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Supporting Unlicensed Kinship Caregivers, Family Ties: Analysis From a State-By-State Survey of Kinship Care Policies

April 8, 2024

A policy survey fielded in 2022 for the Annie E. Casey Foundation by Child Trends shines new light on inequitable support for children living with unlicensed kinship caregivers. This brief shares findings about states' placement requirements, services and financial assistance for unlicensed caregivers. The role of unlicensed kinship caregivers in children's lives is no less than that of licensed foster parents, kin or unrelated; and the expenses of caring for children are the same. Yet unlicensed caregivers do not have the same access to support as kin or non-kin licensed foster parents, the survey found. Many agencies offer these caregivers fewer and different types of support and training. The survey asked states about policies not practices, therefore some states may provide additional support or conduct approval processes that were not included in their survey responses. 

Unlocking Foster Care Licensing for More Kinship Caregivers, Family Ties: Analysis From a State-By-State Survey of Kinship Care Policies

March 19, 2024

This brief explores survey data about two state policies that can help kinship caregivers obtain foster home licenses. The first policy is provisional or emergency licensure — a process through which kin receive a temporary license that allows them to begin caring for a child who is in state custody before the caregivers have met all required standards of foster parent licensing. A timely placement with relatives or close family friends can help reduce the trauma of being separated from parents, siblings, friends, communities and social support resources such as schools and churches. The second policy governs the availability of waivers for certain foster home licensing requirements that do not affect a child's safety. These policies can reduce barriers to licensure — and all the resources associated with licensure — for relatives. 

Family Ties: Analysis From a State-By-State Survey of Kinship Care Policies

March 14, 2024

Family binds us together. Consistent, loving relationships with family, relatives and close family friends — often called kin — are essential for supporting child and adolescent development. When children are not able to live with their parents, research and firsthand accounts show they thrive best with kin. Kinship caregivers offer stability and connections to family, community, culture and education. Supporting these relationships is vital for children involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, and especially crucial for Black, Indigenous and Latino communities to safeguard their children and heritage against discriminatory practices, policies and barriers that have persisted for generations.Although states and the federal government agree that kin are a critical resource, particularly for children and youth who come to the attention of the child welfare system, states vary widely in their policies for kin placement and support. To help build an understanding of the full landscape of kinship policies across states and to identify needed improvements, the Annie E. Casey Foundation asked Child Trends to conduct a survey of state child welfare administrators. The survey, fielded in 2022, updates and expands on the findings of a similarly comprehensive survey conducted in 2007. Agencies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico received the 2022 survey. Forty-six completed it.The 2022 survey offers a broad look at state policies on kinship caregiving across many stages of child welfare involvement. This executive summary highlights the survey's key findings. Other briefs in this series will provide a deeper examination of topics important to local, state and federal policy discussions. Comparisons of the 2022 and 2007 survey data reveal 15 years of progress, long-standing challenges and emerging opportunities for policymakers and others to strengthen kinship caregiving.

Medicaid Postpartum Coverage: Expanding Health Care Coverage After Pregnancy

September 1, 2023

Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year is an important step in improving maternal health outcomes—a core component of reproductive well-being. As of September 2023, 37 states have already implemented a 12-month extension on postpartum Medicaid coverage, and nine more states have announced plans to implement an extension.

Building on CalAIM’s Housing Supports: Strengthening Medi-Cal for People Experiencing Homelessness

August 10, 2023

California's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, is undergoing an ambitious transformation known as CalAIM (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal).  A key focus of this transformation is removing barriers to care for populations who struggle to access services, including people experiencing homelessness. A critical goal of CalAIM is a more person-centered approach to publicly funded health care.This paper, from the Corporation for Supportive Housing, rests on a foundation of extensive research and examines the successes, challenges, and opportunities in providing person-centered care to people experiencing homelessness. In Part 1, the authors describe in detail how homelessness undermines a person's health. When people live outdoors or without reliable shelter, existing health issues are made worse, and people develop new ones. Californians experiencing homelessness die in large numbers from causes directly related to their lack of housing.The primary driver of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. Part 2 describes opportunities in CalAIM, in the Providing Access and Transforming Health (PATH)  initiative, and in the Home and Community-Based Services Spending Plan to fund housing support services that connect people to housing and help keep people stably housed. This section also includes explanations of CalAIM's Enhanced Care Management benefit and Community Supports, seven of which specifically focus on people experiencing homelessness.Despite the promise of CalAIM and related programs, CalAIM's impact has been limited to date. Part 3 describes the challenges providers and managed care plans face in implementing CalAIM and the provision of housing support services. Health care and social service providers offering services under CalAIM must navigate differing reimbursement rates — which may not be enough — and differing requirements set by each managed care plan, even among plans operating in the same county. Managed care plans may not know how best to identify and reach people experiencing homelessness, and to connect people to housing and housing support services. Meanwhile, people who are unhoused must still find and access the care and services they need by navigating complex systems of care and fragmented provider networks.

