Evaluation of the Child Care Voucher Eligibility Reassessment


Evaluation of the Child Care Voucher Eligibility Reassessment Administrative Changes in Massachusetts

A policy research partnership between:

MA Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) ● Jennifer Louis (On-site PI) Brandeis University ● Pamela Joshi (PI), Erin Hardy (Co-PI) Boston University ● Yoonsook Ha (Co-PI) Other partners: Nancy Marshall (Wellesley College); Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

About the Partnership

• • This project establishes a new research partnership between the CCDF-lead agency in Massachusetts (EEC) and a team of policy researchers from three Massachusetts universities.

The objective of the partnership is to study the effects of state-specific CCDF administrative changes that have immediate relevance to local stakeholders and to child care researchers and policymakers nationally.

Key Policy Challenges in MA Context


• • A major challenge facing CCDF is the high rate of discontinuity in subsidy receipt. CCDF’s high level of administrative burden for providers and families can contribute to subsidy instability and hamper access to subsidized care over time.


• • Past research finds that Massachusetts faces high turnover (median duration of subsidy receipt is 6 months over 2 year period) and other access issues due to high administrative burden (i.e. long waits and language barriers).

Massachusetts has implemented a series of administrative changes to make CCDF program administration more family-friendly.

Research Motivation

• • While state policymakers increasingly aim to implement family-friendly CCDF policies, they are faced with limited research regarding the efficacy of administrative reform models.

The proposed study of this new research partnership is a mixed-methods evaluation of a Massachusetts administrative change in the eligibility reassessment process.

• •

Key Definitions

Massachusetts is one of 13 states nationally that delivers child care subsidies to families through two mechanisms: Voucher: Subsidy in the form of a voucher that can be used at any child care provider that accepts vouchers.

Contracted Slot: Subsidy in the form of a contracted “slot.” Certain providers hold a contract with EEC for the provision of subsidized slots.

Therefore, providers can be: • • Voucher providers:* Child care providers that serve children receiving subsidies in the form of vouchers.

Contracted providers:** Child care providers that hold a contract with EEC and that serve children receiving subsidies in the form of contracted slots.

*A “non-contracted” provider is a provider that serves children through vouchers only. **It is important to note that a child care provider can serve both children utilizing contracted slots and children utilizing vouchers.

About the Administrative Changes

In January 2012, EEC initiated administrative changes that: o shifted the location and responsibilities for voucher reassessment from 7 regional Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) centers to contracted providers who care for income eligible families with vouchers o involved the development and implementation of a new web-based Voucher Management Application that allows contracted providers to conduct voucher reassessment electronically and mirrors the voucher reassessment application used by CCR&Rs o were based on the results of a pilot program from March 2010 to February 2011. o Coincided with CCR&R budget cuts, including decreased funds for voucher reassessment activities.

Populations Affected

• The changes only affects “voucher children” who use their vouchers at “contracted providers” (providers who accept vouchers and also have contracted slots) o Prior to the change all voucher children were required to visit the CCR&R to recertify o Since the change, voucher children who use contracted providers can recertify directly with their providers o Change affected 50% of the income eligible voucher caseload (e.g. does not affect children in families that receive TANF or participate in the child welfare system).

Overview of Administrative Changes

Available Subsidy Types: Types of Providers that can be Chosen: Non-Contracted Provider (vouchers only) Voucher Contracted Slot Contracted Provider (vouchers & slots)


Contracted Provider (vouchers & slots) Recertification Entity: CCR&R Contracted Provider Contracted Provider

*Notes: Administrative change depicted in red; Does not include DTA and DCF families


Reassessment Work Flow Before and After Administrative Changes


R&R prepares original voucher 1 year later VR begins CP: CP has voucher Calls parent .

R&R: .

R&R prepares VR list CP: on VR list .

CP contacts family Parent: Parents sign and data letter .

R&R: CP inputs date letter signed .

R&R: to CP .

R&R either approves or rejects VA. Voucher is printed then faxed NEW: CP VR for families with one CP CCRR for families with multi CPs 1 year later VR begins for all .

R&R prepares original voucher families Parent: .

Parent comes in to sign voucher process complete Single CP & CCRR Multi CP: conducts entire VR process process .

Families with only one CP & IE voucher: CP Families with multiple CPs: & DCF or DTA vouchers: CCRR handles reassessment in VR Parent: and Fee Agreement .

Parent(s) sign & date Voucher Application Single CP CCRR Multi CP: .

Enters data into system Prints new voucher for parent Parent: Parent(s) sign & date voucher .

