Recent research studies from across the U.S. have shown:

  • Due to the high cost of child care, low-income families often face challenges in navigating difficult options – spending a significant portion of their income on child care, finding a less expensive but potentially lower-quality alternative, or abandoning their employment to become full-time caretakers. For these families, public subsidies hold great potential.
  • Child care subsidies are linked to better employment outcomes for parents. Low-income parents who use a subsidy are more likely to be employed than those who do not. Some also have higher wages and work more hours.
  • Public child care subsidies are designed to assist low-income parents in obtaining affordable, accessible, and consistent child care, but not all those who qualify use them.
  • The receipt of, or lack of, child care subsidies affects children’s participation in child care programs and parental employment. The more costly child care becomes, the fewer families can afford to enroll their children. Increasing prices also reduce parents’ ability to work and influences the type of care children receive.
  • State policies have the potential to strengthen outcomes and increase take-up rates, and further research on interventions and quality care is needed.