Policy For Results Blog Feed http://www.afscme.org/rss/blog PolicyForResults.org Blog Tue, 3 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 Behind The Poverty Number: The 2014 American Community Survey Data & Three Cities https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/behind-the-poverty-numbers-the-2014-american-community-survey-data-three-cities Thu, 17 Sep 2015 18:14:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/behind-the-poverty-numbers-the-2014-american-community-survey-data-three-cities According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) released on September 16th, 46.7 million people, or 14.8 percent of the country, lived in poverty in 2014. (For more information and analysis, see Supporting Families in Deep Poverty, CSSP’s statement on the 2014 CPS). The 2014 CPS data disturbingly showed that more than 20 million people - almost 45 percent of the poor - are living in “deep poverty”, families whose household income is less than half of the federal poverty line. For a family of three in 2014, deep poverty equated to living with an annual income below $9,425. Families living in deep poverty are more likely to remain poor year after year than other poor people, and face multiple, persistent challenges. Further, large racial and ethnic disparities continue to exist for families who lives in poverty, as Black and Hispanic or Latino families continue to experience disproportionally higher rates of both poverty and deep poverty than White families.

While the national data provide an important window into poverty and well-being in the U.S., it is often difficult to understand the data in terms of its community impact. Poverty rates in communities can vary significantly from the rate for the country as a whole. Importantly, the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS) data, which was released today, provides us with a more detailed look at how families are faring economically in different parts of the country.

CSSP believes that place matters and strongly impacts a wide range of factors, such as health and safety and access to quality educational and employment opportunities that are crucial to the well-being of children and their families. Our work allows us the chance to partner with communities across the nation that are striving to overcome significant challenges due to years of disinvestment and neglect. For these reasons, we used the 2014 ACS data to take a closer look at deep poverty in three cities - Baltimore, Fresno and Indianola - and who is most likely to experience it.[i] These three cities, along with others across the country, are taking a more comprehensive approach to addressing challenges to child and family well-being through initiatives like Promise Neighborhoods and the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program.

Baltimore, Maryland is home to Promise Heights, an FY12 federal Promise Neighborhoods planning grantee focused on building a cradle-to-career pipeline of programs, services, and supports for the young people living in the Upton/Druid Heights community. Baltimore faced a poverty rate of 23.6 percent in 2014. While recent conversations about racial justice in Baltimore have focused on the relationship between the city’s police department and the communities it is serving, what has received less scrutiny are the racial disparities with respect to deep poverty. In Baltimore, 13.7 percent of Blacks, compared with 7.3 percent of Whites were in deep poverty, with incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty line during 2014.

Fresno, California is one of four cities participating in the federal Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, an inter-agency initiative that seeks to catalyze community-driven change in neighborhoods that have historically faced barriers to revitalization. Last year in Fresno both the poverty and deep poverty rates were more than twice the national rates at 30.5 percent and 14.1, respectively. Here too the burdens of poverty disproportionately impacted people of color, with 16.2 percent of the Hispanic or Latino population living in deep poverty compared with 8.2 percent of Whites.

Indianola, Mississippi is home to the Indianola Promise Community, one of only two federal Promise Neighborhoods implementation grantees that are working to link schools, other educational opportunities, and health and support services for children and families in a rural setting. The poverty rate in Indianola is more than twice the national poverty rate, 36.1 percent. While Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the country, even within the state there are significant disparities across racial lines – in Indianola, 43.9 percent of Blacks lived in poverty compared with 11.7 percent of Whites. Even greater disparities exist when looking at deep poverty, with 19.1 percent of Blacks living below 50 percent of the poverty line - a figure that is more than five times higher than the comparable rate, 3.4 percent, for Whites.


The ACS data released today offers a powerful tool for developing a more nuanced understanding of how poverty is experienced in different communities across our nation. It also reveals important disparities in rates of poverty by different racial and ethnic groups who live within the same community. These data should be used to help craft smarter policies and provide greater access to benefits and resources for the families - particularly those living in deep poverty - who are most in need.

[i] A note about the data used in this statement: Data for “Fresno City, California” and “Baltimore City, Maryland” were accessed from the 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Data for the “Indianola, MS Micro Area” were accessed from the 2009 – 2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the latest data set for which the specified data points were available. “Black” references ACS data for individuals who identified themselves as “Black or African American”; “Hispanic or Latino” references data for individuals who identified themselves as “Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race)”; and “White” references data for individuals who identified themselves as “White alone, not Hispanic or Latino”.

2014 Poverty Data: What New Data from the U.S. Census Tells Us about Deep Poverty, Income and Equity in America https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/2014-poverty-data-what-new-data-from-the-u-s-census-tells-us-about-deep-poverty-income-and-equity-in-america Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:18:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/2014-poverty-data-what-new-data-from-the-u-s-census-tells-us-about-deep-poverty-income-and-equity-in-america 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 PolicyforResults.org.


The Family Stability and Kinship Care Act of 2015 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/the-family-stability-and-kinship-care-act-of-2015 Fri, 07 Aug 2015 09:55:06 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/the-family-stability-and-kinship-care-act-of-2015 On Wednesday, August 5th, Senator Wyden introduced the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act of 2015.  The purpose of the Act is to allow states the flexibility to use federal Title IV-E funds to provide services to children and families with the intent of preventing the need for foster care and/or limiting the time children spend in out-of-home care.  The bill will allow agencies to use Title IV-E dollars to implement and provide time-limited community-based services for families to prevent the placement of children in out-of-home care, support reunification efforts, and expand supports to kinship caregivers. 

