Posts About Poverty and Economic Stability

Earlier today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2014 estimates on income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States. The official poverty rate for 2014 was 14.8 percent, a statistically insignificant change from 14.5 percent in 2013 but still far above the pre-recession rate of 12.5 percent in 2007.

Children and families of color continued to see disproportionately higher rates of poverty in 2014. Additionally, female-headed households faced higher rates of poverty than those of male-headed households or of married-couple families.

Poverty Highlights

  • The change in the poverty rate for children under 18 was not statistically significant—from 19.9 percent in 2013 to 21.1 percent in 2014—with 15.5 million children living in poverty.
  • The 2014 poverty rates among non-Hispanic Whites and Asians were 10.1 percent and 12.0 percent respectively, and the poverty rates for Blacks and Hispanics were 26.2 percent and 23.6 percent respectively.
  • The poverty rates for Black and Hispanic children, at 37.1 percent and 31.9 percent respectively, were significantly higher than their non-Hispanic White and Asian peers, who faced poverty rates of 12.3 percent and 14.0 percent respectively.
  • The poverty rate for families (households – not householder) was 12.7 percent, not significantly different from the rate in 2013 (12.4 percent).
  • The poverty rate for families with a female head of household (no husband present) remained unchanged from 2013 at 30.6 percent, while the poverty rate for families with a male householder (no wife present), also remained unchanged, at a significantly lower rate of 15.7 percent.
  • The poverty rate for children in female-headed households was four times the rate for children in married-couple families, at 46.5 percent and 10.6 percent respectively.

Income Highlights

Though the official median income in 2014 did not differ significantly statistically from 2013, Black and Hispanic individuals and families continued to face significant income disparities compared with their non-Hispanic White and Asian counterparts. Furthermore, women of color, particularly Black and Hispanic women, continued to face significantly lower earnings than their male counterparts.

  • The median household income in 2014 was $53,657, a statistically insignificant change from 2013. 
  • The real median income of non-Hispanic White households ($60,256) decreased by 1.7 percent while that of Black ($35,398), Asian ($74,297) and Hispanic ($42,491) households remained relatively the same.
  • In 2014, the median earnings of all women who worked full time, year-round ($39,621) was 79 percent of that for men working full time, year-round ($50,383). This ratio was not statistically different from that of 2013, but varied drastically when factoring in the median earnings of Black ($31,229) and Hispanic ($26,810) women who worked full time in 2014.

Health Insurance Highlights

2014 represents the first year in which the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was fully implemented. As a result, the share of Americans lacking health insurance coverage fell dramatically from 13.3 percent in 2013 to 10.4 percent in 2014. The report released today considered people “insured” if they were covered by any type of health insurance for all or part of the previous calendar year. It showed a significant increase in coverage for both Black and Hispanic people. The states that expanded Medicaid experienced significant drops in their uninsured population.

  • The rate of private coverage increased by 1.8 percent to 66.0 percent in 2014, and the government coverage rate increased by 2.0 percent to 36.5 percent.
  • Young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 accounted for more than 40 percent of newly insured Americans.
  • In 2014, the uninsured rate for non-Hispanic White populations was 7.6 percent, compared with 11.8 percent for Black, 9.3 percent for Asian and 19.9 percent for Hispanic populations. Black and Hispanic populations saw the most significant decrease, with both groups seeing their uninsured rate decrease by 4.5 and 4.1 percent, respectively.

Supplemental Poverty Measure Highlights

For the first time, along with the official data, the Census Bureau released data from the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which takes into account cash income, public benefits and subtracts necessary expenses. The official poverty measure is based on only pre-tax money income, and SPM also considers the value of in-kind benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), school lunches, housing assistance and refundable tax credits. Additionally, the supplemental poverty measure deducts necessary expenses for crucial goods and services, including taxes, child care, transportation costs and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

According to the SPM:

  • The supplemental poverty rate was 15.3 percent, not a statistically significant change from 2013.
  • The supplemental poverty rate for children, taking into account tax credits and noncash benefits, was 16.7 percent—far lower than the official child poverty rate of 21.1 percent.
  • The top three federal benefit programs that reduced poverty in 2014 were Social Security, refundable tax credits and SNAP. Each program reduced the supplemental poverty rate by 8.2 percent, 3.1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
  • The greatest increases to the supplemental poverty rate were caused by work expenses (accounting for a 2.0 percent increase) and out-of-pocket medical expenses (accounting for a 3.5 percent increase).

