Access to quality child care is crucially important for parents, children, and families, with studies showing positive impacts for children who experience high-quality early care and education. Unfortunately, access to child care for families remains inequitable across race, ethnicity, and income levels.

Public Policy Associates (PPA) was recently awarded a grant from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to investigate these inequalities in trends in child care and development (CDC) participation by examining the available secondary data, including the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) administrative data from across all 50 states and the American Community Survey (ACS). Through this study, PPA will attempt to identify subgroup inequities in CCDF subsidy participation; disparities in the use of center- vs. home-based care; as well as any longitudinal trends that may be found.

“The child care subsidy system is an important program that supports families across the country. However, there are questions about how equitable the system is for all families,” said Dr. Daniel Quinn, PPA’s director for education policy. “PPA’s study will attempt to understand how policies and practices contribute to inequities and barriers in our system,”

It is clear that the use of center-based care is growing. The question that this project will explore is whether the shift towards center-based care has had an unequal effect on access to child care by race, ethnicity, and deep poverty. There is also a lack of research regarding how disparities in use of federal child care subsidies have changed over time. This study should help to fill that unfortunate void.

Through this important study, it may be possible to find policy barriers that are having a negative impact on Michigan’s children of all communities to address the disparities at both the state and national levels, and where additional research may be needed. The study will provide a national-level longitudinal assessment, highlight the differences among the states, and identify the changes in access by provider type for Latino, Black, and high-poverty parents who are utilizing child care subsidies.

The overarching goal of this work is to improve access to quality child care for all families, no matter their income, where they live, or their race and ethnicity.

To learn more about PPA’s child care research, contact principal investigator Dr. Nathan Burroughs at