Research

Poverty and Inequality

Journal Articles
Resources

Contraception Use and Satisfaction Among Mothers with Low-Income: Evidence from the Baby’s First Years Study

Low income can lead to limited choice of and access to contraception. This study examined whether an unconditional cash transfer (UCT) impacts contraceptive use, including increased satisfaction with and reduced barriers to preferred methods, for individuals with low income. Receipt of monthly UCTs did not impact contraception methods, perceived barriers to use, or satisfaction.

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Resources
Working Papers

Education Gradients in Parental Time Investment and Subjective Well-Being

College-educated mothers spend substantially more time in intensive childcare than less educated mothers despite their higher opportunity cost of time and working more hours. This study looks at one reason this may be by testing the hypothesis that college-educated mothers enjoy childcare more.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Associations Between Maternal Stress and Infant Resting Brain Activity Among Families Residing in Poverty in the U.S.

Findings from this study suggest that, among families experiencing low economic resources, maternal reports of stress are associated with differences in patterns of infant resting brain activity during the first year of life.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Intergenerational Effects of a Family Cash Transfer on the Home Environment

A family cash transfer in childhood that had long-term effects on individual functioning did not impact the home environment of participants who became parents. Rather, parents in both groups were providing home environments generally conducive to their children’s growth and development.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Cross-Sector Intervention Strategies to Target Childhood Food Insecurity in North Carolina

Health care systems are increasingly prioritizing food insecurity interventions to improve health, but it is unclear how health systems collaborate with other sectors that are addressing food insecurity. This study evaluated existing collaborations and explore opportunities for further cross-sector engagement.

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Journal Articles
Resources

The Buffering Effect of State Eviction and Foreclosure Policies for Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred an economic downturn that may have eroded population mental health, especially for renters and homeowners at risk of housing loss. Findings show that individuals who reported difficulty keeping up with rent or mortgage had increased anxiety and depression risks but that state eviction/foreclosure bans weakened these associations.

read more about The Buffering Effect of State Eviction and Foreclosure Policies for Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States
Research Project

STEPS: Study of Teen Experiences that Promote Success

This project aims to advance research on the relationship between economic well-being, wealth, adolescent functioning and mental health.

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Journal Articles

The Role of Public and Private Food Assistance in Supporting Families’ Food Security and Meal Routines

“Backpack” food programs administered through public schools send non-perishable foods home with children to supplement school meals. Power Packs Project (PPP) is a unique backpack program, in that it provides fresh food. This study is the first to examine the effect of picking up a Power Pack in a given week on parent and child food insecurity and meal routines.

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Journal Articles

Day-to-day Variation in Adolescent Food Insecurity

Food insecurity among adolescents is not static but varies from day to day. This daily variation is greater for economically disadvantaged youth.

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Working Papers

Unconditional Cash Transfers for Families with Children in the U.S.: A Scoping Review

This paper reviews the economic research on U.S. safety net programs and cash aid to families with children and what existing studies reveal about its impacts on family investment mechanisms and children’s outcomes.

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Journal Articles

“It’s Like Night and Day”: How Bureaucratic Encounters Vary Across WIC, SNAP, and Medicaid

Research characterizes public assistance programs as stigmatizing and stressful (e.g., psychological costs) but obscures differences across programs or the features of policy design that contribute to varied bureaucratic encounters.

read more about “It’s Like Night and Day”: How Bureaucratic Encounters Vary Across WIC, SNAP, and Medicaid
Journal Articles

Net Worth Poverty and Adult Health

This study broadens the traditional focus on income as the primary measure of economic deprivation by providing the first analysis of wealth deprivation, or net worth poverty (NWP), and adult health.

