First Advisor

Eileen Brennen

Term of Graduation

Fall 2008

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work




Child care -- Government policy -- United States, Child care services -- Economic aspects -- United States -- States



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, v, 197 pages)


Against the backdrop of welfare reform, this study examined the generosity of state child care programs with generosity being defined as the extent to which state funding and policies promote child care availability, affordability, and health and safety for low-income families. Despite variations in Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) implementation, no internally-consistent measure has existed that permits comparisons across the range of funding and policy indicators. This study addressed that gap by constructing a composite scale comprised of 12 indicators that were identified based on existing research and expert opinion to reflect key areas of state funding and policy discretion. Indicators were developed using 2004 expenditure, policy, and service-delivery data provided by the 50 states.

The 12 indicators include: (1) five items measuring funding and availability; (2) three items measuring affordability; and (3) four items measuring health and safety. The result, the Child Care Self-Sufficiency Scale (CCSSS), provides a reliable, unified measure of state generosity (α=.755). The CCSSS measures the extent to which states promote self-sufficiency through adequate child care funding and policies. The validity of CCSSS was tested by examining the relationship between state generosity, as measured by CCSSS, state characteristics including the political and economic environment, and patterns of CCDF service delivery. The results confirm the validity of CCSSS and suggest that wealthier, more liberal states, with greater proportions of Democrats in state leadership, have more generous programs. Consistent with existing literature, larger percentages of African-Americans in state population and CCDF caseloads were associated with lower levels of generosity. CCSSS also predicted the income of families served through CCDF, suggesting that greater generosity is associated with serving families as they progress toward self-sufficiency.

The study findings raise questions about the implications of welfare reform for how we understand justice and our social responsibilities as individuals, communities, and a nation. Included are questions about conditioning basic income supports on employment, inequality of opportunities across states, and the possibility that rather than breaking the cycle of poverty, welfare reform simply moved many families from the welfare rolls to the ranks of the working poor.


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