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Assessing the New Federalism

 

In January 2006, we co-sponsored a roundtable on "Trends and Policies that Affect Low-Income Children: What are the Next Steps?" Policymakers, program directors, researchers, policy experts, and advocates debated the development and well-being of the more than 26 million American children in low-income families.

kids in a laundromat

Photo: Hillary Edwards

Roundtable topics included trends in family circumstances for one-parent and two-parent families, parental work and child care quality, children in immigrant families, and children living in especially vulnerable families.

In August, Reviewing a Decade, Previewing the Future marked the ten-year anniversary of welfare reform. The forum of high-level federal and state policymakers and researchers addressed accomplishments, controversies, and next steps regarding welfare reform. Drawing on a decade of ANF research and state experiences, discussion also covered why many former welfare recipients aren't advancing in the workforce.

ANF research added new insights throughout the year to the poverty debate. Using the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF), a new study showed an improving picture for families on welfare, a relatively stagnant situation for those who left welfare, and deteriorating circumstances for families with no welfare experience.

NSAF also showed us that low-income families with at least one full-time worker fared better than one might expect, thanks to their work effort, earned income, and a generous refundable earned income tax credit. However, this assessment of income and expenses found, families without a full-time worker employed through the year did not appear to have enough income to cover their basic expenses.

After three successful rounds of the NSAF, our survey experts in 2006 summarized this research tool's pioneering features and major accomplishments. The report identified key challenges and important lessons for those conducting future household surveys. Close collaboration between policy and survey design experts proved essential, as was the flexibility to experiment with ways to enhance survey responses.

We also laid the groundwork in 2006 for our new Low-Income Working Families project. Building on the decade of ANF-supported research, the new project will study private employers as well as public programs.

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Urban Institute, Research of Record