Deep Poverty

The data released today show that 46.7 million people are living in poverty in the United States, of which 20.8 million are living in deep poverty—at or below 50 percent of the poverty threshold. Significant disparities in deep poverty exist for communities of color, as Black and Hispanic populations faced deep poverty rates of 12.0 percent and 9.6 percent respectively, compared with 5.6 percent for both Asian and non-Hispanic White populations.

Children and families living in deep poverty often face significant barriers to accessing the programs that are designed to lift people out of poverty. Today’s data show that in comparison with the 62.4 percent of those living at twice the poverty line who receive benefits from means-tested programs, only 13.8 percent of families in deep poverty receive these same benefits.

The Important Role of Public Policy in Supporting Children and Families in Deep Poverty

Children and families in deep poverty face significant, wide-ranging and intersecting barriers, including homelessness, immigration status, mental or physical impairments, substance abuse or addiction and/or intellectual disabilities. These barriers compound the challenges experienced by many poor families including access to child care and/or transportation. Public policy should provide targeted and readily available supports that address all these barriers to successfully meet the needs of families living in deep poverty.

Policies that create incentives to serve families in the greatest need, reduce barriers to service eligibility and access and set aside slots for families living below the poverty threshold are all ways policy can better meet the needs of families in deep poverty. For example, letting parents who have lost their employment maintain their child care subsidy provides a necessary support in finding and starting a new job while also ensuring continuity for their young child. Efforts that are targeted at meeting the needs of children and their parents are important in trying to break the often intergenerational problem of deep poverty.

The Need for a Focus on Equity 

The poverty data released today indicate children and families of color continue to face disproportionately higher poverty rates and lower incomes when compared with White families, which has been consistent for more than three decades. Black children were two times more likely to face deep poverty than White children and more than three times more likely than Asian children. Deep poverty rates for Black children are 18.2 percent, Hispanic children 12.9 percent, Asian children 4.9 percent and White children 7.4 percent. This inequity shows the need for innovative solutions and targeted public investments, especially for children and families living in deep poverty. Policy strategies should take into account the existence of disparate opportunities and outcomes. The entire community benefits from policy strategies and solutions that focus on equity.

For more strategies to improve outcomes for children and families of color, read our recent report Achieving Racial Equity or visit


Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability, Well-Being, Data

Update on MIECHV Program Extension

· Natasya Gandana

Last week, the US House of Representatives reauthorized an extension for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program at the current funding levels of $400 million through March 2017. Though funding for this program was set to expire on March 31, 2015, this extension is the first step in maintaining support for families facing economic and social challenges.

As recently highlighted in our blog, the Home Visiting Program provides families with a range of services, including weekly visits from a nurse, social worker or early childhood educator that aid in promoting healthy child development, increasing school readiness, and building parental capacity through positive parenting. In addition, the program helps by providing guidance to parents in assessing health, social service and child development professionals.

Since 2010, the program has helped serve approximately 115,500 parents and children in 787 counties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. In addition, the program has demonstrated improvements to children’s health, preventing child abuse and neglect, and increasing self-sufficiency for families involved.

As part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, the next step in ensuring that this program continues supporting families is for the Senate to pass the extension as well.   

For more information on the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, read our blog.

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability

The Children’s Defense Fund recently published Ending Child Poverty Now, a report outlining their approach to comprehensive child poverty reduction. According to the US Census Bureau and highlighted in this report, 1 in 5 children growing up in the United States live in poverty. Children of color have an even greater likelihood of living in poverty, with 1 in 2 black children and 1 in 3 Hispanic children living in poverty. Poverty doesn’t just have an adverse experience on children early in their lives. Children living in poverty experience lifelong consequences including poor health, lower educational attainment, and more frequent involvement with the criminal justice system.

While child poverty in the United States is inexcusably high (19.9 percent), there are programs and policies that have been shown to make a difference.  CDF’s recommendations suggest building on these successful programs - and analysis conducted by the Urban Institute found that, if implemented, these recommendations would reduce poverty for 6.6 million children. The policy recommendations included in the report are projected to reduce child poverty by 60 percent when measured with the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).

