The Problem & Our Approach
According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), out of the 12.5 million federally eligible children, only 2 million currently receive child care subsidies. This alarming statistic underscores the urgent need to understand the factors driving this gap and what comprehensive improvements to the subsidy journey could bridge it.
This project joins existent work led by our peers at U.S. Digital Response, Code for America, and New America’s New Practice Lab who have conducted user research on family experience; stood up an open-source model subsidy application in partnership with the Office of Child Care; and published a brief on early care and education systems respectively.
Specifically, the Beeck Center and CCAoA are examining three interrelated dimensions of child care subsidy systems across multiple states—child care provider and family experience; organizational policies and processes; and technology.
Provider & Family Experience
As an essential, but under-researched group, child care providers have multifaceted experiences interacting with various entities—such as state agencies, CCR&Rs, and families—making their perspectives vital for a comprehensive understanding of the child care landscape. Our team seeks to explore provider experience to better understand the factors that inform the number of providers accepting subsidy, in addition to family experience navigating subsidy onboarding, to surface the systemic barriers to affordable, quality child care services.
Georgetown University's Beeck Center and CCAoA are committed to placing CCR&Rs at the forefront of change and empowering them as leaders in improving the child care subsidy journey. Through thorough research and analysis, the project aims to equip CCR&Rs with valuable insights and possible solutions to drive human-centered, user experience-informed design changes. While the project acknowledges the need to understand the subsidy journey holistically, it will primarily focus on identifying solutions within the CCR&Rs' sphere of influence. By doing so, the collaboration aims to leverage the expertise and power of CCR&Rs to effect meaningful and practical improvements in the child care subsidy system.
Beyond Technology Solutions
While this project originally sought to provide technology solutions, initial conversations with CCR&Rs have illustrated the design and policy challenges underlying user-facing systems. Consequently, we have suspended our original assumption that technology can improve user experience in favor of a discovery-oriented, iterative project design that allows for multiple solutions that consider the complex governance, policy, and technical nuances each state faces. This approach prioritizes pathways of influence where CCR&Rs can drive long-term changes in their work.
As this project progresses, we will convene a virtual “Show & Ask” event—our take on a show and tell—during which we will summarize learnings from our research and draw on the expertise in the room to explore relevant themes and questions. You can sign up to receive communication about our Show and Ask as well as future information and publications related to this work here.