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Research Brief
Resources

Practitioners in North Carolina’s TANF and Related Income Assistance Programs Offer Perspectives on Latino Families’ Experiences

This brief is part of a series to examine state-level policies that relate to social service and safety net programs and the ways in which state and federal policy implementation at the local level may affect the reach of program benefits among Latino families.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Earned Income Tax Credit Receipt By Hispanic Families With Children: State Outreach And Demographic Factors

In this study, researchers found that states’ granting of drivers’ licenses to undocumented people, availability of government information in Spanish, and employer mandates to inform employees were associated with higher EITC receipt among Hispanic families. These findings showcase ways in which information and outreach at the state level can support the equitable receipt of tax refunds and similar types of benefits distributed through the tax system.

read more about Earned Income Tax Credit Receipt By Hispanic Families With Children: State Outreach And Demographic Factors
Journal Articles

Parents as Earners: What Parental Work Means for Parenting and the Role of Public Policy

Lisa Gennetian and Anna Gassman-Pines’ chapter in The Cambridge Handbook of Parenting focuses on families with young children age 0-5 and considers the context of work and employment for parents, the role of child care and early education as supports for working parents, and the theoretical and empirical linkages between parents’ work contexts and parenting.

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Policy Briefs

How Charter Schools Undermine Good Education Policymaking

In this policy memo, Ladd argues that charter schools disrupt four core goals of education policy in the United States, namely: 1) establishing coherent systems of schools, 2) attending to child poverty and disadvantage, 3) limiting racial segregation and isolation, and 4) ensuring that public funds are spent wisely. Ladd offers policy recommendations to better meet these challenges.

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Journal Articles

Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Pandemic-Era Unemployment Insurance Access: Implications For Health And Well-Being

During the COVID-19 pandemic, workers not identifying as White non-Hispanic in our sample were more likely to get laid off than White workers. However, these workers were less likely than White workers to receive unemployment insurance at all. Among those who were laid off, these workers and White workers experienced similar increases in material and mental health difficulties and similar gains when they received unemployment insurance.

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Journal Articles

‘I don’t know nothing about that’: How “Learning Costs” Undermine COVID-Related Efforts to Make SNAP and WIC More Accessible.

Scholars have focused on administrative burden or the costs of claiming public benefits. Learning, psychological, and compliance costs can discourage program participation and benefit redemption. Although policy changes during COVID-19 were poised to reduce compliance costs and ease conditions that create redemption costs in each program, the learning costs of policy changes prevented many program participants from experiencing the benefits of these policy transformations.

read more about ‘I don’t know nothing about that’: How “Learning Costs” Undermine COVID-Related Efforts to Make SNAP and WIC More Accessible.
Journal Articles

Comprehensive Support and Student Success: Can Out of School Time Make a Difference?

The author investigates the effects of a multiyear program, StudentU, on the early high school outcomes of participating students by exploiting data from oversubscribed admissions lotteries. Results suggest that comprehensive services delivered outside of the regular school day have the potential to improve the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students.

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Policy Briefs

Net Worth Poverty and Child Development

These findings provide evidence that net worth poverty has negative associations with children’s development. Net worth poverty predicts lower reading and applied problem scores and increased behavioral problems.

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Journal Articles

Net Worth Poverty and Child Development

This study provides evidence that net worth poverty has negative associations with children’s development.

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Journal Articles

Impact of a Universal Perinatal Home-Visiting Program on Reduction in Race Disparities in Maternal and Child Health

This study demonstrates that a universal approach to early family intervention can have positive population impact while also reducing disparities in outcomes.

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Policy Briefs

Measuring Educational Opportunity in North Carolina Public School Districts

This research brief examines two measures of educational opportunity in North Carolina public school districts, average achievement and achievement growth. The first measure— average achievement—indexes the average level of student achievement at a single point in time. The second measure—achievement growth—indexes the rate of growth in student achievement over time.

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Journal Articles

Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Case Positivity and Social Context: The Role of Housing, Neighborhood, and Health Insurance

This paper analyzed how housing, neighborhood, and health insurance explain disparities in case positivity between and within racial-ethnic groups in Durham County, North Carolina, finding that housing, neighborhood, and health insurance had a significant role in producing racial-ethnic disparities in COVID-19 case positivity.

