Policy Supports for Low-Income Families with Young Children: Implications for Parentsí Employment and Family Wellbeing

Saturday, January 17, 2015: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Balconies L, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Work, Family, and Family Policy
Symposium Organizer:
Alexandra B. Stanczyk, AM, University of Chicago
Susan J. Lambert, PhD, University of Chicago
In the US a diverse set of public programs provide support to low-income families with very young children. A range of programs including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Medicaid; early childhood education and child care programs; and paid leave programs provided in some states through Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) all serve this population. In addition to the support low-income families with young children may receive from social programs, income from parents’ employment has become crucial to the economic security of these families. Therefore, building understanding about how the set of public programs and services available to disadvantaged families with young children shapes parents’ work and employment, as well as overall family wellbeing, has become a major goal of social work and social welfare research. This symposium brings together a diverse set of papers that expand our understanding in this research area. This symposium will be relevant to a wide range of researchers and practitioners including those interested in child health and development, maternal employment, work and family policy, gender, and social policy analysis.

The first paper uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and a difference-in-difference design to show how the generosity of state-administered programs supporting parents of young children - Medicaid, WIC and TANF – and the availability of paid leave through state TDI and/or PFL programs affect the likelihood that less-educated mothers will quit a job during pregnancy or following birth, which has implications for family resources and maternal and child wellbeing. The second paper focuses on low-income fathers of young children, a group that receives little attention in this field of research, and childcare, a key support for disadvantaged new parents. Using a sample of low-income fathers of young children in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, the authors show how childcare characteristics and instability matter for fathers’ work disruptions (missing work and job quits), experiences of work-family conflict, and fathers’ parenting stress. The third paper looks in detail at two types of state-level programs that may be particularly important to low-income families with a new infant – TANF and TDI/PFL – and turns the attention from parental employment to family resources and overall financial wellbeing. This study shows how measures of TANF generosity and the availability of paid leave through TDI and/or PFL predict whether families will receive financial support from the TANF program immediately following a birth, and the likelihood the family will report experiences of material hardship during the infants’ first year of life. Each presentation will discuss implications for social work and social welfare research, policy and practice.

* noted as presenting author
Maternity-Leave Job Quitting By Less-Educated Mothers: What Is the Role of State-Level Safety Net and Maternity Leave Policies?
Marci Ybarra, PhD, University of Chicago; Heather Hill, PhD, University of Chicago
TANF Generosity, State-Provided Maternity Leave and the Material Wellbeing of Low-Income Families with Infants
Marci Ybarra, PhD, University of Chicago; Alexandra B. Stanczyk, AM, University of Chicago; Yoonsook Ha, Boston University
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