Journal Issue: Welfare to Work Volume 7 Number 1 Spring 1997
More than half of the children in families supported by welfare are under age six, and another third are in grade school. The mothers of these children cannot leave welfare for employment unless they can find and pay for child care. Yet, as this article points out, the child care needs of these families are not easily met: Many require care for infants and toddlers, care at odd hours, and care in poor neighborhoods—all of which are scarce. Evidence reviewed by the authors indicates that problems with child care affordability, availability, and quality impede mothers from participating in the labor force and in job training programs. Recent public funding for child care subsidies has helped families leaving welfare to afford the child care they need, although the demand for financial assistance outstrips available funding. This article urges that policymakers work to facilitate access to subsidies, increase the supply of care that can meet the needs of poor working families, and guard against exposure to poor-quality care that can jeopardize both children's well-being and parents' employment.