Stability and Self-Sufficiency for Low-Income Families

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January 16, 2014
February 3, 2014
Creative Writing/University of Chicago


Chapin Hall Child and Family Policy Forum
How Do We Promote Stability and Self-Sufficiency for Low-Income Families with Safety Net Programs?
The University of Chicago
January 16, 2014

Low-income families must overcome a number of obstacles in order to achieve economic self-sufficiency--they may have unmet needs for financial stability, nutrition, child care, health care access, education, or employment supports. Since the Great Recession, many low-income families have struggled with sustaining self-sufficiency and achieving economic mobility. At the same time, there has been a resurgence in interest at the federal level in family self-sufficiency research. Yet, in addition to their duties of promoting stability and increasing the safety net for low-income families, describing the nature of "self-sufficiency" presents its own challenge for policymakers. The idea of family self-sufficiency is broad, and success can be defined differently amongst policymakers. For example, is success achieved when families are able to make ends meet, are self-reliant, or no longer require the support of government programs?

In this forum we discussed the nature of self-sufficiency and the ways different systems view economic instability. We also discussed the present challenges and opportunities for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners who work to understand the ways that federal policies can affect income instability, and the relationship between employment supports and poverty.