Senior Director and Senior Fellow
The safety net has been more effective than critics suggest, the Center’s Robert Greenstein, Sharon Parrott, and I explain in a chapter for Improving the Odds for America’s Children, which Harvard Education Press has just published.
For our chapter, we reviewed the last 40 years of anti-poverty policies for children and offered ideas for future decades.
Here’s some of what we found, and some of what we proposed:
Household incomes have risen since 1973 for the poorest fifth of children if you include the value of non-cash benefits, as most experts favor (the official poverty figures omit them). If you eliminated the safety net today, another 9 million children would fall into poverty.
Also, studies show that income from safety-net programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC) and SNAP (formerly food stamps) has a powerful effect on children’s long-term success, in school and beyond.
Yet poverty and hardship continue to stunt many children’s futures. To help families obtain incomes that are adequate to raise successful children, we recommend steps in three core areas:
Other chapters provide analysis and policy ideas from noted experts such as Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane (on inequality), Sara Rosenbaum (health care), Deborah Jewell-Sherman (education), Jane Waldfogel and Michael Wald (child protection and family support), Joan Lombardi (child care), and others.