Category: Vulnerable Families Research Program

Resource Category Topic Type
Involuntary Part-Time Employment
The number of involuntary part-time workers, defined as those who would like full time work but for a variety of economic reasons cannot find it, rose sharply during the Great Recession and reached a peak of over 9 million in 2010.1 Although unemployment overall has returned to its pre-recession level, involuntary part-time employment is still much higher than it was before the recession began, a trend that raises questions about the continuing ability of the economy to deliver employment security to people willing and able to work (see Box 1 on page 2). Involuntary part-timers include people like Salwa Shabazz, an African American woman who graduated from college in 2000 during an economic expansion. In an August 2016 opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Shabazz described her experience with involuntary part-time employment: I’ve worked on and off since 2008, but finding good work has become almost impossible. At one point, I was traveling two hours each way to get to my job at a state-run liquor store. I eventually had to quit when I suffered severe medical issues … A couple of years ago, I was able to work again and joined a job skills program. The program placed me at a job where I work part time—only 20 hours a week— as a cashier and food server at a university dining hall.…The unemployment rate apparently counts people like me as employed, even though I don’t work enough hours to pay my bills.2
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment Publication
Job Protection and Wage Replacement
Legislators across the United States are discussing paid family and medical leave, which allows workers to take an extended number of weeks away from their jobs, with some wage replacement, to care for a seriously ill, injured, or disabled family member, or a new child, or to tend to one’s own serious health condition. California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York currently have public programs that provide workers’ access to paid family and medical leave; Washington, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia recently passed similar legislation and have begun implementing their programs.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment Publication
Lack of Protections for Home Care Workers: Overtime Pay and Minimum Wage
This brief examines overtime hours and hourly wages among home care workers (home health aides and personal care aides) and compares them with hospital and nursing home aides. These aides engage in similar work for their clients, even though they work in different institutional settings.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, Health Insurance, Safety Net, Wages Publication
Limited Access to AP Courses for Students in Smaller and More Isolated Rural School Districts
This brief assesses trends in access to, enrollment in, and success in Advanced Placement (AP) coursework in relation to school district poverty, racial composition, and urbanicity. It uses data merged from the 2011–2012 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the 2012 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE), and the 2010 Decennial U.S. Census. Authors Douglas Gagnon and Marybeth Mattingly report that nearly one-half (47.2 percent) of rural districts have no secondary students enrolled in AP courses, compared with only 20.1 percent of town, 5.4 percent of suburban, and 2.6 percent of urban districts. Remote rural districts with small populations are nearly ten times less likely to offer access to AP courses than are larger rural districts on the fringe of urbanized areas. Even in districts that have some access to AP coursework, the proportion of students enrolled in an AP course in urban and suburban districts is roughly double that in town and rural districts. Students in more affluent districts have higher success rates than those in less affluent districts, regardless of place type.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Education, Rural, Young Adults Publication
Long-Term Foster Care—Different Needs, Different Outcomes
This brief examines where foster children are living four years after removal from their homes and the characteristics of these children and their placements. Understanding whether child characteristics such as age or emotional or behavioral problems are associated with a longer stay in out-of-home care can help identify children who are least likely to find permanence and may benefit from specialized services. The authors conclude that children in long-term foster care suffer from behavioral and emotional problems at alarming rates. Better identifying and assisting children with, or at risk of developing such problems upon entry to foster care and throughout their out-of-home placement, may alleviate their needs and troubles and provide mechanisms for supporting them as they get older. The authors also discuss programs having a positive impact on former foster care youths and the need for more state and federal investment in these programs. Their findings suggest that it may be worthwhile for states to reconsider their policies for the sake of long-term success.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Child Care, Children, Family, Safety Net Publication
Low Income and Impoverished Families Pay Disproportionately More for Child Care
According to research based on the 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation, working families with young children living in poverty pay 32 percent of their income on child care, nearly five times more than families living at more than 200 percent of the poverty level. This brief asks policy makers to consider allowing more subsidies to be available to those who could benefit most from them.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Child Care, Family, Poverty, Safety Net Publication
Low Wages Prevalent In Direct Care and Child Care Workforce
The large-scale movement of women into the paid labor market has brought sweeping change into family life and also in who cares for the elderly and children. This brief studies workers in two low wage, predominantly female care-giving occupations plagued with high turnover direct care workers and child care workers. It provides a better understanding of how they fare when compared with other female workers and discusses factors that contribute to their continued employment.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Child Care, Employment, Women Publication
