Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17121 The Relationship Between State-Level Characteristics and Child Care Subsidy Policy Choices

Friday, January 13, 2012: 10:00 AM
Wilson (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Yoonsook Ha, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Marci Ybarra, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Background: Prior research has demonstrated that there is substantial variation in child care subsidy policy choices across states, including program eligibility, provider reimbursement and family copayment rates, and incentives for child care provider participation (Ha & Ybarra, 2010). However, we know relatively little regarding the types of state-level characteristics that may shape such diverse child care subsidy policy decisions by states. Related research on state's TANF policy choices has found that state-level characteristics such as political affiliation, rates of poverty, and budgetary constraints are associated with the stringency of a state's TANF programs which in turn affect program outcomes for families.

Methods: Using a similar analytic approach to welfare policy research, we examine the relationship between state-level characteristics and child care subsidy policy choices that impact program access and ongoing participation by low-income families. Key state-level characteristics include budget constraints, TANF policy, individual population characteristics, poverty, and political affiliation. We focus on six child care subsidy policy domains that affect program access and ongoing participation: income eligibility, wait lists, priority access for TANF families, provider reimbursement rates, ongoing participation income limits, and family copayments. 2007 data sources utilized include information on state-level child care subsidy policies drawn from the National Women's Law Center, and data on the characteristics of 50 states and the District of Columbia are drawn from multiple sources, including the Welfare Rules Database for information on state's TANF policy, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics for state-level employment characteristics, and Census data for relevant state-level population characteristics.

Findings: Descriptive results suggests great diversity in the stringency level states select in determining their child subsidy policies, particular in states with high rates of poverty. We use 2007 information on state-level characteristics and TANF policy to predict child care subsidy policy choices in 2008. We employ multivariate logistic regression models to estimate the relationship between these state-level characteristics and the stringency of each of six child care subsidy policy domains, all else equal.

Implications: Our findings on the relative stringency level of child care subsidy policy choices and associated state-level characteristics will assist scholars, policy makers, and practitioners in better understanding the impact of policy and subsequent program outcomes for low-income families.

Previous Abstract | Next Abstract >>