Child Care Choices of Low-Income Families with Vulnerabilities
||This project explores the ways in which low-income, vulnerable families choose child care. The goal is to identify the family characteristics and contextual factors that expand or limit child care choices. The three-year project takes place in several low-income, urban communities participating in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Making Connections initiative. The sites are Oakland, Providence, Seattle, and Denver. The focus is on vulnerable families, including families who have children with special needs, parents who are English language learners or immigrants, parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and children at risk of maltreatment. The research includes a family study and a community study. The family study includes two rounds of field-based, semi-structured interviews with parents regarding their decision-making processes related to child care. The community study, which takes place between the two rounds of family interviews, includes interviews with key community members regarding the community and policy contexts that affect child care choices. The following research questions are addressed: (1) What factors influence choice of care among low-income working families in a diverse set of urban neighborhoods? How do different families with particular vulnerabilities make child care choices?; (2) How do child care choice processes of parents overall, and particularly families who have special vulnerabilities, interact with several key contextual factors (e.g., job options, local policies and programs)?; and (3) What family characteristics or contextual factors seem to particularly expand or constrain the child care choices of low-income families overall, and the lives of vulnerable families in particular? Which of these seem amenable to policy strategies to support choices for low-income working families, and what should these strategies be?
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