According to the report, reductions in poverty can be made by expanding federal policies that are already in place. The report suggests:

  • Increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income families with children: 9 percent reduction
  • Increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10: 4 percent reduction
  • Creating subsidized jobs for unemployed and underemployed individuals ages 16-64 in families with children: 11 percent reduction
  • Making child care subsidies available to all eligible families below 150 percent of poverty: 3 percent reduction
  • Making the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable with a higher reimbursement rate: 1 percent reduction
  • Increasing SNAP benefits: 16 percent reduction
  • Making the Child tax Credit fully refundable: 12 percent reduction
  • Making housing vouchers available to all households with children below 150 percent of poverty for whom fair market rent exceeds 50 percent of their income: 21 percent reduction
  • Requiring child support to be fully passed through to TANF families, fully disregarded for TANF benefits, and partially disregarded for SNAP benefits: 1 percent reduction in the number of children in poverty

The report also includes suggestions of ways to pay for these policy changes. They suggest investing $77.2 billion to pay for the recommendations included in the report and that the money could be found by taking any of the following actions:

  • Closing tax loopholes for corporations ($90 billion)
  • Eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy by taxing capital gains and dividends ($84 billion)
  • Closing tax loopholes included in the Tax Reform Act of 2014 ($79.3 billion)
  • Cutting 14 percent of the FY2015 $578 billion in military spending ($80.9 billion)
  • Scrapping the F-35 fighter jet program ($1.5 trillion)

The CDF report analyzes the impact of individual policies, but also demonstrates how the most successful anti-poverty strategy involves a combination of policy changes. Though these recommendations are based on federal policies, state policymakers can help to influence state counterparts of these policies and programs to reduce poverty among children within their states.

For the full analysis of each policy recommendation, please see CDF’s complete report.

For state policies to reduce child poverty, please read CSSP’s report Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Reducing Child Poverty.

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability

At CSSP we are committed to ensuring that programs and policies are crafted in a way that best meet the needs of low-income people. Two populations that are particularly important to us are youth transitioning from foster care and young parents. We believe that public policy must help provide opportunities for these individuals to be successful and to thrive.

One program that can help is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is an effective program supporting low and moderate income families by helping reduce the amount of tax owed and providing a refund. Research proves it helps lift millions from poverty each year.

A new CSSP brief, "Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to Childless Adults," outlines the ways expanding the EITC to younger adults and noncustodial parents can help offer low-income, young adults with an additional support to ensure economic stability. This establishes an important foundation not just for young people leaving foster care and for young parents - but also for young people who will soon be parents. Increasing the amount provided through the tax credit and expanding the eligibility to younger adults and noncustodial parents would both reduce poverty and be good for children.

In fact, children in families that receive the EITC have improved infant health, higher school-age academic achievement and increased college enrollment rates. For every $3,000 a year in additional parental income per child under age 6 that a low-income family receives, research shows there is an increase in the child's future working hours by 135 hours a year between ages 25 and 37, and their annual earnings rise by 17 percent.

To make the EITC even more effective in reducing poverty the details matter. This brief outlines three plans (two federal and one state) and assesses the specifics of each proposal and provides recommendations for improving policies to support low-income people and their families. 

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability

The 2013 Supplemental Poverty Measure

· Natasya Gandana

Last week, the Census Bureau released the 2013 poverty rate based on an alternative measure of poverty, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). In 2013, the supplemental poverty measure found that 15.5 percent of people are living in poverty, compared to 16 percent in 2012. Children were found to have a supplemental poverty rate of 16.4 percent compared with 20.4 percent using the official measure. The SPM found that adults over 65 have a poverty rate of 14.6 percent compared with 9.6 percent using the official measure.

The SPM differs from the current poverty measure because it takes into account the impact of non-cash benefits, necessary expenditures for families and geographic location. Though the official U.S. poverty measure is updated annually to adjust for inflation, it provides an absolute definition of poverty, with families either defined as living in poverty or above it. Alternatively, the SPM provides a detailed look into the lives of families living in- or near - poverty and provides information on the effectiveness of safety-net programs.

The SPM takes into account factors including:

  • unrelated people (like foster children and unmarried partners);
  • information on what people spend today for basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities;
  • housing costs, including related factors such as geographic location, if a family pays a mortgage, rents or owns their home; and
  • non-cash benefits from the government that help families meet their basic needs, while subtracting expenses, such as health care, taxes, commuting costs, etc.

The SPM also provides important information demonstrating the success of government benefits in keeping millions of families out of poverty. By including taxes, benefits, and other necessary expenses, the SPM provides information on what resources people need to make ends meet and measures the resources that are currently in place.

The findings from the SPM show how Social Security, refundable tax credits, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are three programs that have a strong impact on the lives of low-income people. Without Social Security, the supplemental poverty rate would be 24.1 percent compared to the current rate of 15.5 percent – a significant 8.6 percent higher. Refundable tax credits also demonstrate a significant benefit to children, reducing the supplemental rate of poverty by 3 percent across all age groups and doubles for children with a reduction of 6.4 percent. These numbers are clear - government programs alleviate poverty and can improve the quality of life for low-income families and children.   

