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

Version Date: Aug 6, 2018 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Helen Ward, Edmund S. Muskie Institute of Public Affairs; Lisa A. Morris, Edmund S. Muskie Institute of Public Affairs

Version V2 ()

  • V2 [2018-08-06]
  • V1 [2010-12-16] unpublished

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 A. Child Care and Children with Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families, Maine, United States, 2002-2005. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2018-08-06.

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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 from the public-use dataset: 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.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
2002 -- 2005
2002 -- 2005
  1. More information about this study including information about the parent interviews, field study, and analysis of data from the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) can be found on the Child Care and Children with Special Needs Project website.
  2. Qualitative data collected for this study are not available as part of the data collection at this time.

  3. The variable Q15G was suppressed in the public-use version codebook file for DS 3, Parent Survey Restricted-Use Data, to protect respondent confidentiality and prevent disclosure risk.

The mixed-methods study methodology included:

  • Focus groups and individual in-depth interviews with low income (below 225 percent of the federal poverty level) parents with at least one child age six or under with special needs. These were conducted in three communities in Maine (Bath/Brunswick, Lewiston/Auburn and Presque Isle) and in Connecticut (Waterbury, Manchester and Norwich). The researchers also interviewed with parents in Portland (N=41).
  • A field study consisted of in-depth interviews with TANF caseworkers and case workers at the multi-barrier agencies (which help TANF families overcome barriers to employment), physical, occupational and speech therapists, child care providers, staff at Child Care Plus ME (which provide assistance to child care providers in serving children with special needs), and staff at the child care resource and referral agencies (called RDCs in Maine) in three communities in Maine: Presque Isle, Lewiston/Auburn and Portland (N=66).
  • A statewide survey of a random sample of licensed child care providers in Maine, which examined the issues faced serving children with special needs (N=179).
  • A statewide survey of parents of children with diagnosed special needs across the income spectrum in Maine. Parents responded to a mailing sent to 4,000 families receiving services from Child Development Services (CDS) and 2,200 families enrolled in Maine Care (Title V and the Katie Beckett Waiver eligibility groups) (N=441).
  • An analysis of data from families with children participating in the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF). This analysis allowed researchers to compare work patterns of families with and without a child with special needs and among different types of special needs. In order to generate sample sizes large enough to reliably investigate relationships between child special needs and parental employment outcomes, data were extracted from all three waves (1997, 1999 and 2002) of the NSAF and merged to create a pooled sample of primary caregivers and their children. The pooled sample consists of 81,841 caregivers who are either the biological parent to the child or step or adoptive parent who answered questions about 104,556 children under the age of 18. Eleven percent (N=8,914) of these families reported having a child with a mental or physical disability and 5.2 percent (N=4,240) reported having a child in poor health. Among the sampled children ages 6 to 17, 7 percent (N=4,713) are reported by their parent to have behavioral or emotional problems.

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.


Child Care Provider Survey: 41.6 percent

Parent Survey: 7 percent


2018-08-06 Question Text and a publicly-available codebook file was added for the Parent Survey Restricted-Use Data (DS3).

2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Ward, Helen, and Lisa A. Morris. Child Care and Children with Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families, Maine, United States, 2002-2005. ICPSR27001-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2018-08-06.

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.

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This study is maintained and distributed by the Child and Family Data Archive (C&F Data Archive). C&F Data Archive hosts datasets about young children, their families and communities, and the programs that serve them. The C&F Data Archive is supported by Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), an office of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.