Building Better Programs

Low-Income Families & the Cost of Child Care: State Child Care Subsidies, Out-of-Pocket Expenses & the Cliff Effect

This report, authored by the Urban Institute, focuses on child care assistance and the effect of no longer being eligible for that assistance on families.

AUTHOR ABSTRACT: Child care subsidies provide assistance for low-income families, often to support work activities. Depending on the state of residence, families’ out-of-pocket expenses can vary widely, both while receiving the subsidy and at the point when families no longer qualify for assistance. In this paper, we look at how state policies affect families’ child care expenses, focusing on the point when families no longer qualify for assistance. We find that when families’ incomes increase just enough to make them ineligible for child care assistance, the potential increase in out-of-pocket child care expenses can be much greater than the increase in income.

Link to report page at Urban Institute
Link to report: Low-income families and the cost of child care: State child care subsidies, out-of-pocket expenses, and the cliff effect