Evaluation of Child Care Subsidy Strategies: Implementation of Three Language and Literacy Interventions in Project Upgrade

Published: June 15, 2010
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 describes the design and implementation of the three interventions tested in Project Upgrade, one of four experiments conducted as part of the Evaluation of Child Care Subsidy Strategies. The evaluation was 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. States must use at least four percent of CCDF funding, with the addition of 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 tested alternative subsidy policies and two that tested approaches to the use of quality set-aside funds. Project Upgrade in Miami-Dade County fell into the latter group of experiments. The study was a test of three different language and literacy interventions, implemented in child care centers in Miami-Dade County that served low-income families, most of whom received a subsidy for child care. Two of the three interventions had significant impacts on children’s language and pre-literacy skills.

Last Reviewed: April 29, 2019