Child Care:

Working Poor and Welfare Recipients Face Service Gaps

HEHS-94-87: Published: May 13, 1994. Publicly Released: May 13, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed states' implementation of the Child Care Development Block Grant, focusing on: (1) how states are integrating the child care block grant program with the three other federal child care programs for low-income families; and (2) gaps in the delivery of child care services to low-income families that could impede their achieving economic self-sufficiency through employment.

GAO found that: (1) states are making progress toward integrating the child care programs, however, different federal program requirements, coupled with resource constraints, produce gaps in the delivery of child care subsidies to the low-income population; (2) program requirements differ in specifying the categories of clients who can be served, the employment activities clients are permitted to pursue while remaining eligible for child care benefits, the eligibility income ceiling, and the length of time clients can receive child care subsidies; (3) when there are limited funds available, eligible nonwelfare, working poor families may not receive child care subsidies, placing them at greater risk of becoming dependent on welfare; (4) the current child care system provides little incentive for states to serve the working poor; and (5) state officials believe they would be better able to provide child care services that support self-sufficiency efforts if there were greater consistency across programs and if they had more flexibility in how they spend their federal child care funds.

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