Category Archives: Human Services

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.

The Effects of Minimum Wages on SNAP Enrollments and Expenditures

Source: Rachel West and Michael Reich, Center for American Progress, March 2014

From the summary:
How do minimum wage policy increases affect enrollments and expenditures on means-tested public assistance programs? In this report we address this question for the case of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program. … In an era of historically low real federal minimum wage rates, rising income inequality, job-market stagnation, and contentious debate about government deficit spending, the possibility that a higher minimum wage may lead to increased or reduced public spending has great relevance to the public and to policymakers. This report presents an initial empirical analysis of the effects of minimum wage policy on SNAP participation and expenditures. We do so by exploiting more than two decades of variation in binding state and federal minimum wage changes in an econometric framework. Our future research will examine the effects on SNAP further and apply an analogous framework to two other public assistance spending programs: the Earned Income Tax Credit and Medicaid. According to the finding in this report a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces SNAP enrollment by between 2.4 percent and 3.2 percent and reduces program expenditures by an estimated 1.9 percent. Taking into account each state’s 2014 minimum wage level, we apply these results to the legislative proposal put forward by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Our results imply that the effects of the Harkin-Miller proposal on wage increases would reduce SNAP enrollments by between 6.5 percent and 9.2 percent (3.3 million to 3.8 million persons). The total anticipated annual decrease in program expenditures is nearly $4.6 billion, or about 6 percent of current SNAP program expenditures. …
See also:
Raising the Minimum Wage to $10.10 Would Cut Taxpayer Costs in Every State
Source: Rachel West and Michael Reich, Center for American Progress, March 5, 2014

Child Care Assistance Spending and Participation in 2012 – A Record Low

Source: Hannah Matthews and Stephanie Schmit, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), February 2014

Child care subsidies help make quality child care affordable for low-income parents, allowing them to attend work or school to support their families while ensuring their children’s healthy development. Access to quality child care is also proven to strengthen families’ economic security. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary source of federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income working families and to improve child care quality. States contribute in the form of matching funds and maintenance-of-effort (MOE). In addition, states use funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to deliver child care assistance. States can spend TANF funds directly on child care or transfer up to 30 percent of their funds to CCDBG or a combination of CCDBG and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG). TANF also has a state MOE requirement. This brief provides analysis of national trends for spending and participation in CCDBG and TANF child care in 2012, based on the most recent state data available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Top 10 Legislative Issues to Watch in 2014 / Plus six trending issues that could be big this year

Source: Ryan Holeywell, Liz Farmer, Mike Maciag, J.B. Wogan, Chris Kardish, Governing, Vol. 27 no. 4, January 2014

For states throughout the country this year, there’s a common theme: a climate of uncertainty coupled with a sense of genuine opportunity. Amid worries about the federal government’s failure to boost funding for infrastructure, many states are taking steps to produce that funding on their own. Congress seems to have stalled—again—in its efforts to reform the immigration system, but states are enacting bills designed to grant new rights to some of their undocumented residents. And after a period in which higher education programs faced dramatic cuts, states are putting money back into those programs—some of them more efficiently than in the past. Here are 10 big issues states will look to tackle in 2014, and six smaller ones they’ll also address. …

Medicaid … Income Tax Revision … Minimum Wage Laws … Public Pensions … Immigration … Safety Net … Higher Education … Employee Compensation … Transportation Funding … Drones …

Trending: 6 More Issues That Could Be Big

Abortion … Fracking … GMOs … Privacy … Social Impact Bonds … Autonomous Vehicles …

Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure

Source: Liana Fox, Irwin Garfinkel, Neeraj Kaushal, Jane Waldfogel, Christopher Wimer, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. 19789, January 2014

From the abstract:
Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the March Current Population Survey, we calculate historical poverty estimates based on the new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) from 1967 to 2012. During this period, poverty as officially measured has stagnated. However, the official poverty measure (OPM) does not account for the effect of near-cash transfers on the financial resources available to families, an important omission since such transfers have become an increasingly important part of government anti-poverty policy. Applying the SPM, which does count such transfers, we find that historical trends in poverty have been more favorable than the OPM suggests and that government policies have played an important and growing role in reducing poverty — a role that is not evident when the OPM is used to assess poverty. We also find that government programs have played a particularly important role in alleviating child poverty and deep poverty, especially during economic downturns.