Using Policy-Relevant Administrative Data in Mixed Methods: A Study of Employment Instability and Parents’ Use of Child Care Subsidies

Deana Grobe, Elizabeth E. Davis, Ellen K. Scott, Roberta B. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In the United States, government subsidies help low-income families pay for child care when parents are working, yet policies that tie subsidy eligibility closely to employment may result in frequent disruptions in program participation for families. This paper uses a mixed methods research design that links administrative records on families and children to data collected through surveys and in-depth interviews to examine employment instability and job characteristics of parents using child care subsidies. The results suggest that parents experience substantial employment instability (employment loss and unpredictable schedules) and that exiting the subsidy program is frequently related to employment-related eligibility factors. Overall, the use of administrative data integrated with other methods provides substantial opportunities for researchers to explore complex social phenomenon and provide insights in the evaluation of social programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-162
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Family and Economic Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially funded through grant number 90YE0119 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services. Funding also came from the Office of Child Care in the Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education (formerly the Child Care Division of the Oregon Employment Department). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official views of the funding agencies nor does publication in any way constitute an endorsement by the funding agencies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Administrative data
  • Child care subsidies
  • Employment instability
  • Mixed methods


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