Cash Empowers: Rise Up Cambridge bridges gaps for families

June 27, 2023

The brief by the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) reveals the pressures low-income families are facing in a city whose cost of living is 73 percent higher than the national average. CCF found that:Just over 60 percent of Cambridge's Black and African American families with children make half or less of what the Economic Policy Institute considers a living wage.The median income of single mothers is $29,000—just 15 percent of the $191,000 citywide median for married couples with kids.More than half of the people in eligible families are 21 or younger, with the largest share under age 12. That's nearly 4,000 Cambridge children whose circumstances make it hard for them to live up to their potential and become thriving members of the community.The Rise Up Cambridge program aims to help change these statistics. It is a $22 million City of Cambridge program run in partnership with Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, the Cambridge Community Foundation, and Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee that supports families with children making up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line—$66,250 for a family of four. The program is the only one in the country that's not lottery-based, offering all eligible families $500 cash assistance for 18 months. Funds will be distributed beginning July 1.

Implementing State-Level Policy and Operational Processes That Enhance Access to Medicaid Family Planning Program Services

June 7, 2023

Medicaid provides a critical source of health care coverage for low-income individuals in the United States, including 13 million women of reproductive age. Medicaid is also the primary source of family planning coverage, accounting for 75% of public expenditures for family planning services in the United States. State Medicaid programs have a long-standing requirement to provide family planning services in the benefits package that is provided to people enrolled in full-scope coverage. In order to expand the number of people who can access family planning services, states have also taken the option to establish Medicaid family planning programs that cover a suite of family planning services for individuals not otherwise eligible for full-scope Medicaid.States have considerable flexibility in designing their Medicaid family planning programs. As a result, access to and utilization of Medicaid family planning programs are largely impacted by the policies and operational processes a state Medicaid program chooses to implement. The decisions a state makes related to its application process, consumer outreach, confidentiality policies, scope of covered benefits and provider network are all critical programmatic features that determine how easy or difficult it is for an individual to enroll in and receive services through Medicaid family planning programs.To promote access and utilization, this issue brief provides an array of best practice strategies in place across the nation to serve as an actionable road map for states that might be considering adopting such a program as well as states with existing programs looking to bolster participation and utilization rates. The strategies are derived from a review of national literature and policies and practices across the country and informed by an analysis of participation rates and utilization of services in 22 of the 30 states with programs in place.

Community Health Is Maternal Health: Insights from Six North Carolina Counties about Community Strengths and Challenges to Best Maternal and Infant Health in Medicaid

May 8, 2023

High rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, and late initiation of prenatal care can be asign of poor health and high levels of social risk factors in a community. On the otherhand, early entry into prenatal care and better-than-expected birth outcomes can signala supportive community environment. We identified six counties in North Carolina withbetter-than- and worse-than-expected birth outcomes among Medicaid members(Bladen, Catawba, Cumberland, Halifax, Orange, and Wayne; Johnston et al.,forthcoming) and interviewed public health officials and health care and social serviceproviders in each county to examine community-level strengths and challenges tooptimal maternal and infant health. As North Carolina looks to improve birth outcomesand reduce health disparities in its new Medicaid managed care program, findings fromthis study can provide useful insights.

Fostering Youth Transitions 2023: State and National Data to Drive Foster Care Advocacy

May 8, 2023

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is always a time of great change. For young people who have experienced the trauma of being removed from their families and entering foster care, states become responsible for providing the support and learning opportunities that help teenagers and young adults keep pace with their peers and grow into productive, healthy adults.This resource is a unique compilation of data designed to inform federal and state policy efforts aimed at making a difference for young people in foster care. This overview brief and detailed profiles of the latest available data from all 50 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, expand on the Annie E. Casey Foundation's first Fostering Youth Transitions brief, published in 2018. The expanded data report for 2023 offers state data profiles that trace the experiences of young people ages 14 to 21 who were in foster care between 2006 and 2021. These publications can help advocates, policymakers and practitioners raise national awareness of the unmet needs of young people who experience foster care and spur data-driven systems and policy change to help youth succeed in adulthood.

