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The John T. Gorman Foundation strives to be data-driven and results based and seeks to promote information and ideas that advance greater understanding of issues related to our mission and priorities. In our effort to promote these values, we offer these research and best practice resources collected from reputable sources across the country. The library also includes briefs and reports the Foundation has commissioned or supported, a listing of which can be found here.
Inter-state disparities in mortality linked to decades-old public health investments
December 13, 2021 – Families – Mental Health, Place-basedNew England researchers published a new paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, examining the growing inter-state disparity in mid-life mortality. The authors consider that the substantial variation might be linked with educational or income differences, “deaths of despair” (e.g., drug overdoses, suicide), or combinations of place-based policies and conditions. The authors find that the change in mortality over time doesn’t vary much by states’ educational attainment, but that states with the highest income levels, rather than the most income growth, have experienced the greatest mortality declines over time. This is notable since mortality was similar in high- and low-income places just a few decades ago. The authors investigate the possibility that in the 1990s, highincome states invested in health-promoting policy and infrastructure, like higher cigarette taxes and Medicaid expansion. They find also that related, but distinct shifts in health behaviors occurred at the same time in many of the same places, and these elements converge to produce a faster reduction in mortality in high income states. Although place and health have been linked before, the authors argue their work documents the “cumulative effect of regional policies over the life-cycle” in ways that existing research linking health and neighborhoods has not.
Promise Neighborhoods provide a unique opportunity to address racial inequity
December 13, 2021 – Families – Racial EquityThe Urban Institute’s latest research argues that Promise Neighborhoods – the U.S. Department of Education effort launched in 2010 and inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone—are a valuable vehicle for racial equity. Promise Neighborhoods aim at aligning systems from “cradle-to-career,” breaking down silos, and strengthening local resources and systems to provide high-quality education to youths in strong families and well-resourced communities. More than 30 grantees participated in the program, from urban communities a few miles wide to rural places spanning multiple counties. The brief argues that the initiative’s focus on deep, ongoing, and community-wide investment, delivered locally and flexibly, has serious promise for advancing racial equity. However, the author also notes that the programmatic focus of Promise Neighborhoods would benefit from a policy and systems-level lens, and suggests that strong and disaggregated data, wide partnership nets, and an explicit focus on the root causes of racial disparity can further enhance the promise.
New report describes business leaders’ perspectives on, and roles in, childcare
December 7, 2021 – Young Children, Families – Childcare, WorkforceA report from the Bipartisan Policy Center describes findings from a series of roundtable conversations on childcare with business leaders in 2019 and 2020. The report finds that many business leaders are aware of how childcare affects their employees, even if they’re unclear on their role in addressing the challenge. The authors find business size is correlated with capacity to support employee childcare needs, and while very small businesses are interested in supporting their workers, they don’t always have resources to do so. