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How do early care and education workforce and classroom characteristics differ between subsidized centers and available center-based alternatives for low-income children?

Anna D. Johnson, Anne Martin and Owen N. Schochet

Children and Youth Services Review, 2019, vol. 107, issue C

Abstract: Although the federal child care subsidy program is the nation’s largest public investment in the early care and education (ECE) of low-income children, few studies have attempted to identify the ECE workforce and classroom features that characterize subsidized center-based settings and differentiate them from other alternatives. To address this gap in the literature, the current study uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to describe subsidized center-based classrooms on an expansive range of workforce and classroom variables. Notably, we compare these classrooms to classrooms in the other center-based settings that primarily serve low-income children – both those that receive public funds from other sources (Head Start or school-based pre-k) and those that do not (non-publicly funded center-based settings). In the vast majority of comparisons, differences between subsidized settings and others were not statistically significant. However, when differences were detected they were in the direction consistent with prior literature: subsidized settings are lower in quality than Head Start or public pre-k settings – for instance, offering fewer activities and materials – but higher in quality than non-publicly funded settings – for example, offering more referrals to ancillary services and screenings. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Keywords: Child care; Subsidies; Head Start; Pre-k; ECE; Low-income (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104567

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