Child care policy, welfare reform, low-income families, National Survey of American Families


Legislated as part of welfare reform, the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the main source of child care government funding earmarked for low-income families. As a block grant, with broad federal guidelines, states have significant freedom in implementing this legislation to meet the needs of their citizens. This diverse implementation has challenged legislators and scholars trying to assess the success of CCDF across the United States. In considering the evaluation research of CCDF, as well as the original goals of this legislation, several major themes related to the diverse state implementation emerged, including access, equity, and stability. This paper provides an overview of CCDF, explains these themes, and uses the 2002 third wave of National Survey of American Families (NSAF) data to demonstrate how policy analysts and researchers might use these themes to structure comprehensive evaluations of CCDF at both state and federal levels.

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