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Child Care for Low-Income Families: Summary of Two Workshops
lies. A companion report summarizes the discussion of research priorities for the future (the focus of the third workshop).
The workshops were designed to provide a forum for cross-fertilization of ideas among researchers studying child care from differing disciplinary vantage points and to integrate knowledge about child care that is being generated by empirical research, national and regional demonstration projects, and community intervention efforts. The workshop participants included researchers from a range of disciplines (e.g., child development, sociology, economics, political science), federal agency heads and staff, congressional staff, state and local child care administrators, and representatives from the private sector.
The participants were keenly aware of the contentiousness that surrounds discussions of child care. They were also cognizant of the numerous pressures that are now impinging on the existing child care system —for greater efficiency and consolidation, more state and local discretion, and accountability for outcomes. Their own perspectives about how best to respond to these pressures varied widely. They shared, however, a concern about the adequacy of available child care for low-income children and a belief in the value of research as a guide for future policy developments in this area.
Over the course of the first two workshops, the discussion converged on several issues, which provide the structure of the report:
Factors affecting patterns of child care use among low-income families (Chapter 2);
Child care and children's development: safety, quality, and continuity (Chapter 3);
Child care and economic self-sufficiency (Chapter 4); and
The structure and consequences of child care subsidies (Chapter 5).
The final chapter provides a summary of the cross-cutting conclusions from the workshops. The information in this report captures many of the prevailing issues and tensions that are driving efforts to reconsider the basic structure of public support for child care. Many insights and impressions were offered by the workshop participants, the richness of which this report attempts to capture. The Board on Children and Families hopes that it will be a stimulus to more thorough and ongoing consideration by other groups of how best to meet the needs of children when their parents are working or preparing for work.