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Characteristics of Families Served by Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Based on Preliminary FY 2012 Data

Published: February 5, 2014
Program Data and Statistics

Child care subsidies help low-income families with children under age 13 pay for child care so that parents can work or participate in training or education activities.  Parents typically receive subsidies in the form of vouchers that they can use with a provider of their choice–whether a relative, neighbor, child care center, or after-school program. States have a great deal of flexibility to establish child care subsidy policies to meet their needs. Thus, national data on the characteristics of families served masks a large degree of variation across individual States.

  • Number served.  Approximately 1.5 million children and 903,500 families per month received child care assistance in FY 2012.
  • Income level.  Of the families served in FY 2012, 51 percent were below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), or $19,900 for a family of three.  Twenty-five percent had incomes between 100 and 150 percent of the FPL, and 13 percent had incomes above 150 percent of FPL.  The remaining families had invalid or unreported data or a child as head of household.
  • TANF status.  Nationally, the average monthly percent of families reporting  income from TANF was approximately 17 percent in FY 2012.  Most States give families currently receiving, at-risk of receiving, or transitioning off TANF, first priority for child care assistance.
  • Ages.  Subsidies help pay for care for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, as well as school-aged children. For children receiving CCDF subsidies in FY 2012:
    • 33 percent were school-aged (6 years & older)
    • 11 percent were kindergarten-aged (age 5 years)
    • 28 percent were preschoolers (3 & 4 years old)
    • 28 percent were infants and toddlers (younger than 3 years old)
  • Settings – Type of Care.  Because the subsidy program emphasizes parental choice, children are cared for in a wide variety of settings.  Nationally, in FY 2012:
    • 68 percent of children receiving subsidies were cared for in a child care center
    • 21 percent were in family child care homes
    • 4 percent were in the child’s own home
    • 6 percent were in a group home
    • 1 percent invalid / not reported data
  • Settings – Regulation Status.  Nationally, in FY 2012:
    • 83 percent of children receiving subsidies were cared for in regulated settings,
    • 17 percent were settings legally operating without regulation. Of those,
      • 62 percent were served by relatives in child, family, and group homes; and
      • 38 percent were served by non-relatives in child, family, and group homes
  • Family Copayments.  Of those families with reported income in FY 2012, approximately 75 percent paid a copayment.  Excluding families with no copayments, child care copayments averaged seven percent of family income.  Approximately half of the States and Territories (22 in FY 2012) served families where the average assessed family copayment was five percent or less of family income.
  • Reasons for Care.  In FY 2012, 93 percent of families cited either employment or education and training as the reason for needing child care.  Another six percent cited protective services as reasons for care. 
  • Providers Receiving CCDF Funds.  Nationally, in FY 2012, 460,902 child care providers served children receiving CCDF subsidies:
    • 20 percent (91,260) of providers receiving CCDF funds were child care centers; and
    • 80 percent (369,642) of providers receiving CCDF funds were home-based providers.

Note:  Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.