Client-Friendly Strategies: What Can CCDF Learn from Research on Other Systems?

Publication Date: December 15, 2011


The child care subsidy system funded through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) provides critically needed child care assistance to almost a million low-income working families that need help paying for child care so they can work or attend training or education. Yet research suggests that some subsidy policies and implementation practices can create unintended barriers to subsidy access and retention, undercutting CCDF’s ability to meet its goals of stabilizing parental employment and supporting child development, and creating administrative inefficiencies. As a result, federal and state policymakers have become interested in helping the CCDF become more “client friendly” in its operation, with a particular interest in identifying strategies to make it easier for low-income working parents to navigate the process of obtaining and retaining subsidies. However, there is relatively little research assessing the effectiveness of different approaches to accomplish this goal within the CCDF. To inform this area of interest, this brief examines research from other benefit programs on the effectiveness of policies designed to make their services more client friendly and to help their clients get and keep benefits, and explores the implications both for CCDF policy and for future research.

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