PIC ID: 8211; Agency Sponsor: ACF-ACYF, Administration on Children, Youth and Families; Federal Contact: Martinez-Beck, Ivelisse, 202-690-7885; Performer: Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Performance Improvement 2006. Barriers to Subsidies: The Influence of Family Characteristics on Child Care Subsidies Study II: Child Care Preferences and Study III: Child Care Quality and Preferences
Study II investigated how low-income families evaluate child care quality by examining the child care preferences of a sample of low-income African-American mothers. It employed the factorial survey technique - a method used to assess how people evaluate multidimensional phenomena freed from real- world constraints. The study assessed the impact of child care characteristics on respondents’ perceptions of child care desirability, fair market value, and willingness to pay. Findings indicate that parents’ definition of quality focused squarely on the care-giving environment, specifically the qualifications, experience, training, and behavior associated with the child care provider. The type of care facility - family, center, relative, or neighbor care - was largely irrelevant to this sample of parents. Parents believed that the characteristics they defined as desirable child care situations were worth more and were willing to pay more for them. A second component of the study (Study III) assessed the type and quality of child care used by low-income families who were either using or not using child care assistance to help offset the cost of care using standardized interviews with 112 low-income, inner-city parents; observations of 71 child care arrangements and interviews and surveys with child care providers. The researchers found that more families receiving child care assistance used center care than families not receiving assistance (77 percent vs. 58 percent). Little difference was seen in use of family day care arrangements across the two groups (15 percent vs. 19 percent), although, more families not using assistance had children cared for by a relative in the relative’s home than did families using assistance (19 percent vs. 2 percent). Overall, families using some kind of federal assistance to pay for child care tended to be more likely to have their children in licensed, registered arrangements than families not receiving assistance (89 percent vs. 71 percent). Families receiving child care assistance paid nearly half as much ($43.23 per week) as families not receiving child care assistance ($89.69).