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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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Insights on Instability and Children's Development: Commentaries from Practitioners, Policymakers, and Researchers (Commentary)
Gina Adams

Concern is growing about the damage that instability can do to children's healthy development. However it has emerged separately across different domains, with little focus on the pervasive and interconnected nature of the issue or on possible cross-cutting policy solutions. In November 2013, the Urban Institute convened policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to discuss the implications of instability for children's development, as well as what we know, need to learn, and need to do across research, policy, and practice. This paper contains essays from some of the meeting participants; a companion report includes the insights from the conference.

Posted to Web: July 22, 2014Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Exploring Instability and Children's Well-Being: Insights from a Dialogue among Practitioners, Policymakers and Researchers (Research Report)
Gina Adams, Lisa Dubay

Concern is growing about the damage that instability can do to children's healthy development. However it has emerged separately across different domains, with little focus on the pervasive and interconnected nature of the issue or on possible cross-cutting policy solutions. This report presents the insights gleaned from a November 2013 convening of policymakers, practitioners, and researchers about the implications of stability and instability for children's development, as well as what we know, what we need to learn, and what we need to do across research, policy, and practice. A companion report includes essays from some of the meeting participants.

Posted to Web: July 22, 2014Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Randomized Controlled Trials and Financial Capability: Why, When, and How (Research Brief)
Brett Theodos, Margaret Simms, Rachel Brash, Claudia Ayanna Sharygin, Dina Emam

Financial capability programs have proliferated in recent years, but rigorous research into which programs and methods are effective has not kept pace. Practitioners, policymakers, and funders are increasingly calling for rigorous financial capability research, including randomized controlled trial studies (RCTs), which can produce the highest standard of evidence. In April 2013, the Urban Institute and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hosted a roundtable on the benefits and challenges of financial capability RCTs. The group agreed that RCTs are most suitable for well-established and scalable programs. Frontline staff should be fully invested in the study and involved in designing implementation and data-collection strategies.

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

Understanding the Dynamics of Disconnection from Employment and Assistance (Research Report)
Heather Sandstrom, Kristin S. Seefeldt, Sandra Huerta, Pamela J. Loprest

Low-income individuals who are not employed or receiving TANF are often referred to as “disconnected.” This study uses interview data from a sample of 51 disconnected, unmarried mothers from Southeast Michigan and Los Angeles, California to learn about their experiences related to work and benefit receipt. In Michigan, many women had hit the TANF time limit but could not find employment. In Los Angeles, some women preferred to stay home to care for young children, but others lacked child care and work experience. Immigrant mothers struggled without working papers. Despite receiving assistance from different sources, material hardship was quite common.

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Posted to Web: June 02, 2014Publication Date: June 02, 2014

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