Project Details


This dissertation explores how structural factors limit the 1) child care options available to and 2) child care subsidy use of low-income families. I argue that policies and practices - in the fields of welfare, early care and education, transportation, and labor - have converged in ways that restrict the resources available to low-income families. This has taken place during a period of socio-demographic change that has altered the geography of poverty in this country. My goal is to detail how this convergence of policy, practice, and demography has affected families' child care options and decisions and to offer up policy solutions that improve the lot of low-income families. I plan to investigate the effects of resource limitation on child care availability, choice, stability, and complexity, as well as child care subsidy use. In other words, I focus on the balancing acts that families must maintain to access child care in the context of limited support and unpredictable work schedules. This focus on child care is a function of an exciting new data source - the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) - as well as a belief that securing child care represents a crucial challenge to the functioning and economic self-sufficiency of low-income families. I am particularly interested in how the declining availability of resources affects the use of developmentally beneficial types of child care. The dissertation will consist of three empirical papers. The first paper will shed light on nonstandard and flexible employment and the ways in which such practices shape and limit investment in children and affect child care choices. The second paper singles out one important resource - car ownership - to highlight how welfare and transportation policies have foreclosed child care options and subsidy use for low-income Americans. The third paper will address the geography of child care by seeking to understand how child care accessibility varies across urban and suburban areas and remains out of step with socio-demographic changes. All three of these papers will take as their primary focus low-income families with children age five and younger, but will also include analyses of other socio-economic groups. Each of these investigations will yield a full academic paper as well as a research brief aimed at an audience of policy makers and CCDF administrators.
Effective start/end date9/29/169/28/18


  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Medicine(all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)