For more information on the Supplemental Poverty Measure, read the full report here.  

To read our blog post on the 2013 Census Poverty Data, click here.

Posted In: Data, Poverty and Economic Stability

The Inequity Problem

· Natasya Gandana

One of the most significant consequence of growing economic inequality is the impact on children. A recent report released by Standard & Poor states that children born into low-income households have a 45 percent chance of remaining poor as adults. However, with a college degree that number falls to 19 percent. Unfortunately, young people from low-income families are less likely to be in a position to graduate from college when compared to their affluent counterparts. These numbers demonstrate the ways that inequities are impacting multiple generations. Without the skills necessary to obtain a job in the new economy, less-educated workers are falling farther behind. The report, How Increasing Income Inequality is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, And Possible Ways to Change the Tide, demonstrates how extreme rates of inequality in the United States can harm both low-income families and the country’s economic growth.

The gap between the rich and the poor is at a record high. The research shows that in order to prevent negative repercussions, the level of inequities in the United States needs to be addressed through policy solutions aimed at current laws governing corporate practices, tax policy and funding levels for public programs.   

According to the report, a review done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that the average income of the richest 10 percent of the population in OECD Countries is nine times that of the poorest 10 percent, with a ratio of 9 to 1. However, in the United States, the ratio is much higher at 14 to 1. The U.S. Gini Coefficient, a measure of income inequality based on the relationship between shares of income and shares of the population, shows that there has been an increase of inequality of more than 20 percent since 1979. The research also indicates that the average income increased by 15.1 percent for the top one percent from 2009 to 2010, but increased by less than 1 percent for the bottom 90 percent.

These numbers are troubling – and are directly related to public policies. The high rates of inequities are a result, in part, of policies that have promoted deregulation, corporate governance and equity options in executive compensation. In addition, public programs that have primarily served low-income and poor families have been reduced. Programs that comprise the largest source of welfare spending are Social Security and Medicare – both of which are not exclusively for low-income families. As a result, while welfare spending has increased over time, it has done so without having the needed impact on inequity. In 2010, only 36 percent of transfer payments (a form of government assistance went to low-income households, compared to 54 percent in 1979. 

Tax policies have also exacerbated rates of inequity to benefit more affluent households – in 1979, top income earners were taxed at 70 percent, compared to just 35 percent in 2012. The report also attributes the stagnant federal minimum wage and the “soaring” executive compensation to worsening inequality. The minimum wage peaked in 1968 before subsequently losing purchasing power over time and has remained at $7.25 since 2009. If it had kept up with inflation, it would be almost $11 today.

This report highlights concerns that many others have outlined regarding the detriments of rising inequality in the United States. However, policymakers can improve economic opportunity by re-examining tax policies and government programs and making changes aimed at improving outcomes for people living on the lower-end of the income scale. One possible policy solution, raising the minimum wage to $10.10, has been an issue of debate at the federal level. The research shows that by raising the federal minimum wage policymakers can lift 900,000 people out of poverty and increase wages for 28 million workers. There has been progress in some states to raise their minimum wages. California, Connecticut, DC, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont have all enacted legislation to incrementally increase the minimum wage to above $10 in their states.

For more information on reducing child poverty and increasing equity, read Results-Based Public Policy Strategies to Reduce Child Poverty

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability

All children need safe, nurturing and stimulating environments to thrive. Since about 61 percent of young children are regularly cared for outside of the home – by relatives, in day cares or at child care facilities – these settings have received increased attention over the years. Additionally, as a result of participating in high-quality early care and education programs, it has been shown that poor children experience positive social and emotional development and later school success. Increasing access to quality and early care and education is an effective strategy identified by CSSP for improving early grade-level reading

But access to high quality early childhood programs is a particular challenge for low-income and minority families who can neither find nor afford high quality opportunities in their communities. These families, especially those headed by single mothers, may find the costs associated with quality child care prohibitive. In some states, a single mom might spend well more than 20 or even 30 percent of her salary on childcare. Even in two parent households, this is a tough decision: is it worth it to find employment with such a large added expense as a result? For parents with low levels of education or criminal histories, for whom the labor market is not very forgiving, the answer to that might very well be no. Or, if they do work, parents are unable to pay much for child care and end up utilizing informal arrangements with relatives or friends.

