by John Pawasarat and Lois M. Quinn, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute, May 1998
One of the critical concerns facing parents seeking employment is provision of adequate care for their children while they are at work. Employment and Training Institute surveys of central city Milwaukee female job seekers identified lack of child care as a primary barrier to employment, and a recent assessment of AFDC mothers with very young children found that most needed help finding and financing child care. It was expected that the influx of state and federal funds for child care support could increase the numbers of children receiving consistent, quality child care and that a number of central city residents might find family-supporting jobs offering child care to other families.
This study examined the utilization of child care subsidies by low-income parents in Milwaukee County over a 21-month period from January 1996 through September 1997, analyzed payments to 2,826 providers of care and 31,863 child care placements, and reviewed AFDC, food stamp and medical assistance records in December 1995, September 1996 and June 1997 in order to assess use and type of child care subsidized in the county. It also explored the experience of adults offering provisional, certified and licensed child care to gauge income received for this work.
Previous employment and training initiatives for the AFDC population have excluded mothers with young children because of the high cost of child care and low success rates of the population in finding employment. Most programs focused instead on those parents most likely to succeed in the labor force, that is, parents who had fewer children and older children, and were better educated. The use of child care in Milwaukee County in 1996 and 1997 reflected these concerns -- showing high costs for care for young children and large families and more consistent child care rates for single parents with more years of schooling, fewer children and older children.
Barriers to Utilization
The study found substantial underutilization of child care support compared to the numbers of employed families eligible and projected to need assistance. State policies created under Wisconsin's new welfare initiatives may have contributed to much of the underutilization of child care support by employed parents in Milwaukee County.
While the Milwaukee County AFDC caseload declined as expected in 1996 and 1997, receipt of Wisconsin child care subsidies for low-income families did not rise at a comparable rate. For those cases on AFDC, food stamps or medical assistance in December 1995 or eligible as a low- income family, use of child care subsidies was much less than predicted.
|MILWAUKEE COUNTY FAMILIES EXPECTED TO USE CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES||ACTUAL USAGE|
|25,125 single parent families on AFDC in December 1995||1 out of 15|
|5,629 single parent families receiving food stamps or medical assistance only in December 1995||1 out of 9|
|22,000 Milwaukee County low-income "working poor" families not on public assistance||1 out of 30|
Factors in Use of Subsidies--Age of Children, "Knowing the System," Education Level
Expenditures for Milwaukee County Child Care Subsidies
Expenditures were examined for the 21-month period from January 1996 through September 1997 to assess the type of care provided, consistency of care, and public assistance outcomes of families receiving child care assistance.
Child Care As a Job
It was anticipated that the many projected child caring opportunities would create jobs for mothers in the AFDC/food stamp population. Milwaukee County contracted with 2,561 individuals to provide care for 12,020 children during the period January 1, 1996 - October 1, 1997.
|TYPE OF CHILD CARE PROVIDER||PROVIDERS EARNING OVER $12,000 IN 1996 COUNTY PAYMENTS|
|1,183 provisional providers||1 out of 100|
|802 certified providers||1 out of 5|
|136 licensed family providers||1 out of 3|
Licensed Group Care Highly Concentrated
Availability of Care
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