Child care is a critical family need, allowing parents to work while keeping children
safe and supporting their healthy development. But quality child care is expensive
and difficult to find, particularly for low-income parents, who face additional
challenges affording and finding care while they work.
Child care subsidies from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) can help
low-income families with children younger than age 13 (or older children with
special needs) pay for child care, yet the current child care system offers subsidies
to only a fraction of eligible families. What if the system were funded so all Arizona
families with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines (FPG)
who meet the other eligibility criteria and want a subsidy receive one?
Using the Urban Institute’s Analysis of Transfers, Taxes, and Income Security
(ATTIS) microsimulation tool, we estimate that in Arizona,
an additional 20,600 families with incomes below 150 percent of FPG who
already meet the other eligibility rules (e.g., are working or engaged in another
activity that qualifies for CCDF help) could receive a subsidy in an average
approximately 8,100 additional mothers would be able to join the workforce
because they would get a subsidy;
about 51,700 additional children could receive a subsidy in an average month,
including those whose parents are already in eligible activities and those whose
parents would join the workforce; and
these changes would raise incomes for many affected families and lift 7,900
children out of poverty, primarily because of the estimated increase in parental
What does this mean for children and families? Research shows that giving parents
subsidies can allow them to choose higher-quality child care, which can help
children’s healthy growth and development. Subsidies also help parents remain in
the workforce, thus boosting their lifetime earnings and improving their long-term
financial health. Higher family incomes and reduced time in poverty are both
associated with better long-term outcomes for children.
Spotlight on Infants and Toddlers in Arizona
Parents of infants and toddlers (children younger than age 3) face unique challenges
in finding and affording quality child care. Care for younger children is more
expensive and harder to find than care for school-age children. Child care barriers
can be particularly difficult to surmount for low-income parents with young
children, making it harder for these parents to work.
Quality child care is especially important for infants and toddlers, whose brains and
bodies are developing with astonishing speed. Adverse circumstances or
inadequate care can jeopardize this critical period of growth and development.
Subsidies from the CCDF can help low-income families with infants and toddlers,
yet the current child care system offers subsidies to only a fraction of eligible
But what if the system were funded so all Arizona families with infants and toddlers
and incomes below 150 percent of FPG who meet the other eligibility criteria and
want a subsidy receive one?
Using the ATTIS microsimulation tool, we estimate that in Arizona,
◼ an additional 14,000 families with children under age 3 and with incomes below
150 percent of FPG who meet the state’s other eligibility rules (for example, are
working or engaged in other activities that qualify for CCDF help) could receive
a subsidy in an average month;
◼ nearly 3,500 additional mothers would be able to join the workforce, knowing a
subsidy would be available;
◼ about 15,100 additional infants and toddlers could receive a subsidy in an
average month, including those whose parents are already in eligible activities
and those whose parents would join the workforce; and
◼ the changes would raise family incomes and lift 800 additional infants and
toddlers out of poverty, primarily because of the estimated increase in parental
This fact sheet summarizes findings from “What If We Expanded Child Care
Subsidies? A National and State Perspective” by Linda Giannarelli, Gina Adams,
Sarah Minton, and Kelly Dwyer (https://urbn.is/2HxHVqc). The brief describes the
methodology in more detail and includes citations for the supporting research.
Fact sheet notes: The analysis uses the ATTIS model together with the 2016 American Community
Survey public-use data. Under 2019 annual poverty guidelines, 150 percent of FPG for a family of three
is $31,995 in Arizona. Poverty changes are assessed by subtracting out-of-pocket child care expenses
from family cash income and comparing with the applicable official poverty threshold. Estimates are
rounded to the nearest 100.