Evaluation of Child Care Subsidy Strategies: Findings from Project Upgrade in Miami-Dade County
- Child Care
- Evaluation of Child Care Subsidy Strategies, 2001-2010 | Learn more about this project
- Implementation of Three Language and Literacy Interventions in Project Upgrade
This report summarizes findings from Project Upgrade, one of four experiments conducted as part of the Evaluation of Child Care Subsidy Strategies. Recognizing the need for information that would help states and communities allocate their child care subsidy funds as effectively as possible, the Child Care Bureau and the Office for Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) of the Administration for Children and Families within the US Department of Health and Human Services launched this major study in 2001. The study is being conducted by Abt Associates Inc, with its research partners MDRC and the National Center for Children in Poverty of Columbia University.
The evaluation is a multi-site, multi-year effort to determine whether and how different child care subsidy policies and procedures and quality improvement efforts help low-income parents obtain and hold onto jobs and improve outcomes for children. Study staff worked with states and communities across the country to identify significant issues and develop hypotheses about the use of child care subsidy funds that could be rigorously tested in a series of experiments. A guiding principle of the study was that state (or community) interests and preferences should play a large role in the choice of research topics and strategies.
The funds that flow to states through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), administered at the federal level by the Child Care Bureau have two purposes. The major portion of the funds provides subsidies for child care for children of low-income working parents whose eligibility is determined by states within broad federal guidelines. A small percentage of the funds (4%) is set aside, with state matching funds, to improve the quality of child care for all children. It was the expressed intention of the Child Care Bureau that the study generate a set of experiments that examined aspects of the use of both types of funds.
While some states expressed interest in testing some alternative policies governing the use of direct service dollars, many more were concerned about the effectiveness of their current use of funds intended to improve child care quality. Ultimately, study staff working closely with state and local staff, implemented four experiments, two that are testing alternative subsidy policies and two that test approaches to the use of quality set-aside funds. Project Upgrade in Miami-Dade County falls into the latter group of experiments.