Panel: Access to Early Care and Education for Whom? a Look at Family Outcomes for Diverse Populations
(Family and Child Policy)

Saturday, November 9, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Court 7 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Ying-Chun Lin, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Panel Chair:  Anna Gassman-Pines, Duke University
Discussant:  Deborah Phillips, Georgetown University

High-quality early care and education (ECE) programs have the capacity for supporting both children’s development and parents’ employment and well-being, yet these benefits are contingent on families’ ability to access ECE programs. These concerns are especially heightened among vulnerable subpopulations of families who are impacted by issues of economic precarity, unique needs associated with parent and/or child circumstances, or other structural barriers. Despite being most likely to yield the greatest benefit from ECE participation, these families are less likely to access ECE. With a focus on the diverse and unique needs of families from vulnerable populations, this panel integrates perspectives from education, public policy, and social work to examine ECE access and its influences on both children and families, which is especially timely given numerous policy efforts at multiple levels of government (e.g., Child Care and Development Fund reauthorization; Preschool Development Grants) for ensuring access for all children.


Papers in this panel focus broadly on the role of the constellation of policies intended to support access to high-quality ECE. Paper 1 uses administrative data from North Carolina to examine the influence of employment instability on both ECE enrollment patterns and ECE availability, particularly before and after the Great Recession. Results indicate differences by provider type where, relative to publicly-funded ECE, private centers were more likely to lose enrollment and close down in counties with growing economic precarity. The remaining two papers examine how families from two different subpopulations of vulnerable families engage in this dynamic patchwork system of ECE providers given unique and diverse needs. Paper 2 uses the ECLS-B and a difference-in-differences framework to examine parental employment and ECE access for families of children with disabilities. Results support the notion that current policy environments may be adequately supporting these families’ access to ECE during the preschool years. Paper 3 uses data from the CCDF Policies database to examine how state child care subsidy policies support ECE access for children of low-income immigrant families. Results suggest that state policies have differing effects for children of immigrants compared with children of U.S.-born parents.

Policymakers increasingly seek to identify ways to support the needs of diverse families, and these papers together help inform policy focused on ECE access for particularly vulnerable families. The panel’s focus on outcomes for both parents and children broadens the discussion to consider implications of ECE access for families as a whole. The papers will be discussed by a leading expert in family and child policy Dr. Deborah Phillips, who draws perspectives from developmental psychology to inform a number of ECE policy initiatives in the United States.

Equitable Access? Child Care for Families Raising Children with Disabilities
Molly Costanzo and Katherine Magnuson, University of Wisconsin, Madison

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