The philosophy behind this bill is that children experience better outcomes when they are raised in families, particularly their own family, whenever safe for the child and that placement in out-of-home care should be temporary.  Given the importance of stability and the trauma that results from separation from one’s parent, it is important to incentivize the use of kinship care when children cannot remain safely with their parents.  Currently Title IV-E provides funding for states and tribes to support children and families after children have been placed in foster care. However, there are very limited resources available for funding services that may prevent the need for foster care or reduce the time children spend in out-of-home care despite growing knowledge and research that highlights the importance of family and community connections, keep families together whenever possible and expediting reunification when possible.

 The services that this bill will allow for Title IV-E to cover will have to be used and justified as services that support family preservation, family reunification or kinship care.  Additionally, states will be required to submit a five-year plan outlining how they plan to use and monitor the time-limited family service money. The services that will be provided, should this act pass, could include individual, group and family counseling, supports to address domestic abuse, substance abuse, and concrete and immediate needs like child care and assistance with transportation, housing, and utility expenses and other resources directly related to family preservation and reunification as well as to ensure supportive kinship placements. Children and families would be eligible to receive these services for 12 months if the child is at imminent risk of entering or re-entering foster care if but for the services provided. The bill also requires that the Title IV-E dollars be spent on evidence-based, evidence-informed and promising programs and services, which allows for cultural adaptations and modifications.

  Senator Wyden, in his opening statement on the finance hearing on preserving families and reducing the need for foster care, commented that this bill “is in not in any way a condemnation of foster care” but instead, is about giving some of our most vulnerable citizens the supports that they need to thrive within their own families.  The Family Stability and Kinship Care Act has the potential to support states and tribes in significantly reducing the need for congregate and foster care by supporting families through a multi-generational approach and front-end services.  For these reasons, The Family Stability and Kinship Care Act of 2015 has received bi-partisan support from its conception and, if passed, could have far reaching impacts on children and families.

Alternatives to Congregate Care Discussed in Senate Committee on Finance Hearing https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/alternatives-to-congregate-care-discussed-in-senate-committee-on-finance-hearing Fri, 07 Aug 2015 09:49:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/alternatives-to-congregate-care-discussed-in-senate-committee-on-finance-hearing The Senate Committee on Finance hearing held on August 4th, entitled A Way Back Home: Preserving Families and Reducing the Need for Foster Care, focused on strategies to decrease reliance on group home placements in foster care systems across the nation. Despite consensus among multiple stakeholders that children are best served in a family setting, children in foster care spent an average of 8 months in congregate care and comprised 14% of the foster care population in 2014.

To address the lack of federal policy regarding state overreliance on congregate care, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) opened the hearing noting that the current system often results in expensive, inappropriate, and detrimental experiences for those it touches. While reflecting on similar testimony heard in May, he likened the continual funding and overreliance on group home placement in foster care to “using taxpayer dollars to buy cigarettes” for foster youth. Chairman Hatch further highlighted the need to direct federal funds toward preventative front- and back-end services to allow as many children as possible to safely remain at home and return home as quickly and safely as possible.

Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) emphasized the difficult choices child welfare workers often have to make, commenting that sometimes the supports needed to keep a family safely together are not always available. Using Oregon’s Differential Response strategy as a model of successful reform, he stressed the importance of moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach by adding an alternate response track: a primary strategy in addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities in child welfare. Referencing the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act, which he will introduce this week, Ranking Member Wyden stressed the importance of national child welfare reform to adopt an approach similar to Oregon’s, allowing as many families as possible to stay together.

Subsequently, the committee heard from five witnesses on issues pertaining to the use of group homes in foster care and the lack of preventative supports and services. Sandra Killett, Parent Advocate and Executive Director of Child Welfare Organizing Project, drew upon her personal experience as a parent affected by the lack of appropriate front-end supports in New York’s child welfare system. While waitlisted for home-based therapeutic intervention per her own independent requests, Ms. Killett was investigated for child abuse and her eldest son was placed in foster care. This resulted in further negligence of her son’s mental health needs, as he received no therapeutic intervention while in care. She stressed the importance of home-based therapy, and noted it would have helped her family avoid the trauma of separation. Accordingly, Ms. Killett offered three recommendations addressing the lack of care she experienced, including the realigning of funds to support prevention and early intervention services, utilizing a non-punitive approach to keep children at home, and partnering with parents to work together at all stages of involvement with the child welfare and court systems.

Ms. Rosalina Burton, a former foster youth from California and mental health worker at a residential facility for foster youth, also spoke from personal experience. Highlighting the racial disparities seen in behavioral healthcare – for example, people of color are more likely to experience life stressors linked to mental health disorders but are less likely to receive high quality, culturally competent care – Ms. Burton described how these trends can affect individuals and families. Spending twelve years in and out of foster placements and ultimately aging out of congregate care, she spoke about the importance of addressing mental health and substance abuse issues across multiple generations. Ms. Burton promoted intensive individual and family therapy as well as financial assistance as beneficial interventions, speculating that they might have been pivotal in successfully reunifying her and her family. She further shared that her mother spent time in foster care as well and would have likely benefitted from working through her own childhood trauma with such preventative and therapeutic supports, had they been available.

Executive Director for Generations United, Ms. Donna Butts, similarly focused on the need to increase supports for those not “officially” in care. Specifically, she stressed four recommendations in the areas of kinship care and prevention. These included streamlining the notification given to relatives when children are removed from parents’ care, decreasing barriers in foster care licensure processes for kinship caregivers, increasing preventative intervention efforts and available resources, and focusing on trauma-informed care or therapeutic supports for kinship families. Given that family, friends and neighbors provide the most prevalent form of substitute care for children from birth to school-age, decreasing barriers to their participation in child welfare protocols and case planning is a natural adjustment in increasing family engagement and kinship placements.

