Maternal Well-Being, Child Care, and Children's Development in Families Eligile for Subsidies

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Barofsky, Meryl Yoches
Klein, Elisa L
Child-care subsidies (CCDF) were expanded after welfare reform in 1996 to help low-income families pay for child-care. Descriptive studies have been conducted on the relationship of subsidies to maternal work characteristics, but there is limited research on the extent to which CCDF is related to factors of maternal well-being. Although many studies have examined the relation between subsidy-use and child care type and quality, few studies have included child developmental outcomes as they relate to subsidy-use. A subsample of subsidy eligible mothers and their children from the Three-Year In-Home and Three-Year Child Care Study of the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study were used to examine these relationships. Propensity score matching was used to limit the sample and group code analysis and structural equation modeling were used to test the relationships between maternal well-being, child care and children's development. Finally, multiple group comparisons and latent class analyses with known groups were conducted to assess the invariance of the relationships in the models across families in states with divergent policy considerations. The results indicate that although subsidy use is not independently related to children's developmental outcomes, maternal well-being and child care quality are. Interactions between well-being, quality and subsidy-use were also found to be related to behavior problems and vocabulary. These relationships varied depending on choices states make about CCDF implementation. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.