Category: Safety Net

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
Challenges in Serving Rural American Children through the Summer Food Service Program
When the school year ends, many low-income children rely on the USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to supplement their diet. But less than one-third of SFSP sites are located in rural communities and rural children participate at a lower rate than those in more urban areas.
Socioeconomic Indicators and Datasets, Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Food Assistance, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net Publication
Child Protective Services May Link Families to Needed Income Supports
The adverse effects of poverty on child and adolescent development are well documented and have been of interest to policy makers for several decades.1 Childhood poverty has a number of lasting impacts, including negative educational and cognitive outcomes, social and emotional behavior problems, poor adult economic outcomes, and health problems.2 For some children, these challenges are coupled with other family stressors including child maltreatment: children in poor families are approximately five times more likely to experience maltreatment than children in non-poor families.3 A number of public safety-net programs exist to help improve the economic well-being of vulnerable children,4 but little is known about the extent to which families with a child maltreatment report receive these services over time. In this brief, we examine the incidence of receiving four types of income support both immediately after the child maltreatment report and eighteen months following. Receipt of benefits immediately after the making of a report may suggest that families were connected to support services prior to their engagement with child protective services (CPS); receiving them only later may suggest the influence of the CPS engagement on support service use. The income supports analyzed include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); housing assistance; and the Social Security disability support. We also examine whether there are differences in the use of these income supports across rural and urban settings.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Family, Food Assistance, Poverty, Safety Net Publication
Child Tax Credit Expansion Increases Number of Families Eligible for a Refund
The analysis shows that more than 500,000 rural families, or almost 9 percent of rural families, will become newly eligible for the Child Tax Credit under the expansion included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Within these families are an estimated 900,000 rural children. The proportion of urban families benefiting from the expanded Child Tax Credit is slightly lower than in rural areas, but only 5 percent of suburban families are newly eligible for the credit.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Employment, Rural, Safety Net, Tax, Urban Publication
Children's Health Insurance in New Hampshire: An Analysis of New Hampshire Healthy Kids
New Hampshire has been successful in achieving one of the lowest uninsurance rates for children in the country - 6 percent in 2005 (U.S. Census Bureau). The extent to which New Hampshire Healthy Kids has contributed to the state's success in achieving this low rate is the focus of this brief.
Evaluation, New Hampshire Children, Health, Health Insurance, New Hampshire, Safety Net Publication
Closing Racial-Ethnic Gaps in Poverty
Although the role of government programs in alleviating poverty is widely studied, far less attention is paid to how these programs may differentially impact people with different racial-ethnic identities. Given that poverty rates among non-Hispanic whites are significantly lower than among other groups, programs with disparate effects by race can either widen or decrease racial-ethnic gaps in the poverty rate.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Safety Net Publication
Data Snapshot: Both Rural and Urban SNAP Recipients Affected by Proposed Work Requirements
With the expiration of the current Farm Bill on September 30, 2018, the House and Senate are working in conference committee to reconcile their versions of its replacement. A major difference between the two is the House’s inclusion of a more intensive work requirement. By narrowing the parental work exemption to only those with children under age 6, and requiring recipients up to age 60 (rather than 50) to work, the proposed House bill would newly subject about 16 percent of SNAP recipients in rural and urban places alike to work requirements.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, Food Assistance, Rural, Safety Net, Urban Publication
Data Snapshot: EITC Continues to Reach Families in Poor Places
Recent proposals in the House and Senate (for example, the Grow American Incomes Now Act) focus on amplifying the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—a refundable tax credit for low-income workers—to compensate for growing wage inequity. We find that the share of EITC filers who are families with children is especially high in the poorest counties (those counties outlined in black on Map 1), including many places throughout the South.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Safety Net Publication
Data Snapshot: Nine Million Publicly Insured Children in the Twelve States Facing Federal CHIP Cutoff by End of Year Primary tabs View(active tab) Edit
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—the federal program that extends health insurance coverage to low income children not eligible for traditional Medicaid—officially expired on September 30, 2017. Given that states implement CHIP in different ways, states will run out of funds at different times, with twelve states exhausting their federal allotment by the end of 2017 (see Figure 1).
Vulnerable Families Research Program Health Insurance, Safety Net Publication
Data Snapshot: SNAP Declines Continue in 2016, but Not for Rural Places
In 2016, 12.4 percent of households reported Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) receipt, down 0.4 percentage point from 2015. Similar declines in suburbs and cities drove the national decrease, but the 14.8 percent of rural households receiving SNAP did not significantly change between 2015 and 2016.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Food Assistance, Rural, Safety Net, Urban Publication
EITC is Vital for Working-Poor Families in Rural America
In the 2004 tax year, tax filers claimed almost $40 billion through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), making the EITC one of the largest federal programs that provides cash supports to low-income working families in the United States. The EITC is especially important to rural families throughout the United States. Among poor and near-poor families, those in rural areas are more likely to be working, and they are more likely to be working in low-wage jobs.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net, Tax Publication
Federal Child Nutrition Programs are Important to Rural Households
This brief, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, examines how rural families use four of the major federal child nutrition programs. It finds that 29 percent of rural families with children participate but that there are barriers to these nutrition programs, such as the lack of public transportation and high operating costs for rural schools and child care programs.