Mr. Chuck Nyby, Differential Response Operations and Policy Analyst for the Child Welfare Program in Oregon’s Department of Human Services, and Ms. Ann Silverberg Williamson, Executive Director of Utah’s Department of Human Services, both spoke about the targeted methods their agencies have employed to achieve positive outcomes in their states. The current approaches to child welfare in Oregon and Utah both embrace flexibility and a focus on preventative, family-centered intervention. Mr. Nyby elaborated on Oregon’s Differential Response system, which places high importance on keeping children in the least-restrictive setting and has enhanced the quantity and quality of services offered through matching funds from Title IV-E waiver savings. Likewise, Ms. Williamson offered several strengths to take from Utah’s approach to child welfare, including investing Title IV-E waiver dollars into their HomeWorks program. Ms. Williamson provided several outcomes highlighting the rationale behind these interventions, noting that Utah has one of the lowest rates of entry into foster care and one of the highest rates of adoption.

Following their testimony, witnesses responded to questions ranging from suspected impact on human sex trafficking – in which nearly 60% of victims are foster youths – to broad inquiries into best practices for nationwide implementation. Witnesses reaffirmed the importance of using evidence-based assessments to evaluate risk in family-centered ways, encouraging family engagement, promoting family partnerships, and increasing supports for front-line intervention.   

In addition to Ranking Member Wyden’s upcoming Family Stability and Kinship Care Act, two other bills – the Family Based Foster Care Services Act and the upcoming All Kids Matter Act – highlight a general focus of child welfare reform among committee members. With budgetary debates on the horizon, the emphasis on family-based and preventative services in child welfare is a welcome and overdue congressional priority. The flexible, proactive, and family-focused recommendations discussed at the hearing would allow states to implement more individualized and culturally appropriate supports. Given the current racial disproportionality seen more generally in preventative care, removing these barriers within child welfare is a necessary step in achieving greater equity. 

Children with Disabilities: Implications within Child Welfare https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/children-with-disabilities-implications-within-child-welfare Fri, 17 Jul 2015 14:57:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/children-with-disabilities-implications-within-child-welfare This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA is an equal opportunity law that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as others – namely, the ability to find employment, purchase goods and services, and participate in government programs. There have been steady accomplishments in disability rights over the past 25 years, with increased access to employment and infrastructure.

Yet, over 40 million Americans with disabilities continue to face disparities in socioeconomic status, education levels, access to healthcare, and overall well-being. Advocacy for veterans, youth in public schools or on playgrounds, senior citizens, and rural residents with disabilities are just a few of the communities that have organized around specific concerns targeting the needs of those with disabilities, leading to slow but continual progress toward widespread ADA compliance.

Such focused efforts are becoming increasingly necessary for youth with disabilities in child welfare, who often experience compounding factors that can interact to create worse outcomes. Although many foster youth have disabilities, multiple moves, school changes, and inconsistent adult advocacy for comprehensive and appropriate services means their specific needs are often overlooked.

Children with disabilities are over-represented in child welfare: it is estimated that 4% of children in the US have either a mental or physical disability, compared to 11% of those who enter the child welfare system. In addition to experiencing maltreatment at a rate between 1.68 and 3.44 times that of their peers, children with disabilities are at least 1.5 times more likely to be seriously harmed by the abuse or neglect experienced, leading to greater risk of involvement in child welfare. Although children with disabilities are not identified in crime statistic systems – making national trends difficult to measure – several studies have found that behavioral disorders and speech/language disorders each increase risk for physical abuse and neglect, respectively. This lack of consistent data represents a major barrier to designing, implementing, and evaluating prevention programs and services for this population.

Nevertheless, the data gathered from the National Youth in Transition Database in 2010 has provided some insight about foster youth receiving independent living services: among adolescents in foster care, about 40% have disabilities, and children with disabilities have worse outcomes than other foster youth. Older youth with disabilities are more likely to experience longer lengths of stay in out-of-home placements and higher rates of placement instability, and their transition plans are less likely to include goals for careers, independent living, or post-secondary education. A lack of child welfare involvement in special education planning, inconsistent advocate presence, and a lack of educational individualization based on the needs of foster youth in general may contribute, but information remains limited.

These trends become even more concerning when considering the disparities already experienced by youth of color and LGBTQ youth within child welfare, including overlapping systemic barriers, increased rates of placement in congregate care settings, and discrimination. For youth with disabilities who also identify as LGBTQ, a member of a racial or ethnic minority, or both, the effect is likely a combined “double burden.” This intersectional impact remains understudied, however, perpetuating the lack of awareness and lack of targeted programs and policies to better meet the needs of youth in state care.

As discussions of equity continue to shed light on the human experiences of those in often oppressed communities, the unique experiences of youth with disabilities in child welfare offer a vital, and often overlooked, perspective. Consciously including the needs and obstacles faced by foster youth with disabilities is a necessary addition to the conversation as we now move into the ADA’s 26th year.

LGBTQ Rights in Child Welfare Systems: The Every Child Deserves a Family Act https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/lgbtq-rights-in-child-welfare-systems-the-every-child-deserves-a-family-act Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:39:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/lgbtq-rights-in-child-welfare-systems-the-every-child-deserves-a-family-act Introduced in both houses of Congress on May 19, 2015, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (S.1382 and H.R.2449) would prohibit discrimination in federally-funded adoption or foster care placements based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of youth and prospective parents. Increasing the pool of potential foster or adoptive parents while encouraging equitable practices in the field, proponents hope the bill will better meet the needs of nearly 400,000 children in foster care across the US.

