Category Archives: Children

Covering Uninsured Children in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program

Source: Congressional Budget Office

SCHIP has significantly reduced the number of low-income children who lack health insurance. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) estimates, the portion of children in families with income between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty level who were uninsured fell by about 25 percent between 1996 (the year before SCHIP was enacted) and 2006. In contrast, the uninsurance rate among higher-income children remained relatively stable during that period. The difference probably reflects the impact of the SCHIP program.

The states’ outreach efforts and simplified enrollment processes for SCHIP appear to have also increased the share of eligible children who participate in Medicaid–and contributed to a decline in the percentage of children below the poverty level who are uninsured.

The enrollment of children in public coverage as a result of SCHIP has not led to a one-for-one reduction in the number of low-income children who are uninsured, however. Almost any increase in government spending or tax expenditures intended to expand health insurance coverage will displace private coverage to some degree. In the specific case of SCHIP, the program provides a source of coverage that is less expensive to enrollees and often provides a broader range of benefits than alternative coverage. As a result, the program displaces–or “crowds out”–private coverage to some extent. On the basis of a review of the research literature, CBO has concluded that for every 100 children who gain public coverage as a result of SCHIP, there is a corresponding reduction in private coverage of between 25 and 50 children.

CBO’s analysis of the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2007, as passed by the House of Representatives, suggested that the legislation would result in 5.8 million children gaining coverage under Medicaid or SCHIP in 2012. Of that increase, CBO estimated, 3.8 million children would otherwise have been uninsured, and 2.0 million children would otherwise have had private coverage. In other words, about one-third of the children who would be newly covered under SCHIP and Medicaid would otherwise have had private coverage. That crowd-out rate is probably about as low as feasible for a voluntary program to increase coverage among children, given the size of the proposed expansion. (Policies to reduce the rate below that level would most likely also reduce the number of children enrolled in the program who would otherwise be uninsured.)

On August 17, 2007, the Administration issued a directive to state health officials that imposes certain minimum requirements on states seeking to enroll children in SCHIP whose families have income above 250 percent of the poverty level. CBO’s analysis suggests that the directive’s impact on enrollment is likely to be modest under current law, given the way the Administration appears to be implementing it and, more important, given the funding levels assumed in the baseline. The directive could have a substantially larger impact on enrollment in SCHIP if the Congress expanded the program significantly.


State Early Care and Education Budget Actions FY 2007 – FY 2008

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

NCSL is proud to present the results of the first-ever survey of state and territory fiscal staff on early care and education appropriations. Because of states’ growing interest in early care and education, NCSL developed a survey of state appropriations in four categories: child care, prekindergarten, parent education/home visiting, and any additional early learning strategies. The survey asked state and territory fiscal staff for FY 2007 and FY 2008 appropriations.

Overall reported total appropriations to early care and education increased by more than $1.07 billion between FY 2007 and FY 2008. State general fund appropriations for child care, prekindergarten and home visiting increased by $1.2 billion between FY 2007 and FY 2008. States reported a reduction in TANF appropriations for child care by almost $190 million, but an increase of $40 million in dedicated funds appropriations for prekindergarten and home visiting. This survey was designed to collect data on state efforts in early care and education and emphasized general fund appropriations; states were not asked to report their federal fund allocations. Some federal funds are reflected as noted in the charts. These overall figures are likely to be an undercounting of the entire state appropriations in these programs because not all states reported and not all states reported on all programs. These issues are reflected in the findings and the charts.

The State of Preschool 2007

Source: National Institute for Early Education Research

From press release (Pew Charitable Trusts):

State-funded preschools served over one million children last year, yet public pre-K was unavailable for most 3- and 4-year-olds, according to the annual survey released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The State of Preschool 2007 ranks all 50 states on the percentage of children served and spending per child. It also compares the number of quality benchmarks each state meets for the 2006-2007 school year. The survey found that enrollment, quality and state spending per child increased.

Yet, 12 states offered no state-funded preschool education and others faltered in their commitment to the quality of their early education programs. The report showed that nationally less than half of all 4-year-olds were enrolled in government-supported preschool education programs and one quarter received no preschool. For 3-year-olds the situation was worse, with only 15 percent enrolled in public programs and 50 percent receiving no early education.

Children from wealthy families can attend expensive private preschools while the federal Head Start program and most state-funded preschool education is targeted at lower income families.

Full Report (PDF; 8.4 MB)

State Profiles (PDFs)

Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2005

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Fertility & Family Statistics Branch, 2008

From the press release:
Relatives regularly provide child care to almost half of the more than 19 million preschoolers, according to tabulations released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Fathers and grandparents were the primary relative child care providers.

The series of tables, Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2005, showed that among the 11.3 million children younger than 5 whose mothers were employed, 30 percent were cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent during their mother’s working hours. A slightly greater percentage spent time in an organized care facility, such as a day care center, nursery or preschool. Meanwhile, 25 percent received care from their fathers, 3 percent from siblings and 8 percent from other relatives when mothers went to work.

