Specifically, the researchers looked at 27,628 single-parent families, led mostly by women, who had at least one child in the childcare subsidy program. The study points out that regardless of location, subsidy users had similar characteristics regardless of a rural/urban divide: most were single-parent families, mostly white, with fairly low levels of education, and unstable employment.
Grobe said that one of the reasons for a difference between childcare subsidy and food stamp usage could be eligibility requirements. Childcare subsidy eligibility is tied to employment women have to work at least 20 hours a week to be eligible, whereas food stamps do not have a work requirement. Many low-wage workers have unstable job situations in service-oriented industries such as fast food or retail. Hours they work fluctuate, and there are stretches of time they may not be able to find work, so eligibility would be difficult to maintain.
"In 2007, the Oregon Legislature fixed many of these issues, and in 2009 the state aligned the childcare subsidy more to food stamp requirements," Grobe said.
Another factor in lower usage of government subsidies could be attributed to better social networks. Weber said previous research points to a greater level of family and overall social networks in rural areas, as well as a stigma in some rural communities on use of government programs.
Researchers also found that families in rural Oregon counties used home-based childcare much more than metro or micropolitan areas, and Weber said these smaller home daycare facilities might offer more transitional care than childcare centers.
However, Weber said the continued high levels of unemployment and poverty rates in Oregon, especially in rural areas, should force policymakers to take another look at access issues. All three types of county areas differed on the types o
|Contact: Bobbie Weber|
Oregon State University