Category Archives: Human Services

Shrinking local autonomy: corporate coalitions and the subnational state

Source: Yunji Kim, Mildred E Warner, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Volume 11, Issue 3, October 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using focus groups and government finance data, we explore three areas of US state rescaling at the subnational level: revenue tools, expenditure responsibilities and policy authority. Expenditure responsibilities, especially social welfare, have been devolved to the subnational level, while local revenue tools and policy authority are preempted. This decoupling of responsibility and power is cracking the foundations of fiscal federalism. At the behest of corporate-legislative coalitions, subnational state governments are shrinking local capacity and authority to govern. This is not state shrinkage; it is a fundamental reshaping of the subnational state to the detriment of democracy and the social contract.

How Government and Community Nonprofit Collaboration and Non-Collaboration Affects Public Sector Outcomes

Source: Rebecca H. Padot, International Journal of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, February 15, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This four state foster care study seeks to understand what practices state public managers perform with regards to community nonprofits that contributes to effectiveness in producing better public sector outcomes. The study produced key player field research data on the conditions under which community nonprofits produce better public sector outcomes.

This article offers reasons as to why some effective community nonprofits were able to achieve collaboration with the public sector, while others were not, despite their effectiveness. Effective public managers in the area of foster care administration permit, and at times recruit, community nonprofits to have an impact on their foster care domain, while ineffective public managers never reach out to community nonprofits as partners or further yet, block nonprofits from access.

Other Duties as Assigned: Front-line librarians on the constant pressure to do more

Source: Anne Ford, American Libraries, January 2, 2019

Maybe it existed only in our collective imagination—the era when librarians focused solely on providing access to written information, and when their greatest on-the-job challenge consisted of keeping the stacks in order. Whether that halcyon time ever actually took place, it’s definitely not here now. Social worker, EMT, therapist, legal consultant, even bodily defender: These are the roles that many (perhaps most?) librarians feel they’re being asked to assume.

American Libraries asked seven librarians—public, academic, and school; urban and rural—their thoughts about the many directions in which their profession finds itself pulled….

Local Labor Demand and Program Participation Dynamics: Evidence from New York SNAP Administrative Records

Source: Erik Scherpf, Benjamin Cerf, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, First published: January 8, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study estimates the effect of local labor demand on the likelihood that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries are able to transition out of the program. Our data include SNAP administrative records from New York (2007 to 2012), linked at the person‐level to the 2010 Census, and linked at the county‐month‐level to industry‐specific labor market conditions. We find that local labor markets matter for the length of time spent on SNAP, but there is substantial heterogeneity in estimated effects across local industries. Using Bartik‐style instruments to isolate the effect of labor demand and controlling for the changing composition of entrants and program rules brought on by the Great Recession, we find that fluctuations in labor demand in industries with high shares of SNAP participants—especially food service and retail—change the likelihood of exiting the program. Notably, estimated industry effects vary across race and parental status, with black participants being most sensitive to changes in local labor market conditions and mothers benefiting less from growth in local labor demand than fathers and non‐parents. We confirm that our results are not driven by endogenous inter‐county mobility or New York City labor markets and are robust to multiple specifications.

The 2019 government shutdown is just the latest reason why poor people can’t bank on the safety net

Source: Jamila Michener, The Conversation, January 14, 2019

….People living in poverty are now bracing for that kind of chopping as a result of the partial government shutdown that began in December. By the three-week mark, most safety-net benefits were still being funded. But should the impasse drag on, that could change.

In my view, the added economic hardship brought on would highlight an enduring aspect of American public policy: Government benefits can be unreliable. They can be cut or eliminated arbitrarily….

Access to Food Stamps Improves Children’s Health and Reduces Medical Spending

Source: Chloe N. East, Center for Poverty Research – University of California, Policy Brief, Vol. 7 no. 4, November 2018

The Food Stamp Program (FSP, known since 2008 as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) is one of the largest safety-net programs in the United States. It is especially important for families with children. However, the FSP eligibility of documented immigrants has shifted on multiple occasions in recent decades. When I studied the health outcomes of children in documented immigrant families affected by such shifts between 1996 and 2003, I found that just one extra year of parental eligibility before age 5 improves health outcomes at ages 6-16. This suggests that expanding food-stamp access for such families has lasting long-run benefits for their children and may help to reduce public medical expenditures in the medium term.

