07.02.2013 News Releases

A Stronger Safety Net For America’s Children

CHAPEL HILL, NC (July 2, 2013) – The economic difficulties stemming from the Great Recession have demonstrated the short-run and long-run importance of public safety net and work support programs to families with children.

To document the importance of a set of 11 safety net and work support programs, First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization in the District of Columbia, commissioned South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy,  to prepare a report that explains the need for public safety nets and work supports, identifies the challenges facing those initiatives, and profiles some of the promising reform efforts underway in the states.

Written by John Quinterno, the report, entitled A Stronger Safety Net for America’s Children, explores three major gaps in public safety net and work support programs:

  1. The Eligibility Gap – When children’s families need help but are not eligible under current law;
  2. The Coverage Gap – When eligible children do not get the help for which they are eligible, often because of confusing eligibility rules, burdensome paperwork requirements, or simply because governments failed to invest in outreach; and
  3. The Hardship Gap – When eligible children receive help through safety net initiatives, but the resources provided are insufficient to provide a solid foundation for parents climbing the economic ladder.
The report further offers recommendations for closing the three gaps. Because many safety net initiatives are federal-state partnerships, these recommendations include simplifying eligibility polices to eliminate duplicative or onerous requirements, streamlining procedures to reduce paperwork burdens on both families and state governments, and improving workflow and information technology management.
Generous funding for the report was provided by the Foundation for Child Development, a philanthropic organization in New York City.
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