Panel: Child-Care Subsidies: Parental Stress, Child-Care Quality and Child Development
(Social & Family Policy)

Friday, November 9, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
International E (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizers:  Meryl L. Yoches, University of Maryland, College Park
Moderators:  Nicole Forry,
Chairs:  Chris M. Herbst, Arizona State University

In 2011, over five billion dollars were spent on Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), representing a large portion of the overall funds allocated for early childhood programs in the United States. Although the CCDF was established as a work support to fund child-care subsidies for low-income parents to pay for child-care, recent interest has focused on how the program is related to parent well-being (including feelings of financial stress), the quality of care that parents purchase, as well as children’s developmental outcomes. Research thus far is mixed on all of these issues. Some studies suggest that families using subsidies purchase higher-quality and more formal care, while other studies suggest this is not always the case. Moreover, some research suggests families using subsidies have children with lower academic achievement than similar families not using subsidies, but other studies find no such relationship. Finally, many studies find a positive relationship between subsidy-use and parental work hours, but few studies have examined families’ feelings of financial stress associated with subsidy-use. More research is necessary on all of these topics to fully understand the relationship between CCDF, parental financial stress, child-care quality and children’s development. This panel will address some of these unanswered questions. Paper 1 utilizes the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to investigate the relationship between subsidy-use the year before kindergarten and math and reading scores at kindergarten entry. The paper also examines how child-care quality and family background mediate this relationship. Paper 2 also employs the ECLS-B, but examines the longitudinal relationship between subsidy-use at two time points. This paper considers the extent to which using subsidies when children are 2-years old is related to child-care type and quality when children are 4-years old. Paper 3 makes use of a mixed method approach to examine how CCDF utilization is related to financial stress in families using subsidies. The paper also examines how families manage their finances and what this may mean for CCDF policy. Finally, Paper 4 uses the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being dataset to understand the extent to which parent well-being (including stress), child-care type and quality and children’s developmental outcomes vary depending on states’ CCDF regulations. This panel will be extremely important in answering many of the lingering questions that exist relating to CCDF policy, parent stress, child-care quality and children’s development. The use of both large-scale national datasets and mixed methods in these papers allows for both generalizations of these issues and an in-depth examination into what this program means for families. To add to the richness of the papers included in the panel, our discussant and chair are both experts on child-care subsidy policy research and will provide important insight to this work. This panel is an essential contribution in the intersection between developmental science and public policy.

Child Care Subsidies and Cognitive Development: Mediating Pathways
Laura Hawkinson, American Institutes for Research

Do Child-Care Subsidies Shift Children Into Higher Quality Care From Age 2 to Preschool?
Anna Johnson, Columbia University and Rebecca Ryan, Georgetown University

Struggling to Pay Bills: Using Mixed Methods to Understand Families' Financial Stress and Child-Care Costs
Bobbie Weber, Oregon State University and Elizabeth Davis, University of Minnesota

Parent Well-Being, Child-Care Quality and Child Development: Do State Subsidy Policy Variations Change This Relationship?
Meryl Yoches Barofsky and Elisa L. Klein, University of Maryland, College Park

See more of: Social & Family Policy
See more of: Panel