Single CP & CCRR Multi CP: .

Attendance and billing records for all vouchers updated by CP online for all vouchers (IE, DCF, DTA) from initial placement, billing sent to CCRR for processing. CCRR pays CP for vouchers

Why are these changes important for families and providers?

Intended benefits Potential costs

• Change in location reduces travel burden • Families recertify with more familiar/known staff • Quality tradeoffs: Lose benefits of recertifying with CCR&Rs? (more versed in child care options/quality) • Increased number of “access points” should reduce wait times and speed process • Is new administrative “load” for providers too heavy, leading to hidden costs and inefficiencies?

Overview of Evaluation Design

Mixed Methods Approach: Main Study Components


Research Questions by Component

• • • IMPACT STUDY What are the impacts of the change on: 1. Continuity of voucher receipt ?

2. Stability of care arrangements ?

How does implementation variation help explain results? Spatial analysis: Is location change driving impacts?

• • • • IMPLEMENTATION STUDY What key components of the recertification process changed?

Was the change model delivered as intended?

How did families and providers experience the change (scheduling time, paperwork, staff)?


• SUBGROUP ANALYSIS Is there variation in impact by selected focal sub-groups, including Hispanic families, families living in suburban vs. urban areas, and in different CCR&R regions?

Quasi-experimental research design

Study Sample: Study & Comparison Groups Recertification Entity at Month 12 Outcomes (Measures)

Voucher Voucher

(who begin receiving subsidies in 2012) Study group: Voucher children using contracted providers Comparison: Voucher children using non-contract providers Study group: Contracted Provider Comparison: CCR&R • •

Continuity of voucher receipt

(Monthly receipt of vouchers)

Stability in child care arrangements

(Monthly measures of arrangements)

Families voluntarily select providers Note: The observation period starts 1/1/2012 (effective date of change) and culminates in a 24 month period (project year 1) and a 36 month period (project year 2)

Impact Study: Data and Methods

Data sources:

• MA CCDF administrative data (CCIMS) • Contextual data from Census, American Community Survey, etc.

Key covariates:

• Recertification months • Variables representing administrative burden (e.g., transportation costs, distance traveled for recertification)

Empirical strategies:

• Spell analysis; discrete-time event history modeling to examine the continuity of voucher use • Mediation effect modeling to examine the stability of care arrangements

Potential research questions for Year 3 & 4

• Impact on parental choice on care arrangements • Impact on the child care market (e.g., the supply of child care) • Other prioritized policy research issues

Impact Study: Spatial Analysis

Spatial analysis will be used for 3 primary purposes:

• • • Spatial descriptive work will inform impact study design and result in policy-relevant maps for EEC Geocoding of administrative data will allow us to link to contextual datasets and to create spatial measures that will inform key research questions o Spatial methods used to create key covariates, e.g. neighborhood-level transportation access, foreign-born presence o Spatial variables required to assess a key research question of whether the change in recertification location explains observed impacts Lastly, we will consider testing our impact models in a spatial regression framework to examine the role of spatial effects (e.g. clustering/regional variation) in explaining impacts

Implementation Study: Data and Methods

Multiple data sources: • Key informant interviews with the designers and implementers of the administrative changes • Site visits to purposively selected CCR&Rs • Provider interviews and recertification observation for the study group (voucher children using contract providers) and the comparison group • Parent interviews and focus groups – exposed and not exposed to administrative changes; oversample Latino families Empirical strategy: • Formulate a logic model of the administrative changes • Map work flow before and after the administration changes • • Track implementation fidelity to the new model Create qualitative database, coding and analysis of interviews

Future research (Year 4):

• In-depth analysis of Latinos and immigrant families subsidy use and barriers • Evaluation of other identified family-friendly practices

Practical Implications


• • Contributes to the evidence base about practical steps to help improve CCDF administrative processes that are associated with increased stability of subsidy receipt and continuity of care for vulnerable children.

Informs federal guidance, technical assistance and dissemination efforts to other regional/state CCDF initiatives.


• Evaluates the effectiveness of the MA administrative changes, the specific pathways of impact, and variation in pathways of the impacts. • Identifies differential impacts for subgroups to inform tailoring of the administrative changes for diverse service populations.

• Provider, parent and policy interviews will provide feedback on changes, identify any hidden costs and benefits, help explain and interpret impact results and give suggestions for future improvements.

Thank you / Request We value your feedback and would like to interview a subset of Board members for key informant interviews.


Please contact: Pam Joshi ([email protected]) Kate Giapponi ([email protected])