Category Archives: Human Services

Universal Free School Meals: Ensuring that All Children Are Able to Learn

Source: Madeleine Levin, Jessie Hewins, Clearinghouse Review, March–April 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A growing number of schools offer all their students free meals through the new federal community eligibility option, which makes it easier for high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch and eliminate the administrative work associated with identifying and tracking each child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. Advocates should use a variety of strategies to offer meals for free and eliminate barriers to participation, including stigma.

The Federal Shutdown’s Impact on States

Source: Scott D. Pattison, Public Manager, Vol. 43 no 1, Spring 2014
(subscription required)

… The uncertainty generated by a federal shutdown is a serious problem for states, especially when it is unclear how long the shutdown will last. A federal shutdown is an extremely disruptive action for state governments, which manage numerous federal programs and receive grants for many activities such as education and law enforcement. Nearly one-third of all monies received and administered by states come from the federal government… Some of the best examples of this disruption involve three major federally funded programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which are administered by the states. Many Americans receive funds from these programs. To put these programs into context, roughly 47 million Americans receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). Total monthly participation in the WIC program last year averaged 8.7 million. And recipients of monthly TANF benefits averaged roughly 3.8 million. ….

Our Inequality: An Introduction

Source: Colin Gordon, Dissent, March 6, 2014

This series is adapted from Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality, a resource developed for the Project on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and It is presented in nine parts. This introduction lays out the basic dimensions of American inequality and interrogates the usual explanatory suspects. The next eight parts will develop a political explanation for American inequality, looking in turn at labor relations, the minimum wage and labor standards, job-based benefits, social policy, taxes, financialization, executive pay, and macroeconomic policy.

Articles include:
· The Union Difference: Labor and American Inequality
· The Bare Minimum: Labor Standards and American Inequality
· The Perils of Private Welfare: Job-Based Benefits and American Inequality
· A Tattered Safety Net: Social Policy and American Inequality

The Secret Life of a Food Stamp

Source: Krissy Clark, Marketplace, April 2014

This is Part I in the Marketplace series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp.” You can listen to the series here.

…In politics and in the news, a lot of focus is put on the many Yolanda Ballards of America. Whether they deserve the food stamp money they get. What they spend it on. Whether they abuse the system. Those were the kinds of questions clinging to recent debates in Congress over funding for food stamps. But throughout those debates, which resulted in more than $8 billion in cuts to the program over the next decade, one subject got relatively little attention: what happens to those food stamp dollars after people like Yolanda Ballard swipe their EBT cards and the money becomes store revenue…..

The USDA has prohibited the release of information on how much individual companies make from food stamp revenue….

Food Stamps Don’t Keep Walmart’s Prices Low, They Keep Its Profits High
Source: Amy Traub, Dēmos, Policy Shop blog, April 3, 2014

…Marketplace has done a great service by shining light on a key public misperception, illuminating the low-wage employers who benefit most from programs like food stamps. Yet an important part of the story still gets missed. It’s probably intended to be a rhetorical question when part II of the food stamp series asks: “Are Walmart’s prices so low because its employees are on food stamps?” But the answer is no.

In reality, it’s not Walmart’s low prices that taxpayers are subsidizing—it’s the company’s mammoth profits….

Why American Women Need An Expanded–Not Reduced–Social Safety Net

Source: Luisa S. Deprez and Lisa A. Morris, Scholars Strategy Network, SSN Basic Facts, March 2014

Poverty in the United States remains stubbornly high – and women are especially at risk. Older women can end up struggling despite Social Security; and single mothers and women of color, already likely to be poor, took an extra hard hit during the recent Great Recession. Yet political debates and media airwaves are full of loud calls to cut back on Social Security and Medicare and downsize or eliminate even bare-bones public safety net programs on which so many women rely – including Food Stamps, Medicaid, and child care and housing assistance. Citing cost concerns, critics argue that the U.S. is an overly dependent society, even though nine of every ten safety net dollars are spent to help people who are either too old or disabled to work or are members of households where one or two adults work for wages insufficient to make ends meet and care for children. Amidst rancorous calls for cut-backs, public support for the safety net has declined from 69% in 2007 to 59% today according to the Pew Research Center. Yet more than two-thirds of Americans still voice support for safety net programs, and almost 50% live in families receiving government income-maintenance benefits, up from 38% in 1998. Right-wingers drive the debate in directions most Americans clearly do not want to go, and legislators in the states and Congress regularly vote for reductions in social spending most voters do not endorse. Indeed, a closer look at women’s situation shows that we should be considering improvements in key safety net efforts especially vital to women and their families. …

The Relationship Between Older Americans Act In-Home Services and Low-Care Residents in Nursing Homes

Source: Kali S. Thomas, Journal of Aging and Health, Vol. 26 no. 2, March 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between supportive services provided under Title III-B of the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the prevalence of low-care residents in nursing homes (NHs). Method: State Program Reports (state-level expenditure and utilization data for each OAA service) and NH facility–level data were analyzed using a two-way fixed effects model. Results: Results suggest that every additional 1% of the population age 65+ that receives personal care services is associated with a 0.8% decrease in the proportion of low-care residents in NHs. Discussion: Despite efforts to rebalance long-term care, there are still many NH residents who have the functional capacity to live in a less restrictive environment. This is among the first studies to suggest that states that have invested in their in-home supportive services, particularly personal care services provided through the OAA, have proportionally fewer of these people.