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Research Project

Net Worth Poverty and Children’s Development

This study examines how net worth poverty – or household’s whose wealth levels fall below one-quarter of the federal poverty line – is associated with children’s cognitive and behavioral development. Most children who are net worth poor are not income poor, meaning that these economically vulnerable group of children have been conventionally overlooked in conversations about poverty.

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Working Papers

Unconditional Cash and Family Investments in Infants: Evidence from a Large-Scale Cash Transfer Experiment in the U.S.

A key policy question in evaluating social programs to address childhood poverty is how families receiving unconditional financial support would spend those funds. Economists have limited empirical evidence on this topic in the U.S. We find that the cash transfers increased spending on child-specific goods and mothers’ early-learning activities with their infants.

read more about Unconditional Cash and Family Investments in Infants: Evidence from a Large-Scale Cash Transfer Experiment in the U.S.
Journal Articles

The Effects of the Emeryville Fair Workweek Ordinance on the Daily Lives of Low-Wage Workers and Their Families

Emeryville, California’s Fair Workweek Ordinance (FWO) aimed to reduce service workers’ schedule unpredictability by requiring large retail and food service employers to provide advanced notice of schedules and to compensate workers for last-minute schedule changes. The FWO decreased working parents’ schedule unpredictability and improved their well-being, decreased parents’ days worked while increasing hours per work day, and parent well-being improved.

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Reports

Three Reasons Why Providing Cash to Families With Children Is a Sound Policy Investment

This paper, co-authored by Lisa Gennetian, provides three reasons why giving cash to families with low incomes is a sound policy investment for families and children. (It focuses on why cash is important, not which policy option is the optimal mechanism for distributing cash to families.)

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Journal Articles

Marriage, Kids, and the Picket Fence? Household Type and Wealth among U.S. Households, 1989 to 2019

Researchers examine net worth by the intersection of gender, parental, and relationship status during a period of increasing wealth inequality and family diversification using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances from 1989 through 2019. Despite changing social selection into marriage and parenthood, married parents consistently held a wealth advantage over demographically similar adults in other household types.

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Research Project

Examining Medicaid and the Nutrition Program for Women and Children to Understand How to Design Social Policy to Achieve Health Equity

This research will provide an in-depth view of variation in state-level policy rules and program administration across WIC and Medicaid in three states and illuminate the consequences for policy beneficiaries’ ability to access benefits, engage with programs, and function as democratic citizens.

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Research Project

Local Criminal Justice Reform Efforts: Effects on Employment, Self-Sufficiency, and Family Well-Being

This study is evaluating a local program in Durham, NC, that waives the fees of those who have a suspended license due to failure to pay, in order to discover how reinstating drivers’ licenses can reduce barriers to employment and self-sufficiency.

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Journal Articles
Resources

The impact of a poverty reduction intervention on infant brain activity

Data from the Baby’s First Years study, a randomized control trial, show that a predictable, monthly unconditional cash transfer given to low-income families may have a causal impact on infant brain activity.

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Journal Articles

Evaluation of a Family Connects Dissemination to Four High-Poverty Rural Counties

Home visiting is a popular approach to improving the health and well-being of families with infants and young children in the United States; but, to date, no home visiting program has achieved population impact for families in rural communities. The current report includes evaluation results from the dissemination of a brief, universal postpartum home visiting program to four high-poverty rural counties.

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Research Project

WIC, SNAP and Medicaid Participation in North Carolina

Investigate the barriers and facilitators of applying for, receiving, and redeeming safety net program benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in North Carolina. Including before and during COVID-19.

