Child Care:

States' Efforts to Expand Programs Under Welfare Reform

T-HEHS-98-148: Published: Apr 22, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1998.

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GAO discussed how child care programs are changing at the state level through the revisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, focusing on: (1) how much federal and state funds states are spending on child care subsidy programs and how they are allocating these resources; (2) how states are trying to increase the supply of child care to meet the projected demand under welfare reform; and (3) the extent to which states are changing standards for child care providers in response to the anticipated increased demand under welfare reform.

GAO noted that: (1) its findings provide an early indication that the seven states it reviewed are using additional federal dollars and their own funds to expand their child care programs to serve increasing numbers of welfare recipients required to work and at least some of the working poor; (2) in addition, states are making efforts to further increase the supply of child care by funding initiatives to support and encourage the entrance of new child care providers into the market; (3) at the same time, the states that are expanding their programs and attempting to increase supply appear to be maintaining child care standards and enforcement practices; and (4) however, it is too early to know how effective these efforts will be in meeting the child care needs of low-income families.

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