Low-Skill Workers in Rural America Face Permanent Job Loss
Global economic competition and other factors have cost rural America 1.5 million jobs in the past six years. This brief analyzes job displacement figures from around the country between 1997 and 2003. The loss of rural jobs was particularly large in the manufacturing sector, and the rate of loss was higher in the rural Northeast than in the rest of rural America. The key causes fueling the trend have been the push for cost savings through automation and cheaper labor overseas.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, Low Income, Rural Publication
Maine Head Start Report: 2017
Founded in 1965, Head Start is designed to promote “school readiness of children under 5 from low-income families through education, health, social, and other services.”1 Created in 1994, Early Head Start focuses specifically on the youngest children—those under age 3, and pregnant women—and provides “early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income infants and toddlers, and their families, and pregnant women and their families.”2 The Administration for Children and Families, housed within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, oversees and administers all Head Start programs through the federal Office of Head Start.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Poverty Publication
Many Eligible Children Don’t Participate in School Nutrition Programs
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorizes funding for federal nutrition programs (including the National School Lunch Program; the School Breakfast Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; the Summer Food Service Program; and the Child and Adult Care Food Program), is set to expire on September 30, 2015.1 The reauthorization process allows Congress the opportunity to evaluate, alter, and allocate funding for these programs, giving rise to opportunities for expanding participation and improving program quality. This brief uses data from the 2013 Current Population Survey’s Food Security Supplement to document levels of participation in two of the largest programs authorized by this act—the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program—by region and place type (rural, suburban, and city), to identify areas where expanding participation may be especially important.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Education, Food Assistance, Safety Net Publication
Mapping Food Insecurity and Food Sources in New Hampshire Cities and Towns (co-publication with the Children's Alliance of NH)
Using a series of detailed New Hampshire maps, this brief presents a geographic picture of the towns and cities at risk for food insecurity as well as the food resources available across the state. By detailing places with high food insecurity risk and comparing them to places where food is available, these maps show areas of unmet need. This information will enable organizations partnering with New Hampshire Hunger Solutions to identify where initiatives addressing food insecurity and hunger could have the greatest potential impact.
Evaluation, New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Food Assistance, New Hampshire Publication
Mapping the Food Landscape in New Hampshire
In this brief, Jess Carson explores the food landscape of New Hampshire, documenting where lower incomes and low population density might lead to food insecurity, and mapping the locations of various food sources.
New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Food Assistance, Health, New Hampshire, Poverty Publication
Mathematics Achievement Gaps Between Suburban Students and Their Rural and Urban Peers Increase Over Time
In this brief, authors Suzanne Graham and Lauren Provost examine whether attending a school in a rural, urban, or suburban community is related to children’s mathematics achievement in kindergarten, and whether increases in mathematics achievement between kindergarten and eighth grade differ for children in rural, urban, and suburban schools.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Education, Rural, Urban Publication
Maximizing Returns to Colleges and Communities
Colleges and universities depend tremendously on their local communities in numerous ways, and through community investment, have a unique opportunity to support these communities in turn. This handbook provides an overview of community investment, including a step-by-step guide to implementing a community investment program that maximizes both financial and social returns.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Community, Economic Development, Education Publication
Middle-Skill Jobs Remain More Common Among Rural Workers
This issue brief uses data from the Current Population Survey collected from 2003 to 2012 to assess trends in employment in middle-skill jobs and the Great Recession’s impact on middle-skill workers, with particular attention paid to differences between those in rural and urban places.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, Rural, Urban Publication
More Poor Kids in More Poor Places: Children Increasingly Live Where Poverty Persists
