A happy father and child

In a new brief, Public Policy Associates (PPA) shares the results of its analysis of administrative data from the Child Development and Care (CDC) program, which provides child care assistance to low-income families. This research was conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Looking at a period before and after five significant policy changes to the CDC program, PPA found that extending the eligibility period to 12 months and establishing graduated exit from subsidy as a participant’s income rises (both implemented in 2015) helped families keep their children with the same provider longer, retain subsidies, and access care from higher-quality providers. Other policy changes (delinking provider assignment from eligibility, increased provider rates, and raising income eligibility to 130% of the federal poverty threshold), had a lesser, but still statistically significant, effect on these outcomes. As noted in an earlier, more extensive PPA report, the scale of the increases for provider rates and eligibility may not have been substantial enough to have greater effects.

Based on the findings, PPA recommends in the brief that policymakers consider ways to build on these results to benefit families and providers, such as through increased access and continuity. With significant federal dollars now being devoted to child care, there is an opportunity to devote resources to building a strong system for supporting current and potential participants in the CDC program.

Later this year, PPA will report on its analysis of policy-change effects by geography and race/ethnicity, as well as the impacts of policy changes made to the program in connection with COVID-19.

For more information about PPA’s study of the CDC program policy changes and its work on child care issues, please contact Colleen Graber at cgraber@publicpolicy.com.