Applying for Child Care Benefits in the United States: 27 Families’ Experiences

We conducted user interviews with 27 families across the United States who applied for government-sponsored child care benefits in 2020 and 2021.

The insights and recommendations in our report can inform government, nonprofit, and public entity employees seeking to improve the experience of applying for child care benefits anywhere in the United States.

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What's inside

Free access to recent, primary, qualitative research

U.S. Digital Response (USDR) conducted 27 user interviews with families across the United States who applied for child care benefits in 2020 and 2021. In this research, we propose a conceptual framework for thinking about a family’s journey as they navigate child care assistance programs, and identify general experiences, sentiments, and areas of interest in each step of the journey.
Visualization showing which states participants in our study live in

Maps for understanding the applicant experience

Using a user research technique called "journey mapping," we identify common steps that families pass through while applying for child care benefits no matter where they live in the United States. For each phase, we share insights, recommendations, direct quotes from families, and concrete examples of what's working. Our report includes over 30 new top-level insights from our interviews.
Visualization of the journey map from our research

Actionable takeaways and recommendations

Public servants work with constraints: limited resources and legacy systems. In this report, we’ve only included high-impact recommendations that we believe are actionable and accessible to most teams seeking to improve the child care benefit application experience. We share examples of things that are working well that can be replicated — from Wisconsin's informative, succinct, and specific child care home page to Texas's provider search engine tool.
Example slide analyzing Connecticut's eligibility screening tool

Resources to take next steps

Whether you're a government change agent seeking to bring human-centric design into your agency, or an executive wishing to work with outside groups to fulfill your vision of a friendlier family experience, we include resources and next steps that any government team can take.
Example slide showing resources to help governments work with outside groups
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