Child Care:

Recipients Face Service Gaps and Supply Shortages

T-HEHS-95-96: Published: Mar 1, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the current child care subsidy system, focusing on the: (1) possible impacts of welfare reform; and (2) difficulties parents face securing child care. GAO noted that: (1) the fragmented nature of the current child care system produces gaps in services that limit low-income families' ability to achieve self-sufficiency; (2) the current system does not provide adequate infant care, part-time care, care for children with disabling conditions, or before- and after-school care; (3) affordable child care has a dramatic effect on the employment of low-income mothers and many mothers quit working because they often must pay for all or part of their child care expenses; (4) states are required to provide a broad range of services to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients participating in education, training, and employment-related activities, but they are not required to provide these services to working families outside the AFDC system; (5) different program requirements and resource constraints affect the delivery of child care subsidies to low-income families; (6) the Department of Health and Human Services does not provide child care subsidies during a break in employment; (7) many participants are not aware that they are eligible for continuing child care subsidies; (8) subsidy eligibility decisions depend on the availability of funds and program funding rules; and (9) reform proposals that require additional welfare mothers to participate in school or work should consider the capacity of the child care system to absord the new demand for child care.

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