Child Care: Additional Information Is Needed on Working Families Receiving Subsidies

GAO-05-667 Published: Jun 29, 2005. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 2005.
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Since the Congress enacted welfare reform legislation in 1996, child care assistance has served as a key support for work efforts among low-income families. Researchers have found that reliable, high-quality child care is critical to sustaining parents' ability to work, while safeguarding their children's health and intellectual development. States have flexibility in determining which low-income families are provided child care subsidies funded by the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and related state resources. States must balance the funds available for subsidies with the number of families who want subsidized child care. In doing so, states may find it necessary to change child care policies that affect program access or the amount of subsidy that eligible families receive. As Congress considers reauthorizing CCDF and TANF, we updated our previous report "Child Care: Recent State Policy Changes Affecting the Availability of Assistance for Low-Income Families" by providing current information on (1) the choices states have made for providing child care assistance to (a) TANF families, (b) families transitioning off TANF, and (c) other lowincome families; (2) the extent to which states have changed policies since 2001 that could affect access to child care assistance programs and the amounts of subsidies provided to families; and (3) the number of children and families receiving child care assistance from CCDF and TANF funds.

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