It is estimated that LGBTQ youth account for between 4% and 10% of the national foster youth population, and as many as 70% of the LGBTQ youth in group homes reported that they have suffered violence based on their LGBT status. Furthermore, 100% of the LGBTQ youth in foster group homes reported verbal harassment based on their sexual orientations or gender identities, and 78% were removed or ran away from their placement as a result. Between 25% and 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ community members, and over half of homeless youth have spent some time in foster care.

Twenty states currently have explicit laws protecting the rights of youth in foster care from discrimination based on sexual orientation, thirteen of which also protect against discrimination based on gender identity. However, religious or moral exemption laws have been proposed in several states this year, which would allow placements of youth to be guided by the religious beliefs of agencies and staff. In combination with the lack of nationally-explicit anti-discriminatory laws, these policies are limiting placement options for youth in care.

Bills like The Every Child Deserves a Family Act offer a supportive message to youth within the child welfare system on a national scale and serve as an important first step in the wide-ranging goal of achieving “normalcy” for LGBTQ youth in foster care. In California, for example, LGBTQ youth in foster care experience 18% more placements and are more likely to live in a group home setting than non-LGBTQ youth in foster care. By impacting the federal funding requirements for agencies across the nation, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act could help ensure these children – and those seeking to adopt or foster them – are given the same opportunities as their non-LGBTQ peers. 

Update on MIECHV Program Extension https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/update-on-miechv-program-extension Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:30:39 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/update-on-miechv-program-extension 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.

CSSP's New Report Highlights Strategies to Reduce Racially Disparate Outcomes in Child Welfare https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/cssps-new-report Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:09:48 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/cssps-new-report The Center for the Study of Social Policy’s newest report, Strategies to Reduce Racially Disparate Outcomes in Child Welfare, documents the efforts underway in 12 states and localities to tackle the enduring problem of African American, Native American and Latino families faring worse than others being served by the child welfare systems.

The publication, produced by CSSP as part of the work of the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, updates a similar “national scan” produced nearly a decade ago covering the promising practices to address racial disproportionality in child welfare. In many states and localities across the country, there are proportionately more children of color who are referred to child- and family-serving institutions; they have longer stays in foster care, and are more likely to be placed in congregate care placements. Moreover, youth of color typically face even more challenges as they age out of child welfare systems.

All of this work is done within the context of federal, state and local efforts to improve outcomes for all children and families involved with child welfare systems. However, as attention to the disparate outcomes achieved for African American, Native American and in some places Latino children and youth has grown, state and county systems have turned to innovative uses of legislative mandates and data analysis to spark more work to more fully understand and eliminate disparities, drive decision-making and system improvements and to pinpoint exactly where the problems are occurring.

In addition, states are deepening their training, workforce development and capacity-building activities so that frontline workers possess a greater understanding of these issues. States are also taking on new partners—from schools to judges to pastors—to hasten the pace of eliminating disparities. Engagement with tribal governments has improved as have community-engagement efforts to bridge gaps in understanding between families and child- and family-serving systems.

The publication highlights efforts underway in Connecticut; Idaho; Illinois; Iowa; Kentucky; Michigan; Minnesota state and Ramsey County in Minnesota; New York; Oregon; Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Texas; and Utah.

Read the report here: Strategies to Reduce Racially Disparate Outcomes in Child Welfare by Oronde Miller and Amelia Esenstad

Challenges Faced By Homeless LGBTQ Youth in Surviving the Streets https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/challenges-faced-by-homeless-lgbtq-youth-in-surviving-the-streets Wed, 25 Mar 2015 09:20:49 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/challenges-faced-by-homeless-lgbtq-youth-in-surviving-the-streets Urban Institute recently publish a unique look into survival sex, a strategy used by many young people in order to survive while living on the streets of New York City. Meredith Dank, author and Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute, conducted a three-year study of LGBTQ youth in partnership with New York City-based organization Streetwise and Safe (SAS) using interviews with 283 youth who engaged in survival sex, defined as receiving payment in the form of cash or other in-kind payment in exchange for sex and trades, in New York City.

Recently, the Center for the Study of Social Policy hosted a webinar, Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex, as a platform for Dank to share her findings with the field. The webinar highlighted interviews with youth who shared personal stories of engaging in survival sex. These youth stories share common themes of social and familial discrimination and rejection, familial dysfunction and poverty, physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation and emotional and mental trauma.

Dank’s research found that youth involved in survival sex faced significant challenges in stable housing and hunger and as a result, were introduced to - and became involved in - survival sex through friends and peers. In exchange for engaging in sexual activities, 88 percent of youth received money, 29 percent received shelter, and 19 percent received food. These findings highlight a gap in services and supports, including housing, mental health, and employment for LGBTQ youth who are pushed out of their homes due to rejection, suffered other means of trauma, and find themselves living on the streets.

In order to support this community of youth, the report highlights recommendations to ensure and support the safety of homeless LGBTQ youth:

  1. Develop accessible street-based and comprehensive drop-in services and peer-led outreach
  2. Improve safe and supportive short-term shelter, long-term affordable housing, and family-based placement options subject to periodic review
  3. Create a safe and supportive housing and placement protocols specific to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals
  4. Broaden access to and improve gender-affirming health care
  5. Adopt nondiscrimination, confidentiality, and complaint procedures in shelters, programs, and out-of-home placements
  6. Develop living-wage employment opportunities
  7. Improve food security among LGBTQ youth
  8. Design policy training curricula to improve relationships with LGBTQ youth and decrease profiling, harassment, and abuse

To view an archived version of the webinar, click here.

For more information on how to support LGBTQ youth, please visit CSSP’s getREAL section on our website. 

