Category: Safety Net

Resource Category Topic Type
Innovation in Food Access Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered income losses and rising demand for food-related support, while social distancing requirements have complicated access to usual nutrition support sites. In response, government agencies, private retailers, nonprofit organizations, and volunteer networks are undertaking innovative efforts to ensure food access by vulnerable populations. By highlighting strategies that are unfolding in real time, this brief shares an array of potential approaches for private, public, and nonprofit stakeholders to use in deploying their resources.
COVID-19, Vulnerable Families Research Program COVID-19, Food Assistance, 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
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
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
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
New Hampshire Children in Need of Services: Impacts of 2011 Legislative Changes to CHINS
Using administrative data from state and local agencies and data from interviews with CHINS professionals, this brief provides an overview of participation in the Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program before and after the change in the law in September 2011 but before funding returned in 2013.
Evaluation, New Hampshire Children, Health, New Hampshire, Safety Net Publication
One Million Additional Children in Poverty Since 2009: 2010 Data Reveal Nearly One in Four Southern Children Now Live in Poverty
American Community Survey (ACS) data released on September 22, 2011 allow for a detailed look at child poverty by state and place, adding to the understanding of the economic landscape described by the Current Population Survey (CPS) data released last week. While the CPS data are useful for providing a snapshot of poverty across the nation, the larger sample size of the ACS--three million addresses versus 100,000 addresses in the CPS--makes it better suited for nuanced analyses of poverty. In this brief, the authors use the ACS data released on September 22 to focus on child poverty. The authors report that between 2009 and 2010 an additional one million children joined the ranks of those in poverty. This brings the total to an estimated 15.7 million poor children in 2010, an increase of 2.6 million since the Great Recession began in 2007. Of the 15.7 million poor children in 2010, 5.9 million are young (under age 6), an increase of 220,000 over one year. Across the United States, rural, suburban, and central city areas all realized significant increases in child poverty between 2009 and 2010 and since the recent recession began in 2007. Congressional concerns over the federal debt have already resulted in an agreement that will force significant cuts to domestic spending, including many programs that serve children and families. The authors stress that, although budget cuts are unavoidable, policy makers should carefully consider how cuts are distributed, keeping America's most vulnerable families in mind as the effects of the recession reverberate, as demonstrated by high child poverty rates.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty, Safety Net Publication
Over 3 Million Low-Income Children in Rural Areas Face Cut in Child Tax Credit if Recovery Act Improvement Expires
According to this new research, at the end of 2010, the Child Tax Credit improvements that were included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will expire if Congress does not extend them. If this happens, low-income working families across America will be affected.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net, Tax Publication
Paid Sick Time Helps Workers Balance Work and Family
In New Hampshire, workers fare better than workers nationally, yet one-quarter of Granite State workers do not have paid sick days. The lack of paid sick days places workers in a bind. They are forced to choose between caring for a sick family member or themselves and losing pay. This brief suggests that the long-term benefits of workers having paid sick days out way the cost for employers because it promotes less contagion among coworkers, increased productivity, and reduced turnover.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Community, Employment, New Hampshire, Safety Net Publication
Proposed EITC Expansion Would Increase Eligibility and Dollars for Rural and Urban “Childless” Workers
This brief uses data from the 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey to examine how President Obama’s proposed expanded eligibility and higher credit values might affect tax filers in both rural and urban America.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Employment, Rural, Safety Net, Tax, Urban Publication
Rates of SNAP Receipt Stabilize or Drop in All Regions for First Time Since Great Recession
From the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007 until 2012, receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits grew steadily.1 Participation and funding rose to historic levels2 driven by the changing economy, intensified efforts to enroll eligible populations, and expanded benefits and eligibility via the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Throughout the recovery, SNAP has acted as an economic stimulus and part of a safety net for struggling families. In 2013, SNAP receipt fell slightly—a decline perhaps indicative of a slowly recovering economy. However, substantially more households still reported receiving SNAP benefits in 2013 than before the recession.3 Despite the declines in SNAP receipt in 2013, the program remains an important support for populations at risk for food insecurity and hunger. There is currently substantial disagreement about the future of SNAP funding. The president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 made no substantial cuts to SNAP funding, and allotted additional funds to improving access to SNAP for seniors. By comparison, the budget resolution adopted by Congress cuts low- and moderate-income entitlements (outside of health care) by an average of one-third by 2025.4 If cuts to income security programs are applied across the board, the plan would cut $350 billion dollars over the next decade, from programs—like SNAP—that serve low income families. Although the proposed cuts are unlikely to be enacted in 2015, cuts will be debated and are likely to be a major component of the Farm Bill reauthorization debate, scheduled for 2018. Further, the impact of an earlier reduction in funding (November 2013) is not yet visible in most data, making it an important time to assess SNAP’s reach.5 This brief uses data from the American Community Survey to document rates of SNAP receipt in 2013, to track changes since the onset of the recession in 2007, and to monitor receipt by region and across rural places, suburbs, and cities. In addition, it examines levels of SNAP receipt among potentially vulnerable populations to determine how receipt has changed among these groups since the recession began.6
Vulnerable Families Research Program Family, Food Assistance, Safety Net Publication
Recent Data Show Continued Growth in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Use
This brief uses data from the American Community Survey to examine rates of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receipt in 2011, with particular attention to changes since the onset of the recession, and to receipt by family composition, region, and place type (rural, suburban, and central city locations).
Vulnerable Families Research Program Family, Food Assistance, Poverty, Safety Net Publication
Related Foster Parents Less Likely to Receive Support Services Compared With Nonrelative Foster Parents
This brief identifies gaps in support services among foster parents using data from a nationally representative survey of children involved in the child welfare system (the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being).
Vulnerable Families Research Program Family, Health, Safety Net Publication
Reliance on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Continued to Rise Post-Recession
This brief uses data from the 2007, 2009, and 2010 American Community Survey to provide an up-to-date look at changes in SNAP receipt over the course of the recession. The author reports that receipt of SNAP continued to rise in 2010, increasing 4 percentage points since the recession began in 2007, and 1.6 percentage points since 2009.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Food Assistance, Safety Net Publication
Rural and Central City Residents with Multiple Children Likely to Be Hardest Hit by Proposed WIC Cuts
This brief uses data from the 2007 and 2010 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement to describe the distribution of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) receipt across the population and to detail place-based differences in receipt. WIC is a nutrition program that serves pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 (who meet certain criteria) by providing them with nutrition education and checks or vouchers for food purchases. The proposed fiscal year 2012 funding is $733 million less for WIC than fiscal year 2011 levels, and far less than what is needed to serve all who are eligible. This brief describes the implications of the cuts to the WIC budget to help policymakers and service providers to better understand the population likely affected by cuts to WIC funding.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net, Urban Publication
Rural Children Increasingly Rely on Medicaid and State Child Health Insurance Programs for Medical Care
Despite a flurry of reports on health insurance coverage for children, virtually none of them have examined the unique situation of rural families where one-fifth of all the nation's poor children live. This brief takes an in-depth look at the health insurance programs, such as SCHIP and Medicaid, which rural children rely on for medical care.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Children, Health, Health Insurance, Poverty, Rural, Safety Net Publication
Rural Workers Would Benefit from Unemployment Insurance Modernization
Rural workers stand to benefit from the modernization of unemployment insurance (UI) to cover part-time workers, which is an opportunity for states under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Plan (ARRA). Rural workers are more likely to work part-time, and many states that do not provide UI benefits to part-time workers have higher than average proportions of rural residents.
Vulnerable Families Research Program Employment, Rural, Safety Net, Unemployment Publication