The first paper (Child Support Policy in Middle and Low-Income Countries) sets the context by providing a broad overview of what is known about child support policy in countries not typically studied. The paper is based on a systematic literature search of 31 countries and quantitative analyses of household survey responses in 6 countries. The paper describes policy similarities and differences across countries, paying special attention to how policy in these countries compares to that of high-income countries. The next two papers examine child custody. In the second paper (Shared Care and Family Policy) the authors consider four family policy areas in 11 countries, focusing on whether these policies acknowledge and respond to shared care (in which children spend half or nearly half their time with each parent after parental separation). This policy analysis shows substantial variation in whether and how countries are responding to this emerging family form. The third paper, "Sharing Care and Sharing Costs?" is a more focused analysis of the effects of shared care policy in Finland and Wisconsin. Using survey data from each country and quantitative methods, the authors examine whether families with shared care have child support arrangements, and how decisions about sharing other child-related expenses are made. The final paper, "Inequitable Access to Relative Caregiving: Implications for Foster Care Regulation in Finland, New Zealand, and the United States" changes the lens from policies for children living with one parent to children who have been removed, exploring the policies in three countries for how easy it is to use kin care within the foster care system. This analysis evaluates the policies in place on three criteria.
The symposium is capped by a senior discussant. A US policy scholar will discuss the implications of these papers for US policy as well as the strengths and limits of comparative policy research. The audience not only learns about the ways several countries structure policy and the effects of these different policies for economically vulnerable families, but also is challenged to consider changes to US policy.