Protective and Promotive Factors for Families with Gender Non-conforming Children and Youth https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/protective-and-promotive-factors-for-families-with-gender-non-conforming-children-and-youth Wed, 18 Mar 2015 09:43:17 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/protective-and-promotive-factors-for-families-with-gender-non-conforming-children-and-youth Transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth are often stigmatized for their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Research shows that the impact of bias and rejection from family, peers and community institutions based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression can increase the risk of poorer outcomes for transgender youth. These biases and active rejection from family and community can lead to physical and emotional abuse, homelessness and involvement in the child welfare system.

In addition to working with biological, adoptive, and foster families to promote the healthy development and well-being of all youth in care, it is essential to support and promote healthy development and well-being through engagement in developmentally and socially appropriate activities, as well as extracurricular opportunities. For youth in care who identify as transgender and gender non-conforming, it is critical that these activities and extracurricular opportunities allow for - and promote - safe and affirming environments.

Integrating protective and promotive factors into work with youth and families, communities, and programs can create environments that protect against risk factors and poor outcomes and promote strong and optimal development for children. Created by CSSP, the protective and promotive factors can help to better improve outcomes for transgender children, youth and their families.

Parental and youth resilience – managing stress and functioning well when faced with challenges, adversity, and trauma.

Social connections positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental, and spiritual support.

Knowledge of parenting and child/adolescent development understanding child or adolescent development and parenting strategies that support physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development.

Concrete support in times of need access to concrete support and services that address a youth or family’s needs and help to minimize stress caused by challenges.

Social and emotional competence family interactions that help children or youth develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions and establish and maintain relationships.

The protective and promotive factors are integrated into both CSSP’s Strengthening Families (focused on families) and Youth Thrive (focused on youth) initiatives. Please visit our Strengthening Families and Youth Thrive sections on our website for more information on the protective and promotive factors.  

For more information on LGBTQ youth in care, please visit our get R.E.A.L. section on our website. 


The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program in Helping Low-Income Families https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/the-maternal-infant-and-early-childhood-home-visiting-program-in-helping-low-income-families Wed, 11 Mar 2015 16:00:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/the-maternal-infant-and-early-childhood-home-visiting-program-in-helping-low-income-families The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced $386 million in grant awards to states, territories and nonprofit organizations to support the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. These funds will allow states to continue expanding voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children.

Since 2010, the Home Visiting Program has supported more than 1.4 million visits in over 700 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. The program targets communities with high teen birth rates, low birth weights, high infant mortality rates and high rates of poverty. The program is especially beneficial for families facing a range of economic and social challenges that have children up to age 5 – nearly 80 percent of families participating in the program have household incomes at or below the 100 percent Federal Poverty Level. 

The Home Visiting Program allows a nurse, social worker or early childhood educator to make home visits beginning during pregnancy and continuing through the first years of the baby’s life. These visits benefit families by promoting healthy child development, increasing school readiness and building parental capacity through positive parenting. In addition, the voluntary program provides families with advice, guidance and help navigating and accessing health, social service and child development professionals.

While the most recent HHS funding award will allow states to expand these services, the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program is currently set to expire on March 31, 2015. An expansion of the program, which is part of the President’s Early Learning Initiative, is included in the current FY16 budget at $500 million in FY16 and $15 billion over the next ten years. In considering the benefits of the Home Visiting Program, continued federal support of the program can allow states to help even more families and their young children.  

For the full press release, please click here.

New Report Calls for 60 percent Reduction in Child Poverty https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/new-report-calls-for-60-percent-reduction-in-child-poverty Thu, 19 Feb 2015 09:27:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/new-report-calls-for-60-percent-reduction-in-child-poverty 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.

Aligning Resources and Results: The President’s FY 2016 Budget https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/aligning-resources-and-results-the-presidents-fy-2016-budget Mon, 02 Feb 2015 16:52:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/aligning-resources-and-results-the-presidents-fy-2016-budget Yesterday, President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget, outlining the administration’s policy agenda and budget requests for federal spending in the upcoming year. As the guide for every major spending and revenue decision, the President’s budget request is a significant policy vehicle for supporting children and families.

With the release of the President’s budget comes an opportunity to emphasize how policymakers can advance equity through the budget process at the federal level – but also through state and local budgets.

The President’s budget proposal includes notable efforts to increase equity by improving access to education, including dedicated funding for universal pre-kindergarten, increasing opportunities for low-income schools through Title I funding and tuition-free community college.

At the community level, the proposal introduces the Upward Mobility Project – a new initiative that will provide up to 10 communities with the opportunity to flexibly spend federal funding from four existing programs in an effort to invest in programs and resources that meet the specific needs of its residents. These investments – as well as a host of others – have the ability to promote equity and provide communities with the flexibility to create opportunities for low-income children and families.

In CSSP’s new brief “Aligning Resources and Results: Increasing Equity Through the Budget,” we highlight equitable budget strategies from Portland, Oregon; Chicago, Illinois; and an example from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As outlined in the brief, the President’s FY2016 budget includes funding for key programs that impact communities:

  • Preschool for All: $75 billion over 10 years
  • Preschool Development: $500 million
  • English Language Acquisition: $36 million
  • America’s College Promise: $1.36 billion
  • Promise Neighborhoods: $150 million
  • Choice Neighborhoods: $248 million
  • Community Development Block Grant: $2.8 billion
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program:  $21.1 billion

By proposing investments in programs like early child care and universal preschool, including tax credits for working families, the President’s FY2016 budget includes strategies to advance equity in the coming year. Making investments to advance equity is an important way to ensure all children and families have the opportunity to succeed.

