Kids in context
The Kids in Context initiative identifies and documents critical gaps in systems designed to support families and children, focusing on where reforms could make the biggest difference. We assess neighborhood, city, state, and national innovations and explore conditions that contribute to their success. We generate concrete lessons for policy and practice from emerging research.

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    Dangerous jobs might seem like good choices to young people living in poverty.


    Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population Health Policy Center
    Research Areas Children and youth
    Tags Assistance for women and children Children's health and development Immigrant children, families, and communities Child care Child care and workers Child support

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    Our Issues

    Our nation’s future prosperity hinges on our children’s capacity to enter adulthood fully equipped to become productive workers and citizens. Yet children growing up in America today face a dual threat to their healthy development. Many parents are struggling to maintain their financial footing in the face of sluggish job growth after the recession, flat or falling wages, and the lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis. At the same time, fiscal pressure has led to cuts in the programs and systems that support children’s development and buffer the effects of their parents’ financial stress. A growing body of evidence suggests that the resulting family instability and insecurity undermine children’s development and weaken parents’ ability to protect their kids.

    Any effective strategy for children must recognize and address the challenges confronting their parents, along with the broader array of community factors and service systems that affect children directly and their parents’ ability to support them. And because children’s health and development are shaped by many factors, outcomes in one area (such as nutrition or school readiness) are affected by actions in other areas (such as work supports or community violence prevention). Solutions require looking beyond narrow definitions of children’s issues and cutting through conventional policy boundaries to find the most cost-effective ways to deploy public resources as part of a coordinated strategy.

    Our Work

    Tackling the threats to our children’s future requires creative strategies to strengthen the protection around children­—their families, their communities, and the systems that support their development—so they can thrive. To advance such multigenerational and multidimensional strategies, advocates, practitioners, and policymakers need reliable information and timely analysis that looks beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines. The Kids in Context initiative identifies and documents critical gaps in systems designed to support families and children, focusing on where reforms could make the biggest difference. We assess neighborhood, city, state, and national innovations and explore conditions that contribute to their success. We generate concrete lessons for policy and practice from emerging research.

    Our researchers are unique in the breadth of expertise and perspectives they bring to this cross-center work. They span the full range of policy systems (from child care to workforce development, from health care to housing, from nutrition to tax policy) and work across traditional academic and research boundaries to examine issues that are too often observed in isolation. Our work is designed to be useful for policymakers, practitioners, and thought leaders working on behalf of children and families.

    Our Impact

    A growing body of research highlights the damage that instability of all kinds inflicts on children’s development and success. We recently hosted a convening of policymakers, practitioners, and researchers from different domains to begin talking about what we know and what we need to do about instability and children’s well-being. The discussion surfaced new ideas about how family supports, housing assistance, child care subsidies, and school assignment policies interact to either exacerbate instability in children’s lives or buffer its effects. 

    Staff

    • Vice President, Health Policy
      Senior Fellow
    • Principal Research Associate
    • Senior Research Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Research Associate
    • Vice President, Income and Benefits Policy
    • Senior Fellow
    • Principal Research Associate
    • Principal Research Associate
    • Consultant
    • Principal Research Associate
    • Senior Fellow
      Project Director for Maintenance and Development of the TRIM3 Model
    • Associate Vice President, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy
    • Principal Research Associate
    • Associate Vice President
    • Distinguished Fellow
      Director of the Public Management Program
    • Principal Research Associate
      Codirector, National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership
    • Senior Fellow
    • Institute Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Institute Fellow
    • Institute Fellow
      Director, HOST Initiative
    • Senior Fellow, Research
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Senior Fellow
    • Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair
    • Senior Fellow
      Research Director, Urban–Greater DC