Child-Care Use Among Welfare Mothers: A Dynamic Analysis

Douglas A. Wolf, Freya L. Sonenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The current welfare policy environment places considerable emphasis on employment as a means for reducing welfare dependency. Policy provisions that subsidize child-care use are aimed at encouraging work, exit from welfare, and sustained independence from public support. Yet there has been very little research on the child-care usage patterns of welfare mothers, particularly with respect to factors associated with the persistence of such patterns. This study analyzes the durability of child-care arrangements, using data from a 1983-1984 longitudinal survey of welfare mothers conducted in three cities. The specific questions addressed included the following: What are the correlates of durability of a child-care arrangement, especially those related to type and cost of care; and, how are a mother's subjective ratings of child-care quality related to the probability of ending or changing her current arrangement? The findings indicate that family day-care arrangements are the least durable; however, care in a center is not more durable than care provided by a child's relatives. Among several dimensions along which mothers rated their child-care arrangements, only convenience — with respect to location and timing — emerged as a significant correlate of durability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-536
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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