So what can we do?   

With some relatively minor changes to the existing Child and Dependent Care Credit, Dr. James Ziliak of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, proposes a way to both support low-income workers and improve outcomes for children. Specifically, in a recent paper for the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, Dr. Ziliak proposes the following changes to the Child and Dependent Care Credit:

  1. Convert to a refundable credit
    • Refundable credit base of $4,000 for first child; $6,000 max
  2. Convert to a variable credit rate dependent on child age
    • Two categories: children under age 5 and children 5-12 years old
  3. Institute a household income limit at $70,000 annually
  4. Vary the credit by type of child-care provider
    • Two categories: licensed vs. unlicensed facilities

The benefits associated with these changes are profound in their simplicity. At the very basic level, offsetting the cost of child care through a refundable tax credit could encourage greater labor force participation by working parents. And while there are still limits to the amount which can be claimed under the proposed changes ($4,000 for the first child; $6,000 max) this would still increase the disposable income of low-income working families, leading to more resources for households with children. With such high levels of child poverty in this country, every little bit helps.

While the disposable income for families would increase, the proposed Child and Dependent Care Credit would be dedicated funds to cover the cost of child care. Varying the credit by child age and provider type, provides  parents with more reimbursement for expenses related to center-based child care – 100% for children under five years old – as opposed to informal home-based arrangements. This movement of children into high-quality centers will result in improved cognitive development and early learning.

The proposed changes would make the Child and Dependent Care Credit a progressive tax and redirect tax expenditures from the top of the income bracket towards the bottom in such a way that directly addresses the issue of income inequality.  This in turn creates the opportunity for upward mobility for low-income families by making work more convenient for the parents and high-quality center-based child care more affordable for the children. 

For more information on ways to support early healthy development read the CSSP report Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Supporting Early Healthy Development or visit

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability

Access to Paid Leave

· Natasya Gandana

Supportive work policies are essential in ensuring the economic security of families. Paid leave – which allows parents to provide and care for their family in times of need - is an example of good public policy since it provides income replacement to workers on leave for family caregiving, bonding with a new child or personal leave taken to recover from a serious health condition without the possible threat of losing their jobs. In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, it is important for policymakers to acknowledge the benefits fathers can have in the development of their child. 

Currently, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees – including dads –  up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave a year and entitles employees to return to their same or equivalent job at the end of their leave. However, including a paid aspect to this legislation can alleviate the financial burden of taking leave, since unpaid leave is concentrated among low-wage jobs. As a result of this, many people on the lower end of the financial spectrum are at higher risks of lost wages and jobs.

An issue brief by the Center for Law and Social Policy highlights the disparate access to paid leave.

  • 64 percent of white workers have paid sick days, while 62 percent of black workers, and only 47 percent of Latino workers have access.
  • Half of all white workers have paid parental leave, while 43 percent of black workers and just 25 percent of Latino workers have access.

These statistics strongly demonstrate the need for addressing issues with an equity lens, since the research highlights the racial gaps in access.

Without paid leave, negative consequences can also impact children, since the first few months of a baby’s life is the most crucial for healthy development. According to Zero To Three, the human brain is far more impressionable in early life than in maturity. For caregivers, this time period is critical for bonding and relationship building. Parents without access to paid leave have limited time to spend with their newborn before having to return to work, and the research can imply that disparities in access to paid leave can result in disparities in development. This can mean that children with low-income parents face even greater obstacles to escaping poverty beginning at birth.  

Families are often forced to make an impossible decision between choosing work and caring for their loved ones. And they shouldn’t have to. Policies that address this problem can help to improve the lives of millions of working families and children, and can help to contribute to more equitable outcomes in low-income and minority households.

For more information on promoting financial success through supportive work/family policies, please visit our section on PolicyforResults or read our corresponding report on Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Reducing Child Poverty

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability

The New America Foundation recently hosted a panel, Locked Up and Locked Out, to discuss the barriers that male ex-offenders face when leaving prison. The panel highlighted the issues and the policy implications that prevent men from finding meaningful work and being able to financially contribute to their families after exiting prison. Most significantly, the panel emphasized how policymakers can play an important role in supporting men recently released from prison by increasing their access to opportunities to successfully reintegrate back into society.

The most prominent issue discussed on the panel is the lack of available supports, such job placement and housing, for recently released ex-offenders. Research shows this is what often leads to the high rates of recidivism. In addition, the panel highlighted the issue that anti-poverty policies are often designed more for women and children, such as prenatal care, drug treatment, etc.

