Journal Issue: Welfare to Work Volume 7 Number 1 Spring 1997
During the past 20 years, welfare policy has increased the work obligations imposed upon mothers of young children as a condition for receiving income assistance. To support these work activities, the federal government has made a substantial commitment to provide child care subsidies to those leaving welfare through employment and to low-income working families. However, because the need for good-quality, affordable child care is far greater than current funding can accommodate, policymakers face difficult choices about how funds should be allocated. The debate about child care support thus focuses on concerns about the availability, cost, and quality of child care arrangements needed to enable poor parents to work and also on concerns about how government child care resources should be distributed.1
This article discusses the special child care needs of low-income families and the challenges they face in arranging child care for their children. It reviews evidence that child care problems are a barrier to employment, and it describes opportunities for policymakers to design child care assistance programs to support employment of poor mothers and to invest in the development of child care services appropriate to the needs of those families.