For more information on the President’s FY2016 budget release, please read CSSP’s statement here

A Guide for States Implementing the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/a-guide-for-states-implementing-the-preventing-sex-trafficking-and-strengthening-families-act Thu, 13 Nov 2014 10:00:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/a-guide-for-states-implementing-the-preventing-sex-trafficking-and-strengthening-families-act Youth in foster care face obstacles in participating in enrichment activities that their peers often do not. However, it is important for youth in foster care to have the same opportunities to participate in healthy and appropriate activities, such as sports, extracurricular interests and attending school functions as their friends and classmates who are not in foster care.

CSSP’s newest brief, Promoting Well-Being through the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard: A Guide for States Implementing the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980), highlights the important role that states play in supporting the healthy development and well-being of youth in foster care. The brief provides policymakers and child welfare administrators with recommendations and successful state examples for implementing the prudent parenting standard in a way that promotes well-being for all youth in foster care and provides additional guidance for expectant and parenting youth and youth that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ).

To read CSSP’s policy recommendations, click here.

CSSP's Newest Brief: Expanding the EITC to Young Adults https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/cssps-newest-brief-expanding-the-eitc-to-young-adults Mon, 03 Nov 2014 10:10:41 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/cssps-newest-brief-expanding-the-eitc-to-young-adults 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. 

The 2013 Supplemental Poverty Measure https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/2013-supplemental-poverty-measure Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:31:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/2013-supplemental-poverty-measure 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.

Mental Health Care and Medicaid Expansion https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/mental-health-care-and-medicaid-expansion Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:13:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/mental-health-care-and-medicaid-expansion Families experience a number of obstacles when living in poverty, but one of the most significant may be staying healthy. Mental health issues affect millions of people nationwide, but for low-income families in particular, accessing the proper treatment and care is difficult. Fortunately for families and individuals that qualify for Medicaid, mental health services are covered through the program.

According to a report by the American Mental Health Counselors Association, mental illness is extremely prevalent among low-income people. Nationwide, 18 million adults between the ages of 18 to 64 who live without health insurance, and make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, suffer from mental health issues. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states have the option of whether or not to expand Medicaid eligibility within their states. If all states decided to expand Medicaid eligibility, these 18 million adults currently living on the brink of poverty would qualify for coverage and subsequently receive mental health treatment. Currently, there are 25 states that have yet to expand Medicaid, which unfortunately impacts the 4 million people with serious mental health issues living in those states.

Access to mental health treatment and services is also an equity issue, because the severity of mental health needs and access to treatment differ dramatically among people of color. Of the 25 states that have decided not to expand Medicaid, 11 are southern states with disproportionate number of uninsured people of color.   

The cost of Medicaid expansion to states is minimal. The federal government covers 100 percent of the costs of new Medicaid enrollees under new eligibility rules from 2014 through 2016, then tapers off to 90 percent until 2020, which leaves states with only 10 percent of the cost.

Providing coverage and treatment for mental illness is crucial for families, because treatment has demonstrated positive results. In many cases, mental health conditions that go untreated can turn into severe cases that result in visits to the emergency room, homelessness, or even jail and prison. Medicaid can play an important role in preventing and treating these individuals before their health worsens.

For more information on the ACA and Medicaid expansion, read our Policy for Results brief, Using the Affordable Care Act to Improve Well-Being Outcomes for Children & Families.

Improving Access to Child Care: The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/improving-access-to-child-care-the-child-care-and-development-block-grant-act-of-2014 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:49:50 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/improving-access-to-child-care-the-child-care-and-development-block-grant-act-of-2014 One two-generational approach to upward mobility is connecting child care programs to work support programs for parents. This allows parents to work toward support their family while their children can develop in a supportive environment. Access to high quality child care is critical aspect of this strategy.  

Last March, the Senate passed the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014. In late September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill under a special rule. The bipartisan bill would allow children to have more sustained access to child care and improve parents’ or guardians’ ability to work and advance in their jobs. The bill includes several provisions to support low-income, working families including:

  • Requiring that every child receiving CCDBG be eligible for 12 months regardless of changes in parent’s income or work status
  • Child care workforce training on best practices to meet the developmental needs of children
  • Preventing the use of child assessment for inappropriate high stakes

Informing parents to better understand quality choices in their community as well as access to developmental screening

  • Grouping funds to streamline overlapping early childhood programs

 Policymakers should consider ways to support working families through two-generational approaches.  Strengthening services and supports the meet the needs of both children and their caregivers is an important step toward improving family well-being. This includes investing in child and family programs and services that reduce risks and strengthen protective factors.

To learn more about ways to support working families read our report on reducing child poverty. To learn more about protective factors that ensure families can thrive – check out our protective factors framework

Good News! President Obama Signs Legislation to Fight Child Trafficking, Strengthen Child Welfare Protections https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/good-news-president-obama-signs-legislation-to-fight-child-trafficking-strengthen-child-welfare-protections Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:13:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/good-news-president-obama-signs-legislation-to-fight-child-trafficking-strengthen-child-welfare-protections Youth in foster care experience a number of challenges both while in care and upon emancipation. That’s why legislation that prioritizes normalcy standards, empowers youth in care and emphasizes family relationships is important to the overall well-being of these young people.

Earlier this week, the President signed into law, The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980). This legislation requires states to combat sex trafficking among youth in foster care and provide appropriate related services; collect data on instances of youth who were trafficked prior to, or while in foster care; promote normalcy for foster youth; empower youth in the development of their own transition case plan; and limits the use of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) as a permanency goal.

