Category Archives: Poverty

Promising antipoverty strategies for families

Source: Maria Cancian, Daniel R. Meyer, and Deborah Reed, Institute for Research on Poverty University of Wisconsin- Madison, Fast Focus No. 6, August 2010

American families are becoming increasingly diverse, dynamic, and dependent on labor market earnings to avoid poverty and economic distress. Children are less likely to live in families with both parents and more likely to rely on their mother’s earnings to avoid poverty. The recession has highlighted the urgent need for antipoverty programs supporting families, but the authors emphasize that the needs the programs address are longstanding, not only cyclical, and therefore require a sustained response.

In this brief, the authors review changes in family structure, the relationship between family structure and employment, and early evidence on differential impacts of the recession on families, and they explore the implications of these changes for policy. They argue that supporting resident parents’ efforts to balance work and family responsibilities and supporting and enforcing nonresident parents’ contributions to their children will help reduce poverty and economic difficulties.

Hard Numbers: A Measure Meant for Research, Not Eligibility

Source: Karen K. Harris, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, April 19, 2010

The Federal Poverty Measure is badly in need of revision. The current measure is not an accurate reflection of the resources a family needs to stay healthy and thrive. This six-part series will examine the history of the measure and past and current efforts to reform it.

The Federal Poverty Measure is a decades-old relic that became widely utilized by historical accident. The current measure was created during the mid-1960s by an economist at the Social Security Administration (SSA) who began publishing articles with poverty statistics for the United States using a poverty measure that she had developed.

Federal Food Policy And Childhood Obesity: A Solution Or Part Of The Problem?

Source: Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, and Elizabeth Rigby, Health Affairs, Vol. 29 no. 3, 2010
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From the abstract:
Amid growing concern about childhood obesity, the United States spends billions of dollars on food assistance: providing meals and subsidizing food purchases. We examine the relationship between food assistance and body mass index (BMI) for young, low-income children, who are a primary target population for federal food programs and for efforts to prevent childhood obesity. Our findings indicate that food assistance may unintentionally contribute to the childhood obesity problem in cities with high food prices. We also find that subsidized meals at school or day care are beneficial for children’s weight status, and we argue that expanding access to subsidized meals may be the most effective tool to use in combating obesity in poor children.

2009 Poverty Scorecard Grades

Source: Shriver Center, 2010

From the summary:
As millions lose their jobs, homes, and health insurance during this recession, they look to Congress to come through and help them in their time of need. But does it? Are the representatives in Washington really looking out for the interests of the people who were laid off by a plant closing, lost their health insurance, or face crushing debt as a result of a medical emergency? The 2009 Poverty Scorecard grades the performance of each member of Congress on the most important poverty-related issues that came to a vote in 2009.

State Fact Sheets on Child Welfare Funding 2010

Source: Center for Law and Social Policy, January 21, 2010

Below are links to fact sheets for each of the 50 states on child welfare financing. In addition to data on child welfare expenditures and the sources of this funding, the fact sheets include contextual data such as the number (and percent) of children living in poverty, the number and types of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect, and the number of children in foster care.

Each fact sheet contains sections that:

1. Describe the context for child welfare spending by providing data on abused and neglected children, children in foster care, children who have left foster care, and children living with kin;

2. Identify how much child welfare funding comes from federal, state, and local sources;

3. Identify the major federal funding streams that are used to support child welfare and the amount of child welfare funding that comes from each; and

4. Highlight expenditures and trends within the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Programs, including expenditures for foster care maintenance and adoption assistance payments, administrative and child placement costs, and training.

Hunger and Homelessness Survey

Source: United States Conference of Mayors, December 2009

From the press release:
In the last year, U.S. cities have seen the sharpest increase in the demand for hunger assistance since 1991, an increase in family homelessness and a decrease or leveling in individual homelessness, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) report on the status of Hunger and Homelessness in 27 cities in America (listed below) that was released today at a press conference at the USCM headquarters in Washington, D.C..
See also:
Press conference video
ARRA helps municipalities expand homeless services
Source: American City & County, January 26, 2010

Jail Incarceration, Homelessness, and Mental Health: A National Study

Source: Greg A Greenberg, Robert A. Rosenheck, Psychiatric Services, Vol. 59 No. 2, February 2008

The relationship between homelessness and mental illness in jail inmates is examined. Inmates who had been homeless before incarceration made up 15.3% of the jail population, 7.5 to 11.3 times the rate of homelessness for the general public. Mental illness increased an inmate’s probability of being homeless prior to incarceration.

The Decline Of States In Financing The U.S. Safety Net: Retrenchment In State And Local Social Welfare Spending, 1977-2007

Source: Thomas Gais, Lucy Dadayan, Suho Bae, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, November 2009

This paper examines social welfare spending on the eve of the recession to understand the likely trajectory of funding for different elements of state and local social welfare systems. It finds that state and local spending outside of medical assistance lost much of its real fiscal value since the last recession of 2001-02, especially when inflation-adjusted expenditures are compared to measures of need. Other trends include a growing concentration of state social welfare budgets around medical assistance, declines in federal assistance to states, and growing differences in social service spending across states of different fiscal capacities. The recession may exacerbate most of these developments and, along with the federal stimulus package, reduce the role of state governments in funding the national social welfare system.