Performance Improvement 2006. Child Care for Working Poor Families: Child Development and Parent Employment Outcomes


This study assessed types and quality of care used by low-income working families and explored links between children’s developmental and parents’ employment outcomes and child care quality. The researchers conducted parent focus groups, interviews with community child care leaders, parent and caregiver questionnaires, and structured observations and assessments of 307 children in their child care settings on a volunteer non-random sample in four counties in Indiana. The most common types of child care used were licensed centers (38 percent), licensed family child care homes (24 percent), child care ministries (16 percent), Head Start (nine percent), unlicensed family child care (eight percent), and relative care (five percent). Twenty percent of children started in child care soon after birth and more than 75 percent of children were in some type of child care by age eight months. Low-income working parents reported the primary reason for using child care was to work or attend school. Lack of flexibility in child care and work schedules were reported as a barrier to work. Overall, average global quality was rated below “good,” and 25 percent of classrooms or homes were below “minimal” quality. Child care for preschoolers was of higher quality than child care for infants and toddlers. Many children in this sample scored below national norms in areas of cognitive and language competence. In general, there were few significant links between child care quality and parent employment outcomes but there was scattered evidence that families whose children were enrolled in higher-quality care had more stable employment patterns.

PIC ID: 8212; Agency Sponsor: ACF-ACYF, Administration on Children, Youth and Families; Federal Contact: Martinez-Beck, Ivelisse, 202-690-7885; Performer: Purdue University, West Lafayette IN

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