Child care subsidies boost quality of care for some but not all

June 14, 2012

The federally funded child care subsidy program is among the government's biggest investments in the early care and education of low-income children. A new study has found that subsidies have the potential to enhance the quality of child care low-income children receive, but parents who use the subsidies aren't necessarily accessing the highest quality of care available to them.

The study, conducted at Georgetown University and Columbia University, appears in the journal Child Development.

"Among all children who were eligible for , those who used the subsidies received lower quality care than those whose primary arrangement was instead a or a public prekindergarten program," according to Anna D. Johnson, postdoctoral research fellow in the department of psychology at Georgetown University, who led the study. Johnson and her colleagues believe that's because "Head Start and public prekindergarten programs were designed specifically to boost children's development by providing higher quality care. Their quality is, on average, higher than that of the community-based centers and home-based care that are used by subsidy recipients."

The researchers used data, drawn from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, that included a subsample of 750 4-year-olds whose were eligible for child care subsidies because they met income and work requirements. They compared the developmental quality of the child care settings used by parents who received subsidies to that of parents who were eligible for subsidies but didn't receive them, according to the type of care used by the latter group.

Parents who got subsidies received higher quality care only in comparison to parents who didn't get subsidies and used unsubsidized care. Parents who got subsidies were more likely to use center-based care than parents who didn't get subsidies, and center-based care was, on average, higher in quality than home-based care.

Among those families using home-based care, those who got subsidies used higher than those who didn't get subsidies. This suggests that perhaps subsidies allow parents who prefer home-based care to select settings that are licensed or regulated and are thus higher in quality than unlicensed care provided by a family member, friend, or neighbor.

"Increasing access to subsidies so that eligible families have more options may provide an additional avenue through which public policy can increase the quality of child care for low-income children," Johnson notes.

Explore further: New study examines link between child care subsidies and childhood obesity

Related Stories

New study examines link between child care subsidies and childhood obesity

December 14, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics by ASU's Chris Herbst, along with Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University, focuses on analyzing the impact of subsidized child care on disadvantaged ...

High-quality child care found good for children -- and their mothers

February 8, 2012
High-quality early child care isn't important just for children, but for their mothers, too. That's the conclusion of a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin; the study appears in the journal Child ...

First Nations and low-income children visit emergency departments more often for mental health care

June 11, 2012
First Nations children and those from families receiving government subsidies had more return visits to emergency departments for mental health crises than other socioeconomic groups, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian ...

Health-care disparities exist for children with autism spectrum disorders, researcher says

June 11, 2012
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) require an array of specialized health care services. With these services come higher costs for parents and insurance providers. University of Missouri researchers compared costs ...

Recommended for you

Molecules in spit may be able to diagnose and predict length of concussions

November 20, 2017
Diagnosing a concussion can sometimes be a guessing game, but clues taken from small molecules in saliva may be able to help diagnose and predict the duration of concussions in children, according to Penn State College of ...

Breastfed babies are less likely to have eczema as teenagers, study shows

November 13, 2017
Babies whose mothers had received support to breastfeed exclusively for a sustained period from birth have a 54% lower risk of eczema at the age of 16, a new study led by researchers from King's College London, Harvard University, ...

Obesity during pregnancy may lead directly to fetal overgrowth, study suggests

November 13, 2017
Obesity during pregnancy—independent of its health consequences such as diabetes—may account for the higher risk of giving birth to an atypically large infant, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. ...

Working to reduce brain injury in newborns

November 10, 2017
Research-clinicians at Children's National Health System led the first study to identify a promising treatment to reduce or prevent brain injury in newborns who have suffered hypoxia-ischemia, a serious complication in which ...

Why do some kids die under dental anesthesia?

November 9, 2017
Anesthesiologists call for more research into child deaths caused by dental anesthesia in an article published online by the journal Pediatrics.

Probability calculations—even babies can master it

November 3, 2017
One important feature of the brain is its ability to make generalisations based on sparse data. By learning regularities in our environment it can manage to guide our actions. As adults, we have therefore a vague understanding ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.