Evaluation, Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Food Assistance, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net Publication
Federal EITC Kept 2 Percent of the Population Out of Poverty
This brief documents the proportion of Americans who would have been poor absent the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), all else being equal, across 2010–2014. We examine Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rates as well as hypothetical increases in the rates of SPM poverty in the absence of federal EITC benefits. It is important to note that we do not model behavioral changes that might result from the removal of EITC benefits, so the analyses presented here are a simplified representation of such a hypothetical scenario. The SPM is an obvious choice for this analysis because unlike the Official Poverty Measure (OPM), which only accounts for before-tax cash income, the SPM also considers in-kind benefits, tax credits, and out-of-pocket work and medical expenses when estimating resources. We present SPM rates for all individuals (Table 1) as well as for children only (Table 2), analyzing trends across regions, metropolitan status, and by state. Importantly, geographic differences in the cost of housing are accounted for in the SPM rates, and consequently the analyses presented here give a more accurate sense of the poverty reducing impact of EITC benefits.1 Data This brief consists of a pooled sample using the Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) between the years of 2011–2015. The CPS ASEC is sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Census Bureau, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), providing annual income, migration, benefits, and insurance information for a nationally representative sample of Americans. The CPS uses a tax model calculator to simulate tax income instead of collecting tax information directly from respondents. Payroll taxes for individuals with earned income are simulated first, and then tax-filing units are estimated based on marital status and household relationship structure. Once the potential tax-filing units have been determined, state and federal taxes and credits are simulated for each unit (for more information, see https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/publications/oharataxmodel.pdf). Because tax credits are simulated, it is possible that some families who receive the EITC may not be included and others who are not eligible for EITC benefits (for example, undocumented immigrants) may be assigned a value due to errors in the tax model.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty, Safety Net, Tax Publication
Fewer Than Half of WIC-Eligible Families Receive WIC Benefits
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) serves millions of low-income women, infants, and children who are at nutritional risk by providing checks or vouchers for nutritious foods, nutrition counseling, breastfeeding support, and health care referrals.1 Foods eligible for WIC are high in certain nutrients and designed to meet the special nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, or postpartum women, as well as infants and children up to age 5.2 Research has shown that WIC is a successful and cost-effective program. Numerous studies find that WIC participation improves pre- and postnatal health outcomes; families’ overall nutrition; access to prenatal care, health care for children, and immunizations; and children’s cognitive development and academic achievement.3 In 2015, the average monthly WIC benefit was $43.58 per person. Easing the costs associated with buying nutritional foods frees up family resources for other necessities, like housing and medical costs. Families with pre-tax incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for the program.4 WIC benefits are especially important for rural families, as the poverty rate is higher in rural than in urban areas (18 percent compared with 15 percent in 2014).5 It is important to consider uptake differences by place type as research indicates that rural women perceive more stigma surrounding participation in government assistance programs compared with women in urban areas.6
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Family, Food Assistance, Poverty, Safety Net Publication
Food Stamp and School Lunch Programs Alleviate Food Insecurity in Rural America
The Food Stamp and the National School Lunch Programs play a vital role in helping poor, rural Americans obtain a more nutritious diet and alleviate food insecurity and hunger. This fact sheet looks at the extent to which rural America depends on these programs and describes characteristics of beneficiaries of these federal nutrition assistance programs.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Education, Food Assistance, Rural, Safety Net, Young Adults Publication
Forty-three Percent of Eligible Rural Families Can Claim a Larger Credit with EITC Expansion
This policy brief on the changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit in the ARRA also shows that families with three or more children and married couples will receive an increased refund under these new EITC rules for tax years 2009 and 2010. Many families in urban and suburban communities will also see increased benefits under these new provisions.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, Family, Rural, Safety Net, Tax Publication
Household Reports of Energy Assistance Receipt Increased 48 Percent During Recession: Proposed Cuts Threaten Vulnerable Families
This brief examines heating assistance usage and the implications of President Obama's 2012 budget proposal to cut $2.5 billion from the $5.1 billion energy assistance fund for low-income families at a time when families are struggling with higher energy costs amid a difficult economy. The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists vulnerable families in paying their home heating and cooling bills. Nationwide, from the winter of 2006/2007 to the winter of 2009/2010, there was a 48 percent increase in households receiving energy assistance. This growth appears to have accelerated with the recession, particularly in the rural Northeast and Midwest. Many more families are eligible than receive assistance. Brief author Jessica Carson discusses how proposed cuts would have a concrete and immediate impact on families, particularly those in rural areas and in harsh winter climates.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Family, Housing, Poverty, Safety Net Publication
How Far Would You Drive for Fresh Food? How Some Rural New Hampshire Residents Navigate a Dismal Food Landscape
Lack of access to food stores with healthy and affordable food is one of the central obstacles to eradicating hunger in America. Approximately 23.5 million Americans live more than a mile from a supermarket, which makes accessing healthy food more challenging. Among low income populations, especially those with young children and limited transportation, this distance can severely limit access to affordable and healthy foods. This brief reports the challenges that eighteen rural New Hampshire mothers face to secure healthy, affordable, and quality foods and suggests ways to help address these challenges.
New Hampshire, Vulnerable Families Research Program Family, Food Assistance, Low Income, New Hampshire, Rural, Safety Net 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
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