Helping Parents Navigate Their Child Care Options

Lessons from the BIAS Project

Helping Parents Navigate Their Child Care Options

CABS partnered with a state child care agency to improve how child care options were shared with parents who were eligible for a voucher. While parents were on the waiting list for receiving their voucher, CABS encouraged them to consider providers in the highest tier of their state’s child care quality rating system.

CABS designed two interventions. In the first intervention, the letter and brochure typically sent to parents on the waiting list were replaced with a redesigned packet that included child care referrals. A customized map showed three personalized referrals near the parent’s home — ranked from highest-level provider to unranked, depending on options near that person’s home. CABS generated the referrals based on the parent’s home address and a match between the age of the children served and the needs of the family. This element of the packet aimed to help parents recognize that quality-rated providers were within reach and, by showing the proximity of the providers to their homes, encourage them to visit the providers while they were still on the waiting list.

In the second intervention, parents received the same materials but also received a phone call from an agent ready to help them. Agents had a script informed by behavioral science that asked parents whether they had received the personalized referrals.

The intervention shifted the preferences of some parents. Parents who received only the new mailing did not enroll with top-tier providers at higher rates. But those who received the packet with a phone call were more likely to enroll with top-tier providers. The state expanded the child care referral maps statewide after the intervention.

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