Key Facts:
– Immigrants’ loss of eligibility reduced participation in the Food Stamp Program among U.S.-born children of immigrants by 50%, and reduced the average benefits they received by 36%.
– Loss of parental food-stamp eligibility before age five has clear negative effects on developmental health outcomes and on parental reports of the child’s health in the medium-run.
– An additional year of food-stamp access in early life reduces medical expenditures in the medium-run by roughly $140 per child.

New Study Confirms That American Workers Are Getting Ripped Off

Source: Eric Levitz, New York Magazine, July 6, 2018

…. Economists have put forward a variety of explanations for the aberrant absence of wage growth in the middle of a recovery: Automation is slowly (but irrevocably) reducing the market-value of most workers’ skills; a lack of innovation has slowed productivity growth to a crawl; well-paid baby-boomers are retiring, and being replaced with millennials who have enough experience to do the boomers’ jobs — but not enough to demand their salaries.

There’s likely some truth to these narratives.

But a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) offers a more straightforward — and political — explanation: American policymakers have chosen to design an economic system that leaves workers desperate and disempowered, for the sake of directing a higher share of economic growth to bosses and shareholders.

The OECD doesn’t make this argument explicitly. But its report lays waste to the idea that the plight of the American worker can be chalked up to impersonal economic forces, instead of concrete political decisions. If the former were the case, then American laborers wouldn’t be getting a drastically worse deal than their peers in other developed nations. But we are. Here’s a quick rundown of the various ways that American workers are getting ripped off:

American workers are more likely to be poor (by the standards of their nation). ….
We also get fired more often — and with far less notice. ….
Our government does less for us when we’re out of work than just about anyone else’s. ….
Labor’s share of income has been falling faster in the U.S. than almost anywhere else. ….

New reports highlight different approaches to child welfare financing

Source: Child Trends, June 2018

Two new reports from Child Trends provide a comprehensive overview of how states use various funding sources to support child welfare agencies. The first report highlights state variation in per-child spending by child welfare agencies, finding that agencies spent $12.8 billion (approximately $172 per child) in federal funds and $16.3 billion (approximately $222 per child) in state funds in fiscal year 2014.

See:
Federal and State/Local Child Welfare Agency Spending per Child, 2004–2014
Source: Dana Connelly, Kristina Rosinsky, Child Trends, Research Brief, Publication #2018-12, June 2018

The second report highlights variation in how child welfare agencies use federal funding streams to finance their programs. This information can help policymakers, advocates, and other child welfare stakeholders review state approaches to child welfare financing and better understand how changes to funding streams will impact child welfare programs.

See:
State Variation in Child Welfare Agency Use of Federal Funding Sources
Source: Dana Connelly, Kristina Rosinsky, Child Trends, Research Brief, Publication #2018-13, June 2018

Related:
5 things to know about children and SNAP
Source: David Murphey, Child Trends, June 28, 2018
A new Child Trends 5 explains how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) impacts children’s well-being. SNAP serves a monthly average of more than 1 in 4 U.S. children. The single largest share of households with children receiving SNAP benefits are headed by a white, non-Hispanic adult.

Donald Trump Asked, “What Do You Have to Lose?” This Illinois Town Found Out.

Source: Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, July/August 2018

How a small town got caught up in Ben Carson’s crusade against fair housing.

Related:
In Small-Town America, the Public Housing Crisis Nobody’s Talking About
Source: Molly Parker, ProPublica and The Southern Illinoisan, April 6, 2018

The shuttering of public housing complexes in two small Midwestern towns raises big questions for residents, HUD and Congress.

Less Bang for Your Buck? How Social Capital Constrains the Effectiveness of Social Welfare Spending

Source: Mallory E. Compton, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Online First, First Published June 21, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Rising economic insecurity in recent decades has focused attention on the importance of social welfare programs in managing household financial stability. Some governments are more effective than others in managing this outcome, and informal social institutions help explain why. Social capital is expected to shape economic security through multiple mechanisms, but whether the effect is to magnify or mitigate volatility is an open question. Part of the answer has to do with how social capital interacts with policy implementation, and whether it conditions the effectiveness of government spending. Evidence from the U.S. states from 1986 to 2010 fails to support a benevolent social capital thesis—not only is social capital associated with greater economic insecurity, there is no evidence that it improves social welfare effectiveness. However, greater spending on some social programs can mitigate the adverse impact of social capital on economic security.