Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 383–395 | Cite as

Child Care Subsidy Use and Child Care Quality in Low-Wealth, Rural Communities

  • Allison De MarcoEmail author
  • Lynne Vernon-Feagans
  • Family Life Project Key Investigators
Original Paper


Child care subsidy programs serve to reduce the number of families for whom child care is a barrier to work. Child care is essential to economic self-sufficiency, and it can also support child development, particularly for low-income children. However, most research has an urban focus so little is known about rural settings where formal programs are limited and of lower quality. In this paper we examine the subsidy use of rural families, the care arrangements they make, and the quality of care received. We utilized data collected between 2004 and 2007 from the Family Life Project, a representative, longitudinal study of non-metro families in low-wealth counties (n = 1,292), oversampled for low-income and African-American families. Families who used subsidies were more likely to select center-based care, typically of higher quality. Further, these families were also more likely to receive higher quality care, regardless of the type chosen, even after accounting for a host of family and community factors. Findings suggest that subsidy programs have successfully moved low-income children into higher quality care beneficial for development. These findings point to the need to maintain subsidy programs and encourage eligible families to take advantage of such resources.


Child care Child care subsidy Child care quality Rural families 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison De Marco
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lynne Vernon-Feagans
    • 2
  • Family Life Project Key Investigators
  1. 1.Frank Porter Graham Child Development InstituteUniversity of North Carolina – Chapel HillCarrboroUSA
  2. 2.School of Education Science and Special EducationUniversity of North Carolina – Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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