This legislation is an important step toward ensuring young people in foster care grow-up to be healthy, happy adults.  By mandating that youth be involved in their case plan and that foster parents use a “reasonable and prudent parent standard” for decisions related to caring for a child – including allowing young people to engage in extra-curricular, cultural and social activities, this legislation is well aligned with positive adolescent development. The bill also recognizes the importance of social connections, that young people should be connected to caring adults, by limiting the use of APPLA and requiring a judicial determination that APPLA is the best permanency plan at every permanency hearing. Child welfare agencies must continue to explore permanency options with family or non-relative resources.

In addition to the provisions outlined above, the legislation also reauthorizes the expansion of the adoption incentive program (Title II) and makes improvements to international child support recovery (Title III).

CSSP’s Youth Thrive initiative, is focused on supporting the healthy development and well-being of youth in foster care by focusing on the factors that mitigate risk and promote positive outcomes. These protective and promotive factors include youth resilience, social connections, knowledge of adolescent development, concrete support in times of need, and cognitive and social-emotional competence in youth. Policymakers at the state level interested in developing polices aimed at supporting healthy youth development should consider the impact of these factors.

For more information on H.R. 4980, please read a detailed summary created by the Children’s Defense Fund.

For more information on Youth Thrive, please visit CSSP’s website.

Using Preventive Legal Advocacy https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/using-preventive-legal-advocacy Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:59:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/using-preventive-legal-advocacy Promoting policies and programs to create child and family well-being are central to CSSP's mission. One of our central goals is to help systems and policymakers keep children safely at home and out of the foster care system whenever possible.

Effective preventive efforts can support families in meeting a range of needs to keep children safe and secure with their families. One of these needs is for legal representation.

Families involved with child welfare systems often have multiple legal as well as social service needs.  A new paper from CSSP entitled Case Closed: Addressing Unmet Legal Needs & Stabilizing Families, authored by University of Michigan Law Professor Vivek S. Sankaran and Martha L. Raimon, senior associate at CSSP, highlights multi-disciplinary programs that have demonstrated success at keeping families safe at home and avoiding the need for out-of-home placement.

Preliminary data suggest that these programs not only keep children safe, they also have the potential to save child welfare systems money by reducing the need to rely on costly foster care.

The core elements to the models are similar: families are provided with the assistance of an attorney, social worker and parent advocate to help resolve legal and social work issues which may affect the safety of their children. This collaborative, multi-disciplinary model helps a family navigate a complex process. For example, lawyers may file for a restraining order, file for guardianship, apply for public benefits or help with special education issues.  The social worker works with existing community partners to help the family connect with a network of local service providers. And a parent advocate, who has experienced the child welfare system, provides the parent with crucial information on how to successfully engage with public systems.

This paper is part of CSSP's work to highlight policy strategies that emphasize partnerships and innovative thinking to help children and families be safe, secure and successful.

What the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) Data Tells Us https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/what-the-2013-american-community-survey-data-tells-us Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:52:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/what-the-2013-american-community-survey-data-tells-us Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released the American Community Survey (ACS) data, which provides detailed information on demographic characteristics in cities and states. CSSP believes that place matters and strongly impacts the health, safety, educational and employment opportunities of children and families, so using the data released today, we looked closely into three places where our place-based initiatives are currently taking place in Washington, D.C., California, and Tennessee. 

What did we find? Read our statement for a detailed breakdown of the poverty rates and household incomes by race and ethnicity within these metropolitan areas. 

2013 Poverty Data: New Data from the U.S. Census on Poverty, Income, and Health Insurance. https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/2013-poverty-data-new-data-from-the-u-s-census-on-poverty-income-and-health-insurance Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:43:53 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/2013-poverty-data-new-data-from-the-u-s-census-on-poverty-income-and-health-insurance Earlier today, the U.S. Census Bureau released reports on the 2013 data on income, poverty and health insurance coverage. This year, the data showed promising improvements in the poverty rate. For the first time since 2006, the official poverty rate dropped to 14.5 percent (down from 15 percent in 2012). There was also a reduction in the child poverty rate, this is a significant change and the first time child poverty has been reduced in the past thirteen years.  While huge disparities continue to exist for Black and Hispanic families, the rate of poverty experienced by Hispanics was reduced and income increased.  The poverty rate for other racial and ethnic groups remained unchanged. The 2013 poverty rates among non-Hispanic Whites and Asians were 9.6 percent and 10.5 percent respectively, while the poverty rates for Blacks and Hispanics were 27.2 percent and 23.5 percent respectively.

Poverty and Income Data Highlights

  • Hispanics were the only group to experience a significant drop in their poverty rate down from 25.6 to 23.5 percent.
  • The poverty rate for children under 18 fell from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent- with 14.1 million children living in poverty.
  • The poverty rate for families fell to 11.2 percent from 11.8 percent.
  • The poverty rate for families with a female householder (no husband present) was 30.6 percent, while the poverty rate for families with a male householder (no wife present) was 15.9 percent.
  • The poverty rate for children in female-headed households was more than 5 times the rate for related children in married-couple families, 55.0 percent and 10.2 percent respectively.
  • The number of men and women working full time, year round with earnings increased by 1.8 million and 1.0 million respectively. The rate of fulltime year round workers went up from 71.1 percent to 72.7 percent for men and 59.4 percent up to 60.5 percent for women.

The Important Role of Public Policy in Supporting Children and Families. Refundable Tax Credits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program help families with basic needs and prevent some from living in worse circumstances than they would have otherwise. Their value is not calculated into the poverty rate. If it were, the number of people living in poverty would be reduced by 3 percent and 1.6 percent respectively. Social Security also has a significant impact on children and families reducing poverty by 8.5 percent.

