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Title:Factors influencing low-income working mother's child care arrangements under different neighborhood and state policy contexts
Author(s):Liu, Meirong
Director of Research:Anderson, Steven G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Zhan, Min
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Anderson, Steven G.; Eamon, Mary K.; Douglas, Jeffrey A.; Wu, Chi-Fang
Department / Program:School of Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Disadvantaged working mothers
child care
state policy
Abstract:The implementation of welfare reforms following passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 has increased pressures on parents receiving public assistance to participate in the labor force even during their children’s formative years. Under this context, understanding how mothers choose child care services for their young children has increased in importance. Prior research has found that the type of care used is not only associated with maternal labor force participation (Lemke, Witte, Queralt, & Witt, 2000), but is an important factor in children’s later cognitive outcomes (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network [NICHD ECCRN], 2002). There have been many studies that examine the reasons why mothers choose a particular type of child care verses another. However, not many studies were conducted in a post welfare reform era and may not reflect the child care situations facing working mothers under the new policy regime. In addition, many studies have only used small samples and have not used nationally representative data sets. Further, most of the studies have concentrated on examining mothers’ individual level factors’ effects on their child care arrangements. The effects of mothers’ neighborhood features, as well as state welfare policies, have not been well examined. As suggested by ecological model, contextual factors, such as neighborhood socio economic characteristics, as well as characteristics of state welfare policies, can influence maternal child care choices in important ways. The current study is intended to take some useful steps in addressing the above limitations. Using an ecological model as a theoretical framework, and the Public and Contract data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study, I investigate how selected mother’s personal characteristics (individual level factors), neighborhood socio demographic compositions, as well as state social welfare policies influence child care arrangements of employed, predominantly low-income mothers of 3-year olds. The result suggested that mothers in poor or immigrant neighborhoods were more likely to rely on relative care or family day care than center care; mothers who were in states with generous child care spending were more likely to use center care than relative care and family day care; and mothers in states with generous TANF eligibility are more likely to choose center care than family day care. Further, in states where child care lead agencies help parents locate child care, mothers are more likely to use center care than relative care, and in states where child care lead agencies limit the use of in-home care, mothers are more likely to use center care than family day care. Findings from these analyses are useful in furthering our knowledge regarding the child care arrangements of working mothers. In addition to filling gaps in current knowledge, study findings are useful in informing social policies and interventions related to child care arrangements for working families, particularly by elaborating how characteristics of neighborhoods and welfare policies may affect the child care arrangements of social economically disadvantaged working mothers. The findings thus have implications for policy makers, community organizations, as well as social work practitioners to help disadvantaged working mothers balance work and family obligations in the United States. Implications for social work practice and policy are discussed.
Issue Date:2010-08-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Meirong Liu
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-08-20
Date Deposited:2010-08

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