Vulnerable Families Research Program Resources

Resource Category Topic Type
"Not very many options for the people who are working here"
In this brief, we use interview and focus group data to describe some of the ways that restricted rural housing stock affects working families in two rural New England counties, and explore solutions proposed by rural residents and experts to make housing affordable (see Box 1 on page 2). Rural amenities and scenery make residence in certain New England regions desirable for second-home owners, vacationers, and retirees. However, the use of housing for these purposes, combined with efforts to conserve acreage and preserve scenery, serves to diminish the supply of housing, making it unaffordable for many low- and moderate-income residents. Moreover, the housing that is available varies in quality, and regional nonprofit and federal housing assistance programs lack the capacity to meet all residents’ needs.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Housing, Rural, Safety Net Publication
2012 National Child Poverty Rate Stagnates at 22.6 Percent
In this brief, authors Marybeth Mattingly, Jessica Carson, and Andrew Schaefer use American Community Survey data released on September 19, 2012, to explore patterns of child poverty across states and place types, focusing on changes both since 2011 and since the recession began in 2007.
New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, New Hampshire, Poverty Publication
2014 Data Indicate That Four in Ten Children Live in Low-Income Families
In September 2015, the Census Bureau released 2014 poverty data from the American Community Survey (ACS), the only regular source for reliably estimating child poverty in geographic areas below the state level using the official poverty measure. In this brief, we use ACS data to explore child poverty rates across the United States by region, state, and place type (rural, suburban, and city). We also examine data on children who are deeply poor (those in families with incomes below half of the poverty line), as well as low-income children (those in families with incomes less than twice the poverty line). We find that while child poverty declined nationwide between 2013 and 2014, that drop was not felt uniformly across the country: several states saw declines, a few states saw increases, and others saw no change at all. We also found substantial differences in the magnitude of change across rural places, suburbs, and cities. Child Poverty Rates Vary by State While child poverty declined overall, rates still vary tremendously across states, regions, and place types (see Table 1). Nationwide, 21.7 percent of children lived in poor families in 2014 (that is, with incomes below $19,073 for a single parent with two children),1 down 0.6 percentage point since 2013. Regionally, the Northeast retains the lowest child poverty rate, at 19.0 percent, while the highest rates continue to be found in cities (28.5 percent), followed by rural places (25.2 percent), and suburbs (16.8 percent). While child poverty declined in all place types between 2013 and 2014, declines across regions were not as consistent: the Northeast’s child poverty rate remained stable between 2013 and 2014 whereas other regions experienced a decline. Child poverty remained higher than in 2009 (post-recession) in nearly every region and place type, with the sole exception of the rural Midwest, where the 2014 child poverty rate was similar to the 2009 rate. State-by-state variations in child poverty rates are illustrated in Figure 1. States with poverty rates below 15 percent included Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. At the other end of the spectrum, rates in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington DC were above 25 percent. Between 2013 and 2014, changes in child poverty were not consistent across states: while fourteen witnessed a decline in child poverty over the year, four experienced a significant increase. Looking over a longer period—from the end of the Great Recession in 2009 until 2014—twenty states had child poverty rates similar to those at the end of the Great Recession, and two states—Colorado and Montana—had rates that were lower. Worth noting, however, is that the poverty rate has not fallen below its pre-recession rate in any state (data available upon request).
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty Publication
2020 Census Faces Challenges in Rural America
The 2020 Census will have ramifications for every person in the United States, urban and rural residents alike.1 Interest in the Census is growing2 and the Census Bureau’s plans are becoming more concrete,3 but little has been written about the special challenges that will make some rural areas and populations difficult to enumerate accurately.
Demography, Vulnerable Families Research Program Demography, Rural, Urban Resource
A Community Schools Approach to Accessing Services and Improving Neighborhood Outcomes in Manchester, New Hampshire
In the several years since the Great Recession, New Hampshire, like the nation, has witnessed and experienced growing economic disadvantage. The state’s poverty level stands at 8.4 percent, and child poverty increased from about 8 percent in 2000 to nearly 10 percent in 2012.1 Some areas of the state have been hit harder than others. In the state’s largest city of Manchester, for instance, the poverty rate rose from 10 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2012, and within Manchester some neighborhoods have become poorer than others (Figures 1 and 2).2 Increases in poverty and educational disadvantage are steepest among minorities and immigrants, the city’s fastest-growing demographic groups.3 The vulnerabilities to which people are exposed as a result of poverty can have devastating consequences. Children living in poverty are less likely to graduate from high school, and they have worse educational outcomes overall; one study found that living in a high-poverty neighborhood is equivalent to missing a year of school.4 Poverty-afflicted children are also more likely to live in poverty as adults.5 In an era when a state’s economic health depends more than ever on the physical health and educational capital of its residents, stakeholders across New Hampshire have a vested interest in alleviating the growing poverty in Manchester and the wide disparities between Manchester and the rest of the state. To engage in this challenge, the Manchester Neighborhood Health Improvement Strategy Leadership Team launched the Manchester Community Schools Project (MCSP)—a partnership between the Manchester Health Department, city elementary schools, philanthropists, neighborhood residents, and several nonprofit agencies—to improve and enhance educational achievement, economic well-being, access to health care services, healthy behaviors, social connectedness, safety, and living environments.
