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

12/01/2001

Findings that pertain to the full five-year follow-up show that most of the programs (five of the seven in the client survey sample) increased the likelihood of mothers' child care use after leaving welfare because of earnings. All of the programs except Grand Rapids HCD and Portland increased child care use in this way.(21)

A smaller number of programs significantly increased receipt of transitional child care benefits. Impacts were significant for both Atlanta programs and for the Riverside LFA program for both the full and in-need sample.(22) Atlanta LFA program group members were 11.5 percentage points more likely to have used child care after leaving welfare and were 10 percentage points more likely to have received transitional child care benefits than control group members. In addition, HCD program group members in Atlanta were 5.7 percentage points more likely to have used child care after leaving welfare and 3.9 percentage points more likely to have received transitional child care benefits than control group members. These impacts suggest that much of the increased child care use after leaving welfare because of Atlanta's welfare-to-work program was covered by transitional child care benefits. In contrast, though Riverside HCD program group members were 7.3 percentage points more likely than control group members to use child care after leaving welfare because of earnings, there were no significant differences in receipt of transitional child care benefits.

Across the full follow-up period, then, most programs increased reliance on child care after leaving welfare because of earnings, but fewer than half increased receipt of transitional child care benefits. It has been noted that there was substantial cross-site variation in control group families' receipt of transitional child care benefits. In general, the findings suggest the need for expanding information about subsidies, altering eligibility or increasing funding, and simplifying the administration of subsidies to encourage families to use transitional child care benefits.

Impact findings on child care use in connection with mothers' recent spell of employment are yet more limited. None of the LFA or HCD programs increased child care use while employed in a recent spell (but see the findings presented below for the COS sample on sustained employment for mothers and focal children's time use in both programs in Riverside). Portland program group members, on the other hand, were 6.9 percentage points, or 16 percent, more likely than control group members to use child care while employed in a recent spell. While none of the LFA or HCD programs significantly increased the proportion of families with any out-of-pocket expenses for child care, program group members in Portland had significantly higher total monthly out-of-pocket child care costs than control group members. Portland program group members who used child care while employed paid approximately $82 more in total monthly out-of-pocket costs than control group members who used child care while employed.(23)

In general, the findings for child care as a support for employment are in keeping with the prediction of more extensive impacts for the full follow-up period  for which employment impacts were more widespread  than for a recent spell of employment  when employment impacts were more limited. While there is a fairly widespread pattern of impacts on child care use while transitioning from welfare across the full follow-up, there is very little evidence of impacts on child care use for a recent spell of employment. The impacts that did occur were concentrated in Portland (and in Riverside, as discussed below), where there were impacts on sustained or recent employment. In Portland, there were impacts on full-time employment and employment in the last quarter of year 5 for families with young children.(24)