Who uses child care subsidies? Comparing recipients to eligible non-recipients on family background characteristics and child care preferences
The federally funded, state-administered child care subsidy program provides subsidies to low-income families. Despite being among the government's most significant investments in early care and education, recent national estimates suggest that fewer than 30% of eligible families receive subsidies and the predictors of subsidy receipt remain poorly understood. This study investigates the predictors of subsidy receipt among eligible families, with data drawn from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study -- Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). Using logit regression models, we compare subsidy recipients to the eligible non-recipients of subsidies as a group, and then classified by the type of care the non-recipients do use: Head Start, public pre-kindergarten, or unsubsidized care. Results indicate that subsidy recipients are generally more advantaged than the eligible non-recipients of subsidies. In particular, subsidy recipients have more resources and fewer hassles than eligible non-recipients. These findings can aid state subsidy administrators in more effectively targeting their outreach and enrollment efforts and ultimately in increasing the use of this important program.
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