This study examined the relationship between receipt of child care subsidies and child maltreatment investigations in a sample of low‐income mothers in Illinois. We expected that receiving child care subsidies would have a protective effect on child maltreatment risk and therefore decrease the likelihood of child protective services investigations. Using structural equation modelling, we tested the direct and indirect paths of the receipt of child care subsidies to physical abuse or neglect. We found only direct effects of receiving child care subsidies on both physical abuse and neglect investigations. The findings suggest an important protective role of child care subsidies in the lives of low‐income families.