CHHS study demonstrates housing program helps save lives, money

Source: Latricia Boone, UNC Charlotte, Press Release, March 24, 2014

A Charlotte-based permanent supportive housing program is finding success in its efforts to improve stability for chronically homeless individuals while also helping the community to save money, according to a report from UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services.

The report “Moore Place Permanent Support Housing Evaluation Study” examined the Moore Place housing program and how it is supporting individuals struggling with the devastating effects of homelessness, especially those suffering from disabling conditions such as mental illness, addiction and physical health issues. ….

Overall, the study found:
– Moore Place tenants are dealing with challenges that surpass the vulnerability of those in comparable programs nationally
– Moore Place is demonstrating high housing stability rates after one year of housing
– Area hospital bills, emergency room visits, and lengths of hospitalizations have decreased during tenants’ first year of housing at Moore Place. There was a 78% reduction in emergency room visits and a 79% reduction in in-patient hospitalizations, resulting in a 70% reduction ($1.8 million) in hospital bills in just one year
– Arrests and jail stays of Moore Place tenants decreased during their first year in the program. There was a 78% reduction in arrests and 84% reduction in jail stays…

Cheaper to house the homeless than to do nothing, study finds
Source: JC Sevcik, UPI, March 25, 2014

Study: Charlotte’s apartments for homeless save money
Source: Mark Price, Charlotte Observer, March 23, 2014

Housing Assistance Matters Initiative

Source: Urban Institute, 2014

Decent and affordable housing has far-reaching consequences for people’s health, quality of life, and access to opportunities, but these consequences are not always well understood. To inform public debate about assisted housing policy and strengthen policy outcomes, Housing Assistance Matters highlights research and analysis about the need for and benefits of well-managed public and assisted housing. Using a multimedia approach, this initiative draws upon research by Urban Institute scholars and others to explore key connections between all forms of rental assistance and outcomes for individuals, families, and communities. … Many Americans struggle to afford a decent, safe place to live in today’s market. Over the past five years, rents have risen while the number of renters who need moderately priced housing has increased. These two pressures make finding affordable housing even tougher for very poor households in America. For every 100 extremely low-income (ELI) renter households in the country, there are only 29 affordable and available rental units. As defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), extremely low-income households earn 30 percent or less of area median income. ….

….This situation would be much worse without HUD rental assistance, which helps almost 3.2 million ELI households afford homes. HUD assistance comes in three forms: public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, and privately owned but federally assisted housing. Without HUD rental assistance, the number of affordable and available rental units for ELI households would significantly decrease.

The Urban Institute will update this map periodically. And, as data become available, we will track the affordability gap for ELI households, as well as very low income and low-income households…..

Incentive Pay Practices Survey: Non-Profit/Government Organizations

Source: WorldatWork (Total Rewards Association) and Vivient Consulting, February 2014

…More than 175 participants from non-profit and government organizations responded to the survey, as did 190 participants from private, for-profit companies. Because of the large response from the sectors surveyed, 2 separate reports have been published: this report, “Incentive Pay Practices Survey: Non-Profit/Government Organizations,” and “Incentive Pay Practices Survey: Privately Held Companies.” …

… U.S. non-profit and government organizations continue to use short-term cash incentives to motivate and reward employees, and to compete for talent, according to the 2013 Vivient Consulting and WorldatWork survey, “Incentive Pay Practices Survey: Privately Held Companies. … In 2013, 78% of non-profit and government organizations reported using short-term incentives (STIs), while 16% reported using long-term incentives (LTIs)…. Of the non-profit and government respondents, 76% are non-profits, such as charitable and education organizations. The remaining 24% of respondents are public-sector organizations, such as state, local and federal government entities. The most common industries represented in the survey are health care and social assistance (46%); educational services (14%); and public administration (10%)….

An Examination of Retention and Length of Employment Among Public Child Welfare Workers

Source: Elissa Madden, Maria Scannapieco, Kirsten Painter, Children and Youth Services Review, Available online 6 March 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using longitudinal data collected over a 10 year period from a statewide sample of all new public child welfare caseworkers hired between 2001 and 2010, the present study uses Cox Proportional Hazards Regression analysis to examine personal and organizational factors that affect length of employment among child welfare workers. This study adds to the expanding body of research on factors that impact retention of child welfare workers, as few other studies have explored how personal and organizational factors influence caseworker length of employment. Understanding factors that may influence caseworker retention, and specifically length of employment, is an important next step in understanding the type of caseworkers that agencies should target when hiring, as well as the types of workplace interventions and strategies that should be implemented to help retain caseworkers and move towards achieving a more stable workforce. The findings of this study suggest that a mixture of personal and organizational factors influenced the length of time that child welfare workers remained with the agency. Of the variables evaluated in the models, gender, social work education, Title IV-E involvement, organizational support and job desirability were shown to significantly influence longevity with the agency.

• We evaluate factors that influence child welfare caseworker length of employment.
• A mixture of personal and organizational factors influenced length of employment.
• Personal factors included: gender, social work education, Title IV-E status.
• Organizational factors included: organizational support and job desirability.