Expanded Child Tax Credits: Impact and Experiences - Spending on Basic Needs (Spotlight on Illinois)

April 28, 2023

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Congress passed major funding packages that included financial assistance payments to supplement the incomes of individuals and families. In response, the Get My Payment Illinois (GMPIL) Coalition formed in April 2020 to help low-income Illinoisans receive stimulus funds. The coalition is comprised of the Economic Awareness Council, New America Chicago, Heartland Alliance, and Heartland Human Care Services. In May 2020, the coalition launched a website, GetMyPaymentIL.org. In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) increased and expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The coalition began to also work with government and nonprofit partners to spread the word about the Child Tax Credit (CTC).Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) and New America Chicago engaged in research for GMPIL to (a) share the impact of CTC expansion on low-income Illinois families to bolster the case for a permanently expanded federal CTC and (b) advocate for improvements to the IRS non-filer tool to strengthen access to the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit in the long-term. IMPACT focused primarily on accomplishing the first research goal. To that end, we analyzed data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey (IPUMS CPS) and the Household Pulse Survey to estimate Illinois families' take up of CTC payments, including demographics--and how they spent those payments--as well as demographics of eligible families who did not receive CTC payments. We conducted interviews with eight families who claimed CTC payments and were intermittent filers (i.e., did not file taxes every year) to learn about their experiences claiming CTC and the impact of the CTC on their lives.Results from this study showed that only a little over half of eligible Latino/a/x and two thirds of eligible Asian families received CTC payments, compared to about three-quarters of eligible White, Black, and multiracial families. Middle-income families made up the largest portion of CTC recipients compared to higher and lower[1]income families. Most families used CTC payments mostly to pay off debt. CTC payments helped low-income families reduce financial insecurities, but families also experienced barriers in accessing payments. Results on spending behaviors showed that the top use for funds was on food, followed by clothing and utilities / telecommunications. 

Expanded Child Tax Credits: Impact and Experiences - Access to Child Tax Credits (Spotlight on Illinois)

April 28, 2023

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Congress passed major funding packages that included financial assistance payments to supplement the incomes of individuals and families. In response, the Get My Payment Illinois (GMPIL) Coalition formed in April 2020 to help low-income Illinoisans receive stimulus funds. The coalition is comprised of the Economic Awareness Council, New America Chicago, Heartland Alliance, and Heartland Human Care Services. In May 2020, the coalition launched a website, GetMyPaymentIL.org. In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) increased and expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The coalition began to also work with government and nonprofit partners to spread the word about the Child Tax Credit (CTC).Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) and New America Chicago engaged in research for GMPIL to (a) share the impact of CTC expansion on low-income Illinois families to bolster the case for a permanently expanded federal CTC and (b) advocate for improvements to the IRS non-filer tool to strengthen access to the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit in the long-term. IMPACT focused primarily on accomplishing the first research goal. To that end, we analyzed data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey (IPUMS CPS) and the Household Pulse Survey to estimate Illinois families' take up of CTC payments, including demographics--and how they spent those payments--as well as demographics of eligible families who did not receive CTC payments. We conducted interviews with eight families who claimed CTC payments and were intermittent filers (i.e., did not file taxes every year) to learn about their experiences claiming CTC and the impact of the CTC on their lives.Results from this study showed that only a little over half of eligible Latino/a/x and two thirds of eligible Asian families received CTC payments, compared to about three-quarters of eligible White, Black, and multiracial families. Middle-income families made up the largest portion of CTC recipients compared to higher and lower income families. Most families used CTC payments mostly to pay off debt. CTC payments helped low-income families reduce financial insecurities, but families also experienced barriers in accessing payments.In regards to accessing child tax credits, previous research has shown eligible families with the lowest incomes were the least likely to receive Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments. Other types of eligible families who may not have gotten some or all of their CTC include families who did not filed taxes in 2019, 2020, 2021, or 2022; families who did not use the Internal Revenue Service's non-filer tool in 2021 to claim CTC; and families with immigrant parents whose children have social security numbers.  

The Art of Economic Justice: An Impact Report on Guaranteed Income Pilots for Artists and Creative Workers in Minnesota

February 9, 2023

In 2021, Springboard for the Arts launched one of the first Guaranteed Income pilots in the country focused on individual artists and creative workers.This innovative pilot and narrative change strategy was designed in partnership with the City of St. Paul's People's Prosperity Pilot guaranteed income program. The City of St. Paul is a leader in the national Mayors for Guaranteed Income network, which works to incorporate learning and research from local pilots into state and federal policy recommendations.Springboard undertook this work to demonstrate that artists should be recipients of economic system change and that they are powerful allies in movements for economic justice.The goals of Springboard's GI original pilot were:1) Provide 25 artists and creative workers located in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of St. Paul, MN with $500 monthly payments for 18 months.2) Support a cohort of artists to lead narrative change projects to build understanding about the need for economic justice in our community.3) Develop research and inform policy by specifically demonstrating the impact that guaranteed income has on artist communities and the ways in which artists can contribute their skills to movements around economic justice.