Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Children, Youth and Families

Child Care and Children with Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families

Faced with the often impossible task of finding suitable, stable child care for their special needs child, many parents are nevertheless forced by economic necessity to join the labor force. Despite the higher incidence of disabilities and chronic health problems among low income children, surprisingly little research has been done about the experiences of these families in balancing work and family.

In a three-year study focused on access to child care, we also examined the related issues of welfare reform, the impact of having a child with special needs on work force participation, and coordination of early intervention services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act with the child care system.

Our goal was to understand issues facing low income families with children with special needs across the programs and policies affecting their employment, access to child care and meeting the special needs of their children. To do this we:

  • conducted focus groups of parents and individual, in-depth interviews with child care and other service providers who interact with this population;
  • conducted a statewide survey of child care providers and parents of children with special needs; and
  • analyzed data from the National Survey of America's Families to examine national labor force patterns for this population.

We used our findings to develop and distribute a DVD to educate employers about the work challenges for this population and the workplace policies that can support them in their employment.



Child Care and Children with Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families: Parents' Voices

Child Care and Children with Special Needs: Challenges for Low Income Families (final report)


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Nellie Mae Education Foundation nominates Pious Ali for the Lawrence W. O'Toole Award

Pious Ali

Pious Ali, Youth and Community Engagement Specialist in Cutler’s Children, Youth, and Families Programs, has been nominated for the Lawrence W. O’Toole Award by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Pious is one of six nominees from the New England states.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation believes that student-centered learning – where learning is personalized, engaging, competency-based and not restricted to the classroom – will prepare young people to graduate high school ready to contribute to their communities and succeed. This award is given out each year to an individual, school district, or non-profit that has exhibited great leadership in moving student-centered approaches to learning forward in the New England region.

The winner will be selected by online voting and will be awarded a $100,000 grant to help advance student centered learning!


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MYTC 2014 Celebration

Colby Swettberg, May 2014, MYTC

Every year the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative brings together youth and adult partners from around Maine to celebrate the year's achievements and milestones.

MYTC’s fourth annual celebration dinner was held at the Brunswick Hotel and Tavern on May 13, 2014. Over seventy young adults, adult partners, professionals, legislators, adoptive families, and friends came together for an evening of fun, renewed connections, learning, and good food.

The importance of mentors in the lives of young people was the theme for the evening. The keynote speaker, Colby Swettberg, Executive Director of Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring in Boston, was introduced by Jacob Hills. Ms. Swettberg talked about what good mentor-mentee relationships look like for youth in foster care and led a discussion about best practices and challenges to bringing youth and mentors together.

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