The tables provide data on child care arrangements of preschoolers and grade-schoolers by various demographic characteristics of the employed mother. They also profile children who care for themselves on a regular basis and examine the size of weekly child care payments made by selected characteristics of the family.
Weekly Child Care Costs 1985-2005

Recent CRS Reports

Source: Congressional Research Service
• February 26, 2008 – Child Welfare Issues in the 110th Congress
• February 20, 2008 – Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Workers: Current Issues and Legislation
• February 19, 2008 – The Alternative Minimum Tax For Individuals: Legislative Activity in the 110th Congress
• February 14, 2008 – Largest Mergers and Acquisitions by Corporations in 2007

Children’s Stake in Social Security

Source: Joni Lavery and Virginia P. Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance, no. 27, February 2008

From the press release:
While Social Security is best known as a retirement program, it is also irreplaceable life and disability insurance for young families, according to a new report released today by the non-partisan National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI).

About 6.5 million children under 18 – or nearly 9 percent of all U.S. children – received part of their family income from Social Security in 2005. They include 3.1 million children who themselves receive benefits as dependents of a deceased, disabled, or retired parent, and an estimated 3.4 million other children who do not themselves receive Social Security, but live with relatives who do.
See also:
Fact Sheet

Investing in Early Education: Paths to Improving Children’s Success

Source: Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution, Testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor, January 23, 2008

As members of this Committee know well, there is good evidence from scientific research that preschool education can be an effective tool in our nation’s long struggle to reduce the achievement gap between poor children and children from non-poor families. Reducing the achievement gap holds great promise for reducing poverty in the long term and even for reducing inequality. Having spent many years studying social intervention programs, I think it is fair to say that there is no body of evidence on any social intervention that holds as much promise of producing as wide a range of positive effects as high-quality preschool programs.

Every Kid Counts in the District of Columbia: 14th Annual Fact Book 2007

Source: Jennifer Comey, Peter A. Tatian, Elizabeth Guernsey, Betsy Chang, Urban Institute, February 08, 2008

From the abstract:
The 14th annual Fact Book is a comprehensive data source for indicators of child well-being in the District of Columbia. Over 50 data indicators are tracked over time. This publication provides a broad perspective on the status of children and youth in the District. We seek to inform and educate our readers about the issues affecting children and their families in the District. We encourage community residents, policy makers, professionals, and others who work with and/or on behalf of children and families to create conditions that foster the optimal health and development of our children.

The Fact Book is organized to reflect the six citywide goals for children and youth in the District of Columbia. The six citywide goals are: children are ready for school; children and youth succeed in school; children and youth are healthy and practice healthy behaviors; children and youth engage in meaningful activities; children and youth live in healthy, stable, and supportive families; and all youth make a successful transition to adulthood.

Designing Subsidy Systems to Meet the Needs of Families

Source: Gina Adams, Kathleen Snyder, Patti Banghart, Urban Institute, February 4, 2008

Many state and local child care subsidy agencies have been redesigning their policies to better meet the needs of the families they serve, and to create more efficient and fiscally responsible systems. These strategies reflect states’ growing understanding of the dynamic nature of low-income families’ lives and of the challenges they face as they move toward stable employment. This report synthesizes findings from various research projects conducted by the Urban Institute (and other organizations), and lays out a range of policy strategies states are implementing to support eligible families in accessing and retaining child care subsidies.

Rewarding the Work of Individuals: A Counterintuitive Approach to Reducing Poverty and Strengthening Families

Source: The Future of Children (via MRDC)

Between the end of World War II and 1973, the share of Americans living in poverty fell by half. But since 1973 the overall poverty rate has remained largely unchanged. Why didn’t poverty continue to decline? Falling wages and increasing rates of lone parenting are the two principal explanations. Economic changes led to stagnant and declining wages at the bottom of the wage distribution, especially among men with a high school diploma or less, and demographic changes saw a near doubling of the fraction of all families with children that were headed by a single parent.

The problems of falling wages and single parenthood are intertwined. As the wages of men with a high school education or less began to tumble, the employment rates of these men also fell, and, in turn, the share who could support a family above the poverty line began to decline — and with it the professed willingness of low-income mothers and fathers to marry. Because the U.S. social welfare system is built around the needs of poor families with children — and largely excludes single adults who are poor (and disproportionately male) — it creates disincentives to work and marry for some, aggravating these larger trends. Although recent changes have reduced marriage penalties in the tax and transfer system, some do remain, particularly when both spouses in a married-couple family have similar earnings.

A strategy that used the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to supplement the earnings of all low-wage workers aged 21 to 54 who work full time — whether they have children or not and whether they marry or not — would counter three decades of wage stagnation and persistent poverty, with significant positive corollary effects on employment and parental child support. By conditioning the benefit on full-time work, by targeting individuals regardless of their family status, by keeping the existing EITC for families with children in place, and by calculating EITC eligibility on the basis of individual income (as Canadians and Europeans do) rather than joint income for tax filing purposes, this earnings-based supplement would restore equity to the American social compact while minimizing the distortion of incentives to work, marry, and bear children.

Full Report (PDF; 156 KB)