Child Care and Children with Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families, 2002-2005 (ICPSR 27001)

Published: Dec 16, 2010

Principal Investigator(s):
Helen Ward, University of Southern Maine. Muskie School of Public Service; Lisa Morris, University of Southern Maine. Muskie School of Public Service

Version V1

This project was a mixed-method, multi-level study of low income families of children with special needs and the system which served them, focusing primarily on child care, employment, and balancing work and family. This approach included an analysis of existing national and state-level data sets, statewide surveys of parents and child care providers, and a field study to look at these issues at the local level in three selected communities in the state of Maine: Portland, Lewiston/Auburn, and Presque Isle. While the primary focus was on access to child care, this project also looked at the related issues of welfare reform, the impact of work force participation on having a child with special needs, and the issue of coordination of early intervention services with the child care system. The goal was to understand better the issues facing low income families with special needs children across the programs and policies affecting their employment, access to child care, and meeting the special needs of their children. In the first year of the study, qualitative research was conducted to learn directly from parents about their experiences. In the second and third years, a field study of three communities was conducted as well as statewide surveys and analysis of national data bases to supplement the data collected in the first year. This data collection is comprised of the two quantitative data files produced during the second and third years of the study which are described in more detail below.

Child Care Provider Survey: The Child Care Provider Survey was a statewide survey of child care providers selected at random from the list of licensed providers in Maine given by the state licensing agency. Questions focused on the perspective of child care providers on the issues of access and inclusion that parents raised.

Parent Survey: The Parent Survey was a statewide survey of parents and children aged 0-18 years with diagnosed special needs (enrolled in Maine Care - Katie Beckett and Title V eligibility groups - and Child Development Services early intervention caseloads). Questions focused on child care utilization and work experiences in relation to children with special needs.

Researchers interested in information about the qualitative data should contact the Child Care and Children with Special Needs Project Web site.

Ward, Helen, and Morris, Lisa. Child Care and Children with Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families, 2002-2005. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-12-16.

Export Citation:

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Child Care Bureau (90YE0036)


Parent Survey: Users are reminded that these data are to be used solely for statistical reporting and analysis, and not for the investigation of specific individuals. To protect respondent privacy, the public-use and restricted-use versions of the data differ in the amount of personal detail provided. The following string variables were removed: exact special needs diagnosis (q7, q8, q9, and diagr), other school or program text (q15g), child care arrangement text (q21, q26, q30), problems with care text (q41), special services text (q44f), total income (q46), and employment text (q51, q52, q56, q62, q66).

Access to those parts of this study requires a signed User Agreement. To obtain the file(s), researchers must agree to the terms and conditions of the Restricted Data Use Agreement, found via ICPSR's online Restricted Data Contracting System, by clicking the "apply online for access to the data" link above.

2002 -- 2005

2002 -- 2005

More information about this study including information about the parent interviews, field study, and analysis of data from National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) can be found on the Child Care and Children with Special Needs Project website.

Child Care Provider Survey: A random sample of 430 providers from the list of licensed providers in Maine given by the Division of Licensing, Child Care Licensing Unit at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services were mailed a self-administered survey.

Parent Survey: Entire caseload of parents of children with special needs -- 6200 parents (approximately 4000 on the Child Development Services (CDS) list and 2200 on the Maine Care list) were mailed a packet explaining the study and asking them to call for an interview. The Sample does not include children with undiagnosed health conditions or disabilities, or disabilities/conditions too mild to qualify for Maine Care or CDS.

Child Care Provider Survey: A random sample of 430 child care providers in Maine drawn from state agency lists of licensed providers.

Parent Survey: Entire caseload of parents of children with special needs on the Child Development Services list and on the Maine Care list.


survey data

Child Care Provider Survey: 41.6 percent

Parent Survey: 7 percent



2010-12-16 The Restricted Data Use Agreement has been updated.

2010-06-14 A few string variables have responses over 244 characters in the Child Care Provider Survey Data (DS1) and the Parent Survey Restricted Data (DS3). Due to Stata limitations, these responses have been summarized in order to produce Stata files. The full responses can be found in the codebook.

2010-06-11 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.