a child playing with blocks

Only a fraction of families eligible to use child care subsidies do so. According to a report by CLASP (Center for Law and Social Policy), only 12% of eligible children participate in their state’s CCDF child care subsidy program, with even the most successful state plateauing at under a quarter of children. Participation rates are even lower among some groups of children, such as children from Hispanic families. Understanding how payment policies affect program participation is crucial to improving access to quality child care. Studying the administrative burden that may go along with the program’s policies and processes is equally vital to better facilitating access.

Public Policy Associates (PPA) is pleased to share that the firm has been awarded a grant from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families to study Michigan’s payment policies and the administrative burdens that families, providers, and caseworkers may experience in connection with program processes. PPA is conducting this study in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start (MDE/OGS).

Input from child care providers, families, and eligibility specialists from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as well as a state-level advisory group, helped to shape the four-year research design.

Within the scope of the study are a range of payment policies including a temporary waiver of family co-payments, changes in payments to providers, payment by child enrollment rather than attendance, payment by time blocks rather than hours of care, and other new approaches. PPA researchers will conduct surveys, interviews, and secondary data analysis using an equity lens. They will also assess the complexity of program documents as part of measuring administrative burden.

“We are pleased to be partnering with PPA on this important research project,” said Lisa Brewer-Walraven, Director of Child Development and Care. “Our aim is to help as many families in need as possible in Michigan, and this project will aid us to see new opportunities to help children get off to a strong start in life.”

If you would like to know more about PPA’s work in early childhood education and care, please contact Colleen Graber at cgraber@publicpolicy.com.