According to the panel, an essential support that is not provided to men leaving prison is an official form of identification. Men usually do not have the benefit of leaving prison with an identification card or driver’s license, which ultimately makes it more challenging to obtain work or make the preparations necessary for reintegration. To make matters more difficult, men are also not informed of their release date beforehand and have a limited amount of time to make arrangements before leaving prison. Finding a place to stay and meeting basic needs are nearly impossible. Include debts that were incurred during prison, such as child support and costs to administrative fees for parole agents- and the barriers can be insurmountable.

With a criminal record, the opportunities provided to these men are extremely limited. Since employers have wide discretion in hiring ex-offenders, jobs are in short supply. When a job is available, it is often at a minimum wage rate that would not be sufficient enough to cover the cost of living. Consequently, the panel discussed the harsh reality of how many ex-offenders are forced to find alternative ways to survive in an underground economy, such as selling t-shirts and other miscellaneous items- which do not contribute to the larger economy- to a more extreme example of selling illegal substances. Combined with the barriers in finding meaningful work and without the soft skills necessary, the underground economy has been a proven way of survival. As quoted by Joseph T. Jones, Jr.; President and Founder of the Center for Urban Families, “The street will always be there.” According to the Center for Urban Families, the economics of the drug trade in Maryland alone are so lucrative that it equates to a $16 billion industry annually.

The obstacles ex-offenders experience after leaving prison can be discouraging without the proper supports in place to ensure job placements, housing and basic needs. Policymakers should prioritize this issue by implementing policies from proven state examples. provides additional information on this important issue. The following are specific recommendations for promoting workforce strategies for reintegrating ex-offenders:

 1. Enhancing workforce preparation during incarceration

Without the soft skills necessary to obtain work, ex-offenders have more difficulty reintegrating back into society. The labor force has grown increasingly more competitive, and individuals need marketable skills to secure a job and maintain employment. Recently, the GED has been revised to include additions that have made it more difficult for adults to obtain. Obstacles such as these inhibit the ability for ex-offenders to better themselves.  

2. Improve placement services

Policymakers can help to promote effective placement services for reintegrating ex-offenders by incentivizing employers who hire ex-offenders and expanding state partnerships with employers to help provide ex-offenders with an opportunity to find meaningful work.

3. Remove barriers to employment for ex-offenders

Policymakers can play an important role in removing barriers to employment for ex-offenders by pushing initiatives, such as Ban the Box, to prevent employers from unfairly requesting an applicant’s criminal history. In many circumstances, these records are not relevant for the position and should not have any consideration in the hiring process.

4. Improve access to work supports

Transportation, healthcare and affordable housing are just a few necessary supports that ex-offenders have difficulty obtaining. Many states revoke driver’s licenses for ex-offenders which prevent them from finding and maintaining work. Access to healthcare is essential to work preparation and has been shown to reduce recidivism. Lastly, access to affordable housing presents the greatest challenge for ex-offenders. Policymakers can alleviate the difficulties ex-offenders face in finding a place to live by eliminating “one strike and you’re out” rules that ban ex-offenders from public housing.

These recommendations can help to give ex-offenders a second chance without having to be forced into an underground way of survival. Policymakers should prioritize providing ex-offenders with the supports and services they need to find and maintain employment to reduce the recidivism rates.

For more information, please visit

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability

The Center for the Study of Social Policy is proud to announce a new section on and a corresponding report, Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Reducing Child Poverty, which highlight important strategies states can utilize to improve the economic strains for families and children living in poverty. The report discusses the implications of poverty on every aspect of a child and family’s life that can hinder positive adolescent and adult outcomes. Children growing up in poverty are exposed to a variety of risk factors, including inadequate nutrition, substandard housing and untreated illness that can affect  their cognitive, social and emotional development.

In the report, CSSP focuses on four primary policy areas for reducing child poverty with detailed policy strategies within each primary area of focus. The four areas of focus include recommendations to support policymakers to:

  1. improve supports for families and their children by strengthening the safety net
  2. promote family financial success through supportive work/family policies
  3. provide supports for families with multiple barriers
  4. invest in young children

In addition to the report, CSSP is excited to share this resource as an interactive tool that presents data and trends. Through this tool, information is readily available to be viewed for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Concrete strategies and useful background information related to the importance of reducing child poverty are also available

The information in this section is designed to inform policymakers in their efforts to ensure that all families have access to a strong safety net and supports and services that can minimize hardships.

Visit to learn more.

Posted In: Poverty and Economic Stability
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