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Child care subsidies post TANF: Child care subsidy use by African American, White and Hispanic TANF-leavers


  • Shlay, Anne B.
  • Weinraub, Marsha
  • Harmon, Michelle


With welfare reform, appropriations for child care subsidies have increased with the goal of increasing the employability of welfare leavers while promoting children's access to quality, affordable child care. Yet, not all low-income eligible families use child care subsidies. Understanding which low-income families use child care subsidies and which do not will provide initial insights into the nature and effectiveness of the child care subsidy system. Does the child care subsidy program equally serve families from diverse cultural backgrounds? What family and demographic factors are associated with child care subsidy use? We compared child care subsidy experiences of equal numbers of African American, White, and Hispanic TANF-leavers in five counties in and around Philadelphia. Fifty-five percent of African American TANF-leavers, 43% of White TANF users, and 45% of Hispanic TANF users were not eligible for subsidies because they were not employed upon leaving welfare. Of those families eligible for child care subsidies, 78% of the eligible African American TANF-leavers, but only 49% of the White, and 45% of the Hispanic TANF users used subsidies. Similarly, 85% of the subsidy-eligible African American families used child care, but only 70% of the white and 67% of the Hispanic subsidy-eligible families used child care. Thus, African American families were more likely than other families to be eligible for subsidies, to use them when eligible, and to use child care when eligible. While race/ethnicity was the primary predictor of subsidy usage, an additional predictor for all families of not using subsidies was having economic support from relatives and friends. For African Americans, prior use of public subsidies and for Whites, the absence of mental health problems also predicted subsidy usage.

Suggested Citation

  • Shlay, Anne B. & Weinraub, Marsha & Harmon, Michelle, 2010. "Child care subsidies post TANF: Child care subsidy use by African American, White and Hispanic TANF-leavers," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 1711-1718, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:32:y:2010:i:12:p:1711-1718

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Blau & Erdal Tekin, 2007. "The determinants and consequences of child care subsidies for single mothers in the USA," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(4), pages 719-741, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Allison De Marco & Lynne Vernon-Feagans, 2015. "Child Care Subsidy Use and Child Care Quality in Low-Wealth, Rural Communities," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 383-395, September.
    2. Dorabawila, Vajeera & DuMont, Kimberly & Mitchell-Herzfeld, Susan, 2012. "A method for estimating child poverty rates, projections for the short-term and the relationship between child poverty and child care subsidy receipt at the county level," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 466-473.
    3. repec:eee:cysrev:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:218-228 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Johnson, Anna D. & Herbst, Chris M., 2013. "Can we trust parental reports of child care subsidy receipt?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 984-993.


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