National Study of Child Care for Low-Income Families: Patterns of Child Care Use Among Low-Income Families, Final Report: Executive Summary

Published: September 15, 2007
Child Care
National Study of Child Care of Low-Income Families, 1997-2007 | Learn more about this project

The National Study of Child Care for Low-Income Families was a 10-year research effort conducted in 17 states and 25 communities within those states. The study was designed to provide Federal, state and local policy makers with information on the effects of Federal, state and local policies and programs on child care at the community level, and on the employment and child care decisions of low-income families. It also provides insights into the characteristics and functioning of family child care, a type of care frequently used by low-income families, and the experiences of parents and their children with this form of care.

The study was initiated in the wake of sweeping welfare reform legislation enacted in 1996. There are three components to the study. The first looked at how states and communities implement policies and programs to meet the child care needs of families moving from welfare to work, as well as those of other low-income families; how these policies change over time; and how these policies, as well as other factors, affect the type, amount, and cost of care in communities. Second, the study investigated the factors that shape the child care choices of low-income families, and the role that child care subsidies play in those choices. Finally, the study examined, in depth and over a period of 2½ years, a group of families that use various kinds of family child care and their child care providers, to develop a better understanding of the family child care environment and to what extent the care provided in that environment supports parents’ work-related needs and meets children’s needs for a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. This report focuses on the second component of the study.

Last Reviewed: April 29, 2019