Results. Approximately 70% of the FLP sample was subsidy-eligible at each time point with 23-33% taking-up subsidies. In bivariate analysis, compared to the subsidy-eligible who did not use subsidies, families who were subsidy-eligible and using subsidies were more likely to be employed and worked more jobs at all time points, at 24 months they worked more hours, received higher pay, and reported lower job satisfaction, and at 35 months their jobs were less self-directed. In regression analysis, subsidy use predicted workplace flexibility, such that at 24 months, those receiving subsidies had more flexible workplaces. We used SEM to examine how subsidy use at 24 months was related to maternal job quality (defined by standard shift, flexibility, benefits, job satisfaction, and wages) at 35 months with the FLP full sample. Results indicated that subsidy users had lower job quality. When running the model with only the subsidy eligible, subsidy use was not related to job quality, most likely because there is much less variance in work characteristics among these low-income families.
Conclusions and Implications. Child care subsidies are a crucial support for employment among the working poor, yet few were receiving the services for which they were eligible in the FLP. We have provided evidence that the use of subsidies is beneficial to the work experiences of poor, rural mothers who are able to work more hours and earn higher incomes than their counterparts who do not take up subsidies. However, their work experiences continue to be challenging, characterized by lower job satisfaction and low levels of self-direction. Outreach is needed to improve subsidy take-up rates, whereas initiatives are needed to improve skills and job quality of low-income workers in rural settings.