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Research Project

Children of Color in the (Southern) Welfare State: How Politics, Poverty, and Social Policy Implementation Shape Child Development in the Rural South

Thia study draws from quantitative and ethnographic data across three rural counties to examine how the distinct features of rural southern communities inform organizational practices of public welfare agencies in ways that reinforce racial inequality and negatively influences family processes and adolescent development outcomes. This study examines how rural contexts shape access to four prominent safety net programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, the Child Care Subsidy, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

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Research Project

Baby’s First Years Study

Baby’s First Years is a pathbreaking study of the causal impact of monthly, unconditional cash gifts to low-income mothers and their children in the first three years of the child’s life. The cash gifts are funded through charitable foundations. The study will identify whether reducing poverty can affect early childhood development and the family processes that support children’s development.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Understanding Patterns of Food Insecurity and Family Well-Being Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic Using Daily Surveys

This paper investigates economic and psychological hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic among a diverse sample of socioeconomically disadvantaged parents and their elementary school-aged children. Longitudinal models revealed that food insecurity, negative parent and child mood, and child misbehavior significantly increased when schools closed; only food insecurity and parent depression later decreased.

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Book Chapter

Increasing Instability and Uncertainty among American Workers Implications for Inequality and Potential Policy Solutions

Anna Gassman Pines, Elizabeth Ananat, and Yulya Trushinovsky wrote a chapter in the book Who Gets What? The New Politics of Insecurity. In the chapter, they identify how recent trends combine to increase instability and uncertainty among low-wage workers, discuss the effects of instability and uncertainty on workers and families, and consider potential policy solutions.

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Journal Articles

“It Was Actually Pretty Easy”: COVID-19 Compliance Cost Reductions in the WIC Program

Studies identify one element of compliance costs—quarterly appointments—as a barrier to continued WIC participation. This article draws on 44 in-depth qualitative interviews with participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to examine how WIC participants perceived the reduction of compliance costs following the implementation of remote appointments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. WIC participants reported satisfaction with remote appointments and a reduction in the compliance costs of accessing and maintaining benefits.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Childhood Wealth Inequality in the United States: Implications for Social Stratification and Well-Being

Wealth inequality—the unequal distribution of assets and debts across a population—has reached historic levels in the United States, particularly for households with children.

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Research Project

Intergenerational Persistence of Treatment Effects

Many childhood interventions target low-income and high-risk children, with evidence that some early interventions improve adult health and wellbeing. This study asks whether children who benefit from early interventions grow up to become better parents and, subsequently, have children who experience fewer health problems, educational challenges, and emotional problems.

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Research Project

Poverty and Economic Self Sufficiency Among Hispanic Families with Children

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families is a collaboration between Child Trends and three university based research partners and serves as a hub of research-based information on low-income Hispanic children and families.

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Research Project

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Economic and Psychological Well-Being of Hourly Service Workers and their Families

Around 1,000 hourly service workers with young children in a large US city were sampled with an initial focus on work schedule unpredictability and worker and family well-being. The data collection then shifted with the emergence of COVID-19 to reflect pandemic-related concerns such as food insecurity, job loss, income, and access to pandemic-specific and broader social safety net policy supports.

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Research Project

How Do State Social Assistance Policies and Practices Impact Utilization and Outcomes Among Hispanic Low-Income Youth?

Project Description Hispanic youth represent a growing proportion of America’s future workforce. The vast majority are U.S.-born and raised in income-poor households, yet little is understood about the influence of social and income security policy on their well-being. Despite eligibility, Hispanic families are less likely to receive income assistance than their peers. Resulting differences in…

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Research Project

Meeting the Bar: A Propensity Score Analysis of BSF Impacts by Couples’ Economic Status

Project Description The Building Strong Families (BSF) project, a randomized control trial to enhance relationships among new parents, had few effects on the families involved. The treatment, which consisted of counseling, relationship skill training, and other family support services, had little impact on relationship outcomes, parenting measures, or child well-being. Three years after randomization, the…

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Research Project

Global Human Development Intervention Research Network

Project Description Foster a global network for human development intervention research in low- and middle-income countries. Project Goals The goal of this project is to foster the development of a new global network for human development intervention research in low- and middle-income countries. Using the new global network, a researcher or interventionist would be able…

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Research Project

The Impact of State EITC Policy and Practices on Participation Rates of Hispanic Families

Project Description This study is a collaboration between Dr. Gennetian and co-PI Dana Thomson from Child Trends and aims to advance the understanding of how Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) policies and practices may vary by race/ethnicity and differentially affect use among eligible Hispanic families with young children. Project Goals The study will examine (1)…