The authors of this brief examine child poverty rates using decennial census data from 1980, 1990, and 2000, as well as American Community Survey five-year estimates between 2005 and 2009, to identify those counties where child poverty has persisted. They find persistent child poverty in nearly twice as many U.S. counties as those that report high persistent poverty across all age groups. In all, 342 counties have experienced persistently high levels of poverty across all age groups during the past twenty-nine years. In contrast, more than 700 counties experienced persistent child poverty over the same period. Rural areas are disproportionately likely to have persistent high child poverty; 81 percent of counties with persistent child poverty are nonmetropolitan while only 65 percent of all U.S. counties are nonmetropolitan. Overall, 26 percent of rural children reside in counties whose poverty rates have been persistently high. This compares with 12 percent of urban children. Counties with persistent child poverty cluster in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, other areas of the Southeast, parts of the Southwest, and in the Great Plains. The authors comment that the overwhelming urban focus of welfare programs means policymakers often overlook needy families in rural areas. In addition to the high unemployment and low education levels that they document in the brief, the physical and social isolation associated with rural poverty create problems different from those in densely settled urban areas. They conclude that the reductions in government spending likely to result from the Great Recession, coupled with two decades of the devolution of policymaking responsibility from the federal to the state level (and occasionally to municipal governments), may have significant implications for children and fragile families in these persistently poor rural counties.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net, Urban Publication
More Than 95 Percent of U.S. Children Had Health Insurance in 2015
Enrolling all children in health insurance is a primary goal of health care advocates. Children who have health insurance have better access to health care and, as a result, experience gains in a variety of well-being measures, including health and school attainment.1 Most children are covered by private insurance,2 but public insurance available through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has significantly contributed to gains in insurance rates among children.3 Providing access to health care for children living in poverty was central to Medicaid during the “The Great Society” project of the 1960s. CHIP was adopted in 1997, which aimed to enroll low-income children whose parents’ income was too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private coverage. Despite some debate regarding the income level at which children ought to qualify for public coverage, legislation to insure children has received bipartisan support.4 Policy and advocacy efforts to insure children have been effective: a higher share of children were enrolled in health insurance in 2015—95.2 percent—than at any time since these data started being collected in 20085 (see Table 1). Rates of coverage increased 1.2 percentage points between 2014 and 2015. By region, the largest gains occurred in the South (1.2 percentage points) and the West (1.9 percentage points). These two regions traditionally have had the lowest rates of coverage and therefore the most opportunity for growth. Yet even after marked improvements in children’s coverage in both, they still lag behind the Northeast and Midwest. Rates of coverage also grew across all place types (cities, suburbs, and rural places) between 2014 and 2015 except in Midwestern cities, where the measured gain was not statistically significant. The most substantial gains occurred in Western and Southern suburban and rural places.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Health Insurance, Safety Net Publication
More Than One in Ten American Households Relies on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most responsive federal programs to economic downturns, as evidence by the increases in SNAP use between 2007 and 2009. Nationally, more than one in ten households relies on SNAP benefits, and the rate is even higher in rural areas, with more than 13 percent of households reporting use. This brief examines the trends in SNAP use across the United States since the recession began in 2007 and considers the impact of legislation in the Congress on those who rely on SNAP to make ends meet.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Food Assistance, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net Publication
Most U.S. School Districts Have Low Access to School Counselors
In education today, diverse movements such as the “whole child” approach, “conveyor belt” services, and “Let’s Move!” share a common understanding that children bring a host of needs to school and often require more than academic support.1 Students living in poverty often benefit from more intensive support, as they are much more likely to come from difficult circumstances such as less stable homes2 and more violent environments.3 It is difficult to estimate the number of children with social or emotional impediments to learning, but by any measure it is substantial.4 Addressing the non-cognitive challenges these students face is important not only for them but for their peers, who can experience harmful spillover effects.5 Even students who perform well can face “last mile” hurdles that prevent them from successfully transitioning to suitable college or career options. School counselors,6 tasked with addressing the academic, career, personal, and social needs of students, play a crucial role in bridging these gaps. Perhaps the most popularized aspect of their work is conducting one-on-one and small group counseling with students in need, but in addition school counselors often work closely with school administrators, teachers, school support staff, parents, and outside community members to design, implement, and evaluate comprehensive wellness programs within schools. For instance, such curricula may aim to provide drug abuse awareness, foster non-cognitive academic skills, or develop appropriate social connections.8 Additionally, school counselors play an important role in meeting the needs of, and advocating for, students with a disability.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Education Publication
New Data Show One-in-Six Children Were Poor Before COVID-19 Pandemic
New American Community Survey (ACS) data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 17, 2020 show child poverty at 16.8 percent in 2019, down from 18 percent in 2018. Sub-national patterns in child poverty remain intact; for example, higher in rural and urban places than in the suburbs. Importantly, 2019 child poverty declines are likely now outdated due to the COVID-19-related recession, the effects of which may last years. For instance, child poverty had still not yet returned to pre-Great Recession rates from 2007 in all states by 2019, illustrating that recovery in child poverty can be a long process.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty Publication