.3
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 493 2.8 6.0 -3.2 -53.2
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 313 1.8 5.5 -3.7 -67.8
Riverside Human Capital Development 406 2.2 4.9 -2.6 -54.1
SOURCE: Child Trends calculations from the Five-Year Child Outcomes Study survey (mother reports).
NOTES:  See Appendix A.2

There were virtually no impacts on any of these variables in the Grand Rapids and Atlanta programs. However, there was a cluster of findings for both programs in Riverside. They indicate a decrease in time with mother and an increase in time with an adult other than the mother in both programs. In the aggregate, none of the programs increased the proportion of children who spent time in after-school activities or who spent time unsupervised by an adult. For the subgroup of families in which the mother lacked basic education at baseline in Riverside, the LFA program increased the proportion of children who spent time without an adult present (though a sizable difference, this was just above the cutoff for significance). These findings are presented in greater detail below.

3. Impacts on the Riverside Programs

The LFA program: all families. For all families assigned to the LFA program in Riverside (irrespective of mothers' educational level at baseline), focal children in the program group spent significantly less time with their mothers and more time with an adult other than the mother. These impacts did not reflect large differences in amounts of time spent with the mother and another adult, however, averaging about a single half-hour less with the mother and about a single half-hour more with another adult.

This increase in time spent with another adult was reported in the absence of an impact on mothers' report of child care use during this period. The impact noted above on type of care for the Riverside LFA program can now be placed in a larger context. In this program, there was apparently a shift in type of care away from reliance on formal child care (detected in the measure of child care use in the past week) and toward reliance on another adult to supervise the child in a situation mothers did not describe as child care.

The LFA program: families in which the mother lacked a high school diploma or GED at baseline. For families in the LFA program in which the mother lacked a high school diploma or GED at baseline, the pattern was similar to that for all LFA families in that program group children spent less time with their mothers (with the difference in time periods again just under a single half-hour) and were less likely to be in a formal child care setting on a regular basis (though the difference in formal child care use was just above the cutoff for statistical significance in this sample). However, unlike those in the full LFA sample, children of mothers in the LFA program who lacked this credential at baseline did not spend more time with another adult. Rather, they were more likely than the control group and the HCD program group to have spent time without an adult present, though this sizable difference, comparable to impacts on other measures, was just above the cutoff for statistical significance. This is the one indication of a finding pointing to a program increasing self-care, and it is of concern that it occurs in a higher-risk subgroup.

The HCD program. Children of HCD program group members spent less time with the mother and more time with another adult than their control group counterparts. These differences also involved only about a single half-hour. However, children of HCD program group members were more likely than their control group counterparts to be in what the mother described as child care (including center or program care, a babysitter, or drop-in care in either setting). Indeed, children of mothers in the HCD program were also significantly more likely than children of mothers with limited education in the LFA program to be in child care on a recent weekday.

The clustering of impacts on measures of supervision and child care in the Riverside site is in accord with impacts on employment in the Child Outcomes Study sample. The measure of mothers' employment that is most closely aligned in terms of time frame is a survey measure of full-time employment at the time of the survey. Impacts on this measure were statistically significant only in the Riverside site and were moderate to large in size.(27) For families in the Riverside LFA program (irrespective of mothers' educational level at baseline), there was a difference of 11 percentage points in reported current full-time employment (40.6 percent of program group mothers and 29.6 percent of control group mothers reported current full-time employment) and the impact for those in the LFA program who lacked a high school diploma or GED was 15.5 percentage points (39.2 of program group members compared to 23.7 of control group members reporting employment). The impact for the Riverside HCD program was 9 percentage points (32.7 percent of program group mothers and 23.7 percent of control group mothers reported current full-time employment). Thus, the child care and activities findings correspond closely to impacts on concurrent employment, specifically full-time employment as reported by the mother, in the Riverside site.

Further impacts on adult outcomes in the Child Outcomes Study sample may also be relevant. At the time of the five-year follow-up, Riverside program group members were more likely than control group members to be cohabiting (significant for the full LFA group; not shown), to have a new baby (significant for the full LFA group and also for those in the LFA group lacking a high school diploma or GED at baseline),(28) and to be living with a partner or spouse as well as children (not shown). In the Riverside LFA group, program group children spent less time with the mother and more time with another adult (though not in the context of what the mother describes as child care). One interpretation of these findings is that program group children more often than control group children were cared for in their mother's absence by the mother's spouse or cohabiting partner.