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Making Child Care Choices: How Welfare and Work Policies Influence Parents' Decisions

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This policy brief summarizes new findings on the child care decisions of about 20,000 low-income parents who took part in nine random assignment evaluations conducted by MDRC. Some of the 21 welfare and employment programs investigated in the evaluations expanded the child care assistance available to parents, while the others provided standard assistance, that is, whatever help was generally available. By permitting comparisons between the effects of the two types of programs, these studies afford rare evidence on how different child care policies affect parents’ use of subsidies, decisions about care arrangements, and problems with child care. The brief also presents highlights from in-depth interviews with 38 low-income families.