Method: Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study (FFCWS) 3-year data, the analytical sample for this study consisted of 978 single working mothers in the United States. The dependent variables included child’s behavior problems (CBCL), which were measured at year-3 by the aggressive subscale. The independent variable included the amount of the out-of-pocket cost of all child care and two variables to measure the instability in child care arrangements: the number of changes in child care providers since the child’s first birthday and the number of special child care arrangements the mother made in the last month. The mediator variables were (1) physical abuse, (2) psychological abuse, (3) neglect. We used a regression-based approach to mediation analysis with bootstrap estimation of indirect effects (Preacher and Hayes’ indirect macro for SPSS), crosstab analysis, and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), were mainly used for data analysis, using SPSS 22.0 and SPSS MICRO 3.0.
Results: A significant association between economic child care burden and both physical abuse (B = .169, p <0.00) and psychological abuse (B = .853, p <.000) were established. Results also indicated that psychological abuse (.02; p <.05) partially mediated the relationship between economic child care burden and child behavior problems from bootstrapping. A significant association between instable child care arrangement burden and both physical abuse (B = .155, p <0.00) and psychological abuse (B = .847, p <.000) were established and the association between instable child care arrangement burden and child behavior problems (B = 1.78, p < .05) was significant. Result also indicated that psychological abuse (.035; p <.05) partially mediated the relationship between instable child care arrangement burden and child behavior problems from bootstrapping (1000 samples were drawn).
Implication: Overall, this study makes a contribution by defining the impact of the child care burden indicators on the risks of child maltreatments, especially, psychological abuse impacts on child behavior problems. Indeed, stronger economic and stable child care arrangement support for low-income working single mothers would lead to a lower level of both physical abuse and psychological abuse to their children and it would expect on less level of child behavior problems. Given our findings, policy and program interventions, accordingly, might focus on improving economic child care support for low-income single working mothers in order to reduce children’s behavior problems.