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Adequate child care is essential to enable poor women to support their families with work outside the home. In 1994 the U.S. General Accounting Office found that offering a child care subsidy to poor mothers increased the likelihood by 15 percent that the mothers would work. An Illinois study found that 20 percent of parents who left public assistance for work returned to assistance because of child care problems. In Minnesota a study found that lack of child care caused 14 percent of parents awaiting child care subsidies to leave their jobs and rely on public assistance. These studies confirm what advocates know: Poor parents, like other parents, cannot work without child care.

The goal of this article is to assist advocates in helping their clients access quality child care and assuring that they do not lose needed public assistance when child care is unavailable.

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32 Clearinghouse Rev. 373 (1999).