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Research Project

Household Net Worth Poverty and Children’s Development

Project Description To examine how children’s experiences with household net worth poverty and income poverty influence their well-being as measured through cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes.  The sample of children aged 0-18 and their household characteristics will be constructed from existing Prospective Study of Child Development–Child Development Study (PSID-CDS) data.  Descriptive statistics and multivariate regression analyses…

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Research Project

The Role of Wealth in the Transition to Young Adulthood for Minority Youth

Project Description This project represents the first efforts to ascertain the extent and potential repercussions of wealth and net worth poverty among minority youth. Project Goals 1. Analyze racial and ethnic disparities in wealth among households with children, and identify potential mechanisms that explain such disparities.2. Estimate levels and trends in net worth poverty for…

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Research Project

The Timing of SNAP Benefit Receipt and Children’s Academic Achievement

Project Description An important part of the U.S. safety net, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides cash-like benefits to low-income people that can only be used to purchase food. My proposed project will investigate relationships between the timing of SNAP benefit receipt and children’s achievement test scores in North Carolina (NC), using a unique…

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Research Project

The Effects of Local Job Destruction on Youth Mobility

Project Description We combined the quasi-experimental data we have constructed on mass job losses by month in every county in North Carolina and by quarter in every state in the US (Ananat, Gassman-Pines, and Gibson-Davis 2013) with local area statistics on mobility by cohort (Chetty, Hendren, Kline, Saez, and Turner 2014) to identify how changing local…

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Research Project

The Racial Marriage Gap and Student Achievement: A New Look at an Old Conundrum

Project Description Policymakers fear that the gap in marriage between low- and high-income parents may exacerbate inequality by increasing disparities in children’s academic achievement. Whether it does, however, depends on whether marriage causes improved child outcomes or merely reflects other advantages. We revisit this question by identifying quasi-experimental variation in whether parents who conceive non-maritally…

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Research Project

Family Structure and Inequality in Contemporary America

Project Description This project analyzes economic inequality among families with children in the contemporary American landscape. Our goal is to ascertain whether family structure per se has become more important over time in explaining economic inequality, or whether it is the constellation of factors associated with family structure that have grown in importance. To achieve…

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Research Project

Collaborative Proposal: A Data-Intensive Exploration of the Links between SES and STEM Learning Outcomes

Project Description This project brings together an interdisciplinary research team from Duke University, SRI International, Teachers College, and the Association of American Geographers to explore relationships between the socioeconomic status (SES) of students and their STEM learning outcomes. The motivations for this project are twofold (1) identify the links between SES and STEM Learning and…

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Research Project

Evaluating and Mitigating the Impact of Evictions and Other Housing Insecurity Issues Over Health and Child Development in North Carolina

Project Description The overall goal of this project is to develop an understanding of the effects of housing insecurity on families in Durham County and the conditions and policies that contribute to housing insecurity. We will work with our community partners to identify policies and services that influence the impact of housing insecurity in our community….

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Policy Briefs
Resources

Behind the Findings: Policies that Contribute to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Net Worth Poverty

This brief summarizes the findings from Net Worth Poverty in Child Households by Race and Ethnicity, 1989–2019 in the Journal of Marriage and the Family and offers historical context for U.S. policies that have contributed to racial and ethnic differences in net worth poverty in child households.

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Book Chapter
Resources

Maternal Imprisonment and the Timing of Children’s Foster Care Involvement

Beth Gifford, Megan Golonka and Kelly Evans wrote a chapter of the book, Children with Incarceratead Mothers Separation, Loss, and Reunification. The chapter summarized findings of their study that examined the timing of mother’s incarceration in relation to her children’s involvement with social services, contributory factors leading to foster care placement, and foster care discharge outcomes.

