Childcare Subsidy Employment and Copayment Requirements and Child Maltreatment

Child Maltreat. 2023 Nov 21:10775595231218174. doi: 10.1177/10775595231218174. Online ahead of print.


Economic support programs for low-income families may play an important role in preventing child abuse and neglect. In the United States, childcare subsidies are provided to low-income families who meet certain requirements to offset the high cost of childcare. States have flexibility in setting many policies related to the provision of childcare subsidies, which results in a great deal of variation in how the programs operate between states. One policy dimension on which states vary is the number of employment hours required to receive childcare subsidies. A small body of work has begun to investigate the ways in which these state policy variations might relate to child maltreatment. Using 11 years of administrative data from the United States, the current study sought to estimate the relationship between two sources of variation in childcare subsidy policies: employment requirements and copayment size; and child neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse substantiations. The study found a nuanced relationship between required employment and neglect substantiations. Specifically, requiring some level of work was not associated with neglect substantiations, but requiring 30 hours of employment was associated with higher rates. The study did not find a relationship between copayment size and maltreatment substantiations.

Keywords: child maltreatment; childcare subsidy; social welfare policies; work requirements.