The purpose of this research and study is to analyze the qualitative and quantitive dynamics of child care choice in the United States, the State of California and the State of Texas. The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is an information-rich, national study that collects panel data on a sample of working individuals. The SIPP is conducted on an annual basis and along with a core survey, conducts corollary surveys of topical issues termed, "topical modules." One focus will be on the analysis of data collected by the SIPP via the child care topical module. Another focus will be on the presentation of policy alternatives that will account for a segment of the sample that has proven to be of particular research interest; parents who rely on family-based child care for the youngest of their children.
The Framework of this research consists, in part, of a review of the literature in the area of child care. The literature review is organized thematically and geographically. National studies are reviewed, followed by studies and literature that speak to states' unique issues relating to child care. Likewise, the framework includes describing the sample selected from the SIPP data set that makes decisions on the care of their youngest child. Respondents on the national level, as well as respondents from the States of California and Texas were identified and duly analyzed. The three case studies, if you will, are offered in order to present both a general view, as well as a smaller-scaled view of this sample of parents and their youngest children. The sub-samples from Texas and California were selected because these states are often scrutinized for their social service programs and policies. Moreover, the size and the demographic composition of their respective populations places them at the forefront of the larger debate surrounding social service provision in the United State. These states are similar in that they both have a large and growing Latino and immigrant demographic but distinguish themselves in that they both have a very different approach to social service provision which is driven by administration of contrasting political ideologies.
This study seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What are the determinants of child care choice for parents/guardians in the states of California, Texas and the nation-at-large? And (2), how can the statistical findings be operationalized into viable policy and/or be reconciled with existing, underutilized alternatives? Such questions will be addressed in a general sense with the analysis of the national sample, then approached individually in the analysis of the State of California and Texas.
It was important for me to provide a comparative view of the determinants of child care choice. These particular data show that there does exist a clear divergence in contexts; what seems to be influential in decisionmaking among parents with children six years of age and under, in the national sample is not necessarily replicated in the state samples. Furthermore, intra-state differences tell an interesting story; these case studies underscore some theories and undermine others.