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Policy Briefs
Resources

Improving Access to Critical Nutrition Assistance Programs

Participants of the study pointed to a number of actionable recommendations to increase program participation and enhance the participant experience in the nutrition assistance programs SNAP and WIC: Federal and state WIC programs should strengthen vendor management to improve the shopping experience. State and local agencies should develop peer programs to educate WIC participants on…

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Journal Articles

“It Takes a While to Get Used to”: The Costs of Redeeming Public Benefits

Scholars have examined how administrative burden creates barriers to accessing public benefits but have primarily focused on the challenges of claiming benefits. Less is known about the difficulties beneficiaries face when using public benefits, especially voucher-based public assistance programs. Examining redemption costs can help clarify when and where beneficiaries experience burdens, reasons behind discontinuity in program participation, and why public programs fail to meet objectives.

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Journal Articles

Experiences of Hispanic Families with Social Services in the Racially Segregated Southeast: Views from Administrators and Workers in North Carolina

While we expected to find that Hispanic families may be disadvantaged by decentralized service delivery in a manner that is similar to the experiences of African American families, workers instead note significant resources that help facilitate Hispanic families’ access to programs.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Work Schedule Unpredictability: Daily Occurrence and Effects on Working Parents’ Well-Being

Family science has long considered the ways in which parents’ experiences in the workplace can affect families.

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Policy Briefs
Resources

Reimagining Policing: How Community-Led Interventions Can Improve Outcomes for Domestic Violence and Mental Health Calls

In response to police killings of Black people and the ensuing protests that took place in communities across the country in 2020, media coverage in North Carolina and in much of the nation this past year has focused heavily on instances of police violence and the protests and counterprotests that have since occurred throughout the…

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Journal Articles
Resources

Net Worth Poverty in Child Households by Race and Ethnicity, 1989–2019

This study is the first to examine net worth poverty, and its intersection with income poverty, by race and ethnicity among child households in the United States.

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Policy Briefs
Resources

Working Families’ Experiences of the Enduring COVID Crisis: Snapshot from Midsummer

Key Takeaways: Economic instability remains high among hourly service workers — from both job and household income loss. Food insecurity has increased significantly among working families. Safety net programs can help families maintain their incomes and reduce food insecurity, however benefits are not reaching everyone. Keeping vulnerable families afloat during the pandemic will require policymakers…

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Policy Briefs
Resources

“New Normal” for Children and Families: Developing a Universal Approach with a Focus on Equity

This brief provides an overview of the various channels through which COVID-19 has affected the lives of children and families, and proposes 4 key actions to help communities heal and build stronger, equitable systems: Create a “new” public health system centered upon a universal approach to care with a focus on equity. Invest in early…

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Policy Briefs
Resources

The Added Benefit of North Carolina’s Evictions Moratorium: Protecting Vulnerable Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Key Takeaways: Government officials halted housing evictions in North Carolina as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. We analyze administrative data on evictions from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts and on public school children in Durham to identify characteristics of children who experience eviction. Our analysis shows that an additional benefit of the…

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Books
Resources

State of Empowerment: Low-Income Families and the New Welfare State

Carolyn Barnes uses ethnographic accounts of three organizations to reveal how interacting with government-funded after-school programs can enhance the civic and political lives of low-income citizens.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Mothers’ and Fathers’ Time Spent with Children in the U.S.: Variations by Race/Ethnicity Within Income from 2003 to 2013

Using data from the American Time Use Survey, we examine the empirically underexplored ways in which racial and ethnic identity shapes parental time use.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Professionals, friends, and confidants: After-school staff as social support to low-income parents

Policy makers, practitioners, and researchers have emphasized the importance of supportive relationships between staff and parents in early childhood education settings and schools.

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Journal Articles
Resources

WIC Recipients in the Retail Environment: A Qualitative Study Assessing Customer Experience and Satisfaction

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is an important intervention for prevention and treatment of obesity and food insecurity, but participation has dropped among eligible populations from 2009 to 2015.

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Journal Articles
Resources

Multifaceted Aid for Low-Income Students and College Outcomes: Evidence From North Carolina

We study the evolution of a campus-based aid program for low-income students that began with grant-heavy financial aid and later added a suite of nonfinancial supports.

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