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Families and Parenting

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Urban Institute experts study public policies' effects on families and parents. We analyze family-leave policies, public supports for families, and government policies aimed at strengthening marriage. Our Low-Income Working Families project explores the hardships of employed families struggling to make ends meet.

A third of all families with children (13.4 million families) have incomes less than twice the federal poverty line. A sudden job loss or health crisis could derail them. Tax credits, food stamps, child care subsidies, and other work supports help. But they don't always close the gap between earnings and basic needs. Urban Institute analysts have proposed new initiatives to protect low-income working families and help them get ahead.

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Designing a Home Visiting Framework for Families in Public and Mixed-Income Communities (Research Report)
Marla McDaniel, Caroline Heller, Gina Adams, Susan J. Popkin

Though young children in public and mixed-income housing are exposed to some of the deepest poverty and developmental and educational risks in the United States, they are usually out of reach of many interventions that might help. Home visiting programs hold promise for helping vulnerable families, but most are not designed to fully address the needs of public and mixed-income housing residents. This brief describes important issues that program planners and early childhood leaders should consider when designing appropriate and responsive home visiting programs that reach young children in these communities.

Posted to Web: October 30, 2014Publication Date: October 30, 2014

Small-Dollar Credit: Consumer Needs and Industry Challenges (Summary)
Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Caleb Quakenbush

Managing finances can be a tightrope walk, especially for low- and moderate-income families. To deal with these challenges, many households turn to expensive small-dollar credit. This brief, based on a convening of 25 small-dollar credit researchers, credit union experts, and bank representatives, discusses the opportunities and challenges of providing small-dollar credit products. Ability to repay, flexibility, and transparency are important features for consumer success. Products that bundle credit with savings provide pathways to greater financial stability. Small loan amounts, the costs of underwriting and servicing loans, and regulatory and reputational risks pose challenges to providers.

Posted to Web: October 28, 2014Publication Date: October 28, 2014

CHIPRA Mandated Evaluation of the Children's Health Insurance Program: Final Findings (Research Report)
Genevieve M. Kenney, Lisa Clemans-Cope, Ian Hill, Stacey McMorrow, Jennifer M. Haley, Timothy Waidmann, Sarah Benatar, Matthew Buettgens, Victoria Lynch, Nathaniel Anderson, Additional Authors

This report presents findings from an evaluation of CHIP mandated by CHIPRA and patterned after an earlier evaluation. Some of the evaluation findings are at the national level, while others focus on the 10 states selected for more intensive study: Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The evaluation included a large survey conducted in 2012 of CHIP enrollees and disenrollees in the 10 states, and Medicaid enrollees and disenrollees in three of these states. It also included case studies conducted in each of the 10 survey states in 2012 and a national telephone survey of CHIP administrators conducted in early 2013.

Posted to Web: October 24, 2014Publication Date: August 01, 2014

Child Care Assistance for Parents in Education and Training: Executive Summary (Research Brief)
Gina Adams, Caroline Heller, Shayne Spaulding, Teresa Derrick-Mills

New economic realities have focused attention on how to best design workforce development strategies to help low-wage and low-skill workers succeed. Lack of child care is one important barrier that can make it difficult for low-income parents to successfully participate in workforce development programs that help people find jobs, job readiness activities, and supportive services. This brief focuses on one element of this barrier: the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), the federal and state child care assistance program. It examines CCDF eligibility policies and services for parents who need child care to participate in education and training activities.

Posted to Web: October 09, 2014Publication Date: October 09, 2014

Balancing School, Work, and Family: Low-Income Parents' Participation in Education and Training (Research Report)
Lauren Eyster, Thomas Callan, Gina Adams

A key policy concern is how to best help low-income individuals gain the skills and credentials they need to find a well-paying job. However, low-income parents in particular may face certain barriers, such as access to reliable child care. This brief uses nationally-representative data to examine the education and training participation of low-income parents and understand their personal and family characteristics, both for those who do and do not engage in education and training. The brief discusses implications for workforce development and child care policy and programs to better support these parents as they balance school, work and family responsibilities.

Posted to Web: October 08, 2014Publication Date: October 08, 2014

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