New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Community, Education, New Hampshire Publication
A Demographic and Economic Profile of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin
In this brief, we present a demographic and economic profile of Duluth, MN, and Superior, WI, with a specific focus on families with children. The cities, situated at the western point of Lake Superior (see Figure 1), share a rich economic history as major ports for coal, iron ore, and grain. Each city is also home to numerous colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Demography, Vulnerable Families Research Program Demography, Economic Development, Poverty Publication
A Profile of Youth Poverty and Opportunity in Southwestern Minnesota
Like many rural communities across the United States, Southwestern Minnesota (hereafter SW Minnesota; see Box 1) has an aging population, evidenced by a growing share of seniors and a declining share of children and young adults, particularly among the non-Hispanic white population.1 As the population ages, it is also becoming more diverse, as racial-ethnic minority population is far younger, on average, than the non-Hispanic white population and contains a disproportionate share of children and young adults. Much of the growth in diversity is driven by an expanding population of immigrants. These residents, typically in their young working-age years, often establish themselves in SW Minnesota and go on to have families of their own. Research on the rural outmigration of the young and working non-Hispanic white population indicates that it is often the most promising youth and young adults who leave and seek opportunities elsewhere.2 At the same time, the aging population puts pressure on scarce resources, and the immigrant populations often face challenges including low education, lack of English language proficiency, and the inability to garner work authorization. It is against this demographic backdrop that we explore challenges and opportunities for youth in SW Minnesota. We analyze data on various demographic, economic, educational, and social indicators to gain a better understanding of the circumstances youth face and the opportunity available in SW Minnesota. Wherever possible, we compare conditions in SW Minnesota to the state as a whole and to the entire nation.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Education, Income, Poverty Publication
After a Parent Left Employment, One in Five Children Lost Private Insurance
Parental job loss is an important trigger for a child’s loss of private health insurance.1 For example, research shows that parental loss of full-time employment doubles the odds that a child will lose private health insurance.2 Until the 1990s, substantial numbers of children lacked health insurance, but with the enactment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997, followed by changes to Medicaid and CHIP’s 2009 reauthorization, children’s health insurance coverage was expanded through broader eligibility, enrollment simplifications, and outreach efforts.3 From 1997 to 2012, the share of children without insurance fell from 14 percent to 7 percent.4 The growth of public coverage for children notwithstanding, private coverage is still the primary form of children’s health insurance. In 2014, 59 percent of children received coverage from private health insurance.5 But coverage has become less consistent for some children, due to an overall decline in employer-provided private-sector coverage, an increase in switching between public and private sources, and low public health insurance renewal rates.6 Even brief gaps in health insurance produce adverse consequences for children, including fewer medical provider visits over the course of a year, the loss of a primary health care provider, difficulty getting preventive and specialized medical care, and the increased use of emergency department and inpatient hospital visits.7 Loss of employer-based coverage leads to instability in health insurance, gaps in coverage, and more unmet health care needs.8 This brief focuses on children’s loss of private health insurance after a parent left his or her job voluntarily or involuntarily between May 2008 and the end of 2012 (see Box 1 for definitions). The number of uninsured children declined steadily throughout this period,9 and experts project that some of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 will foster a continued decline in the percentages of children without health insurance over the long term.10 For most of the period under study, many ACA provisions that have likely served to expand coverage—the mandate that persons obtain health insurance, the state option to expand Medicaid to reach more families, the provision of federal subsidies to purchase coverage, and the ACA requirement for states to transition coverage of children up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line from CHIP to Medicaid—had not yet gone into effect. But since most children are still covered under private health insurance plans, the majority of which are linked to the parents’ employment, understanding the relationship and the characteristics of children who are unlikely to remain covered after a parent leaves his or her job may help identify ways to preserve consistency in coverage. For example, health care providers, administrators, and policy makers can keep watch to ensure that eligible children are quickly connected with public sources of coverage.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Employment, Health Insurance, Hispanics, Unemployment Publication
After Great Recession, More Married Fathers Providing Child Care
The U.S. economy lost 8.7 million jobs between December 2007 and January 2010.1 Sixty-nine percent of the jobs lost during the recession were held by men, 2 and the employment rate of married fathers (whether working full or part time) with employed wives decreased from 92 percent in 2005 to 88 percent in 2011.3 The large job losses and persistently high unemployment from the Great Recession and its aftermath prompted families to adapt to financial hardship and reallocate fathers’ and mothers’ time spent in the labor force and in the home.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Child Care, Employment, Family, Unemployment Publication
After the Bell
Research on narrowing the academic achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth tends to focus on the inputs provided by schools. Little attention, however, is paid to extracurricular activities, both structured and unstructured, even though extracurricular participation and employment can have positive impacts similar to in-school experiences. Such activities keep adolescents engaged during high-risk hours, and consistent participation is linked to improved academic achievement and prosocial behaviors.1 Extracurricular activities are also influential in the college admissions process as well as in healthy development and academic success.2 This brief uses data from the 2012 National Survey of Children’s Health to examine involvement in activities among youth ages 12–18 across income categories and metropolitan status3 in the hopes of informing policy aimed at attenuating inequalities in participation. While not a complete profile of youth activities (time spent on homework, care of younger siblings, or housework, for example, are not included), determining participation rates helps us understand what youth are doing in their out-of-school hours and how these activities vary by income and metropolitan status. Access to extracurricular activities and employment is growing more unequal,4 and as a result lower-income youth may be increasingly disadvantaged compared to middle- and upper-income children.5 See Box 1: Definitions.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Education, Young Adults Publication