This paper for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation conceptualizes a framework for a new safety net for low-income working families that is rooted in their most essential needs. It is organized around five key goals:
1. enabling parents to meet their family’s needs while working in lower-wage jobs,
2. helping families weather gaps in parental employment,
3. supporting parents’ job advancement,
4. helping parents combine work and child-rearing, and
5. improving children’s well-being and development.
The paper describes these families’ circumstances, discusses gaps in current safety-net programs, and explores possible alternative approaches to meeting families’ most pressing needs.