Experts attribute the reduction in child poverty to the increase in full-time, year round workers, a number that increased by more than 1 million between 2012 and 2013.  In order to support these families diverse, multi-generational, anti-poverty strategies are needed. These multi-generational approaches must be designed in a way that promotes economic stability for the entire family – including educational opportunities and work supports for parents and high quality early care and education opportunities for children, housing, transportation and tax credits, but also supports to build strong parent child relationships and prevent toxic stress.

The Need for a Focus on Equity. The poverty data released today indicate significant racial disparities.  Black and Hispanic families have continued to have disproportionately higher poverty rates and lower incomes when compared to White families, which has been consistent for more than three decades. Child poverty rates fell for non-Hispanic whites, Asians and Hispanics between 2012 and 2013, but the poverty rates for Black children did not change during the same time period. White non-Hispanic children were responsible for about half of the reduction in the number of children in poverty. This inequity shows the need for innovative solutions and targeted public investments. Policy strategies should take into account the existence of disparate opportunities and outcomes—attention to equity creates solutions that best meet the needs of the entire community.

To read CSSP's Statement on the New Poverty Data and the Need for Multi-Generational Policy, click here.

For more strategies to Reduce child poverty read our related report or visit PolicyforResults.org.

CSSP Wins 2014 When Work Works Award https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/cssp-wins-2014-when-work-works-award Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:40:26 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/cssp-wins-2014-when-work-works-award The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is proud to announce it has been honored with the 2014 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success.

The Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced the 2014 winners of the When Work Works Awards, which recognize employers that have created effective workplaces based on six components: autonomy; work-life fit; supervisor support for work success; satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement; opportunities for learning; and a culture of trust.

The award is the result of a rigorous assessment. Worksites must first qualify in the top 20% of the country based on a nationally representative sample of employers. Two-thirds of the evaluation of applicants comes from an employee survey. Applicants are evaluated on six research-based ingredients of an effective workplace: opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work-life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement — all factors associated with employee health, well-being, and engagement.

A total of 284 workplaces won the award. Within the District of Columbia, CSSP joins KPMG, and USDA as the top three winners.

For more information about the award, read more here

Big Win for California: California’s Legislature Approves Paid Sick Leave! https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/big-win-for-california-californias-legislature-approves-paid-sick-leave Thu, 11 Sep 2014 10:05:06 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/big-win-for-california-californias-legislature-approves-paid-sick-leave Access to paid sick leave is an essential benefit for working families because it allows parents to care for their health, as well as the health of their children, without having to forfeit wages. California’s legislature recently approved paid sick days for California workers, which makes it the second state after Connecticut to provide this benefit to working families. The bill passed by the California legislature, AB 1522, provides employees with three paid sick days a year that are accrued at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked and will benefit at least 6.5 million private and public sector employees. Currently, there is no federal policy that allows workers to receive pay while taking sick days.

There are considerable equity issues related to workplace benefits. Minorities disproportionately lack access to paid sick leave. According to a report by the Center for Law and Social Policy, Latinos are the least likely population to have paid sick days – 64 percent of white workers have access to paid sick days compared to only 47 percent of Latino workers.

In addition to the important benefit to families, paid sick leave is a benefit to employers. Businesses are more successful when their workers are productive, healthy and have minimal rates of turnover. Without access to paid sick leave, many workers are forced to continue working while sick and prolong, or possibly pass along, their illness. Sick workers are not able to be as productive and can put the health and productivity of other workers and customers at risk. In low-wage jobs where turnover is highest, workers may have to quit without access to paid sick leave, which leads to additional costs for employers who must advertise, interview and train new hires.

State policymakers should follow California’s lead and promote more equitable and flexible work policies. Policies that provide benefits like paid sick leave support both healthy families and businesses by prioritizing the health of their workforce. For more information on promoting family financial success through supportive work and family policies, read our report on policyforresults.org.   

12 States Adopt the Option to Cover Foster Youth from Across State Lines! https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/12-states-adopt-the-option-to-cover-foster-youth-from-other-counties Wed, 03 Sep 2014 09:09:00 -0500 https://www.policyforresults.org/blog/12-states-adopt-the-option-to-cover-foster-youth-from-other-counties Research suggests that many young people in foster care have physical and mental health needs. As a result, it is important that young people in care are provided with comprehensive and coordinated health plans and services. In order to ensure a successful transition into adulthood, providing accessible health care services and coverage to youth is essential.  

A provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows for youth aging out of foster care to receive full Medicaid benefits until age 26 and gives states the option to provide coverage to these young people regardless of which state system the youth was previously in care. Since there are limited options for affordable health insurance for young people, and because data suggests that this population often experiences additional barriers to affordable care, this provision is an important policy to adopt in order to ensure young people can obtain the quality health care they need. 

In response to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, CSSP released a brief, The Affordable Care Act & Implications for Youth Aging out of Foster Care, to provide recommendations for state child welfare agencies in implementing the ACA regulations.  In our brief, you will find recommendations to increase access to health insurance for youth aging out of care, as well as opportunities to improve health outcomes for these youth by providing access to continuous and quality insurance. Among the recommendations, the brief included the importance of extending Medicaid benefits to former foster youth regardless of where the youth was in care.

Since the release of our brief, CSSP is happy to announce that 12 states are now allowing former foster care youth that aged out of care in another state to receive full health coverage. California, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Montana are now providing Medicaid benefits for former foster youth until age 26 from other counties with no income requirements. This allows former foster youth to pursue opportunities in other states, including attending college or taking a new job, without having to lose their healthcare benefits.

For more information on the ACA and youth aging out of care, read our brief here.

For more information on supporting youth transitioning from foster care, visit our report on PolicyforResults.