Reducing Foster Care Placement Through Equity-Focused Implementation of Family First

All children deserve safety, protection, and the opportunity to thrive. And all families deserve support in their efforts to provide a safe and stable environment for their children. The child welfare system is vital to protecting children—but it has disproportionately failed American Indian and Alaska Native, Black, and Latinx children and families. By prioritizing preventative services, programs, and kinship care funded by the Family First Prevention Services Act, child welfare programs can increase the safety and well-being of children and families and reduce unnecessary family separation and foster care placement. This brief highlights progress made by federal child welfare administrators and outlines additional steps they can take to reduce foster care placement through equity-focused implementation of Family First in 2024 and beyond.

Administrative Actions for a Family-Centered Child Support Program

All children and their families deserve resources to take care of their needs, regardless of their family structure. The child support program—which obtains and disburses financial support for millions of children and their custodial parents—should improve family economic security. Ensuring regular child support payments are directed to families and eliminating harmful enforcement measures against parents who are unable to pay would help foster child and family well-being. This brief highlights progress made by federal child support administrators and outlines additional steps they can take to build a more equitable child support program in 2024 and beyond.

Re-Envisioning Medicaid & CHIP as Anti-Racist Programs

Racial and ethnic disparities in the health care system have long impeded our nation’s health and well-being. For everyone in the U.S. to achieve their full potential—and for our nation to achieve its full potential—we must ensure equitable access to high-quality health care. This report presents an anti-racist re-imagining of the Medicaid and CHIP programs that actively reckons with the racist history of health care coverage. The report offers recommendations to advance racial equity in Medicaid and CHIP. It also provides principles to guide anti-racist policy transformations that center program participants and their communities.

How to fix segregation by college major and in the workforce

Over the past three decades, segregation across groups of majors, or fields of study, between women of color and White men has increased. This segregation threatens equal opportunity and contributes to a segregated workforce — which negatively impacts wages, job security and career mobility for millions of workers, especially women and Black and Brown people. Even as topline statistics on diversity in overall enrollment improve, higher education institutions shouldn’t miss critical opportunities to ensure that women and students of color are aware of, feel welcome in, and can participate in all fields of study. 

Re-Envisioning TANF: Toward an Anti-Racist Program That Meaningfully Serves Families

An America where no one experiences poverty is possible. Already, the U.S. has programs with the potential to make this vision a reality, including programs that provide cash assistance, like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The current TANF program provides very little cash assistance and is marked by stark racial disparities, but it has the potential to reduce child poverty, increase economic security, and advance racial equity. This report offers a vision for an anti-racist approach to the TANF program, with new statutory goals and policy recommendations to advance racial justice.

Six Ways Predominantly White Institutions Can Interrupt Occupational Segregation

Predominantly white institutions (PWIs) educate about 70% of all bachelor’s degree graduates and about half of all students of color. Students at PWIs tend to be segregated across fields of study, with women and people of color overrepresented in majors that lead to lower-paying occupations. Administrators at PWIs have a major opportunity to interrupt this segregation and promote inclusion and success of students of color in postsecondary education. This brief offers six key recommendations that administrators at PWIs can implement to reduce field of study segregation and shape a more equitable and dynamic future workforce.

From Exclusion to Opportunity: The Role of Postsecondary Education in Labor Force Segregation & Recommendations for Action

A four-year postsecondary degree offers opportunities for a higher income and upward economic mobility. However, postsecondary education—historically inaccessible to people of color and women—also plays a key role in reproducing and amplifying societal inequities by sorting students into specialized fields of study by race and gender, contributing to a segregated labor force. This report examines the link between postsecondary field of study and labor market segregation using an original quantitative analysis. This report presents four principles and corresponding recommendations that postsecondary institutions and policymakers can use to reduce racial and gender segregation across fields of study, increase degree attainment, and ultimately, ameliorate labor market segregation.

Obstacles to Opportunity: Increasing College Success by Understanding & Addressing Older Students’ Costs Beyond Tuition

Higher education offers millions of people the opportunity to improve their financial well-being. However, higher education is prohibitively expensive and can saddle people with insurmountable debt. Costs beyond tuition—such as housing, food, child care, and transportation—are large, essential components of the cost of attending college for students. In order to better understand how these living costs add up and vary, this report offers estimates of costs beyond tuition for older students between the ages of 25 – 45, who make up roughly one-third of college students and face unique barriers to college access and completion. The report shows that the real cost of college for older students is higher than commonly understood, examines older students’ challenges with financial aid and public benefits programs, and offers policy recommendations to address costs beyond tuition and improve college access and success for older students.

Who Are Essential Workers? The U.S Economy Depends on Women, People of Color, & Immigrant Workers

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, essential workers have supported the well-being of our communities and the economy, but inconsistencies in federal, state, and local essential worker policies have limited some workers’ access to paid sick days, greater compensation, and other benefits. This brief, published jointly with the Workers’ Rights Institute, provides an inclusive definition of essential workers, and finds that women, people of color, and immigrants are over-represented in the essential workforce and face increased risks related to COVID-19.

Driving Home Costs Beyond Tuition: A New Look at Older Students’ Challenges Affording Housing

For many students, the real cost of college is even higher than commonly understood. Although rising tuition costs limit college affordability, living costs—such as housing, food, and transportation—are equally essential for students striving to afford and complete college. This report examines older students’ particular challenges to college completion, describes how current measurements of costs beyond tuition do not adequately reflect older students’ experiences, and offers new estimates of older students’ spending on housing, which is typically the single greatest cost older students face.