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About the Series
Assessing the New Federalism is a multiyear Urban Institute project designed to analyze the devolution of responsibility for social programs from the federal government to the states, focusing primarily on health care, income security, employment and training programs, and social services. Researchers monitor program changes and fiscal developments. In collaboration with Child Trends, the project studies changes in family well-being. The project aims to provide timely, nonpartisan information to inform public debate and to help state and local decisionmakers carry out their new responsibilities more effectively.
Key components of the project include a household survey, studies of policies in 13 states, and a database with information on all states and the District of Columbia, available at the Urban Institute's Web site (http://www.urban.org). This paper is one in a series of occasional papers analyzing information from these and other sources.
Data and Methods
Child Care Arrangements and Expenses Defined
Understanding the Data
Summer Child Care Arrangements of School-Age Children with an Employed Primary Caretaker
Children of Different Ages
Children from Families with Different Incomes
The Costs of Child Care for Children during the Summer
Child Care Arrangements
Child Care Expenses
Appendix 1: Child Care Patterns of School-Age Children with Nonemployed Primary Caretakers
Appendix 2: Child Care Patterns of Preschool Children with Employed Primary Caretakers
Appendix 3: Tables
About the Authors
Every year, millions of American families undertake the task of arranging child care for their school-age children. During the school year, this task primarily involves finding one or more regular child care arrangements to supplement the hours that children spend in school. For most families, these arrangements bridge a gap in care that occurs when parents work longer hours than their children are in school or work outside their children's school schedule. To fill this gap, parents often choose supervised arrangementssuch as before- and/or after-school programs, family child care homes, nannies, baby-sitters, or relativesbut they may also choose to leave children to care for themselves (Capizzano, Tout, and Adams 2000).
While it is clear that the task of arranging child care changes substantially during the summer, little research has been done to examine child care patterns during this part of the year. For example, little is known about how the end of the school year affects the types of child care families use, the number of hours children are in care, or the amount families spend on child care. In addition, little is known about the extent to which families with school-age children use programs available only during the summerorganized summer programs, recreational programs, and day camps or the extent to which school-age children are regularly without adult supervision during the summer months.
Understanding these summer child care patterns is critical, because the types of care used during the summer and the costs of child care can affect the well-being of children and families. The child care arrangements parents use during the summer can keep their children safe and support their social and academic well-being, or they can put children at risk of physical or emotional harm.1 From the parents' perspective, the need for additional child care caused by the end of the school year can create stress in trying to find new child care arrangements and can potentially affect employment patterns and how much families spend on care. Therefore, it is important for policymakers and researchers concerned about family employment patterns and child development to gain a better understanding of summer child care patterns.
This paper provides one of the first systematic examinations of child care patterns among 6- to 12-year-old children during the summer months (see also Hofferth et al. 1991). Using the 1999 National Survey of America's Families, the paper analyzes two key aspects of summer child care: the types of arrangements used for school-age children while their primary caretaker is working and the amount families with school-age children spend on child care. Where possible, we look at these aspects of child care separately for children of different ages and for children from families with different incomes.
1. For example, some research indicates that children can either fall behind or make gains academically during the summer, which may depend on their summer activities (see, e.g., Entwisle and Alexander 1992).
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