Performance Improvement 2008. What Does the Low-Income Child Care Market Look Like After Welfare Reform; What Characterizes Family Child Care?

01/01/2008

This project studied the low income child care market in 25 communities in 17 States with a sub-study examining family child care in 5 neighborhoods. A survey was conducted of 2,500 low-income families to determine how they made child care decisions and to study the relationship between child care subsidies and their choices.

Family child care is different from center-based child care. It is typically provided in a private home, there are fewer children, and the caregiver is often related to the parent. For the sub-study, 650 parents and their family child care providers were interviewed and observations made of the child-caregiver interactions in the providers' homes. Parents using child care subsidies were interviewed in larger numbers relative to other groups in order to obtain more statistically robust results.

The sub-study found that family child care providers often accommodated the varied work schedules of the mothers (most of whom worked full-time, though their employment was unstable and they frequently did not work normal business hours). Parents believed they had alternative child care options available. Parents´ most frequent reasons for choosing their current child care arrangements were (a) the provider's home was safe, (b) the provider's arrangement worked well logistically with the parent's schedule and location, and (c) the parent had a trusting relationship with the provider. Family child care homes were indeed safe for children, and providers showed affection for and supervision of children, though learning activities comprised less than 10 percent of children's time in the home. On average, providers charged $83.17 per week of care, or $60.03 if the child was a relative. Families receiving child care subsidies spent less than half as much for out-of-pocket than parents of children not receiving subsidies.

Report Title: National Study of Child Care for Low-Income Families: Care in the Home: A Description of Family Child Care and the Families and Children Who Use It, Wave 1 Report, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/cc/nsc_low_income/index.html
Agency Sponsor:
ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Seth Chamberlain, 202-260-2242
Performer: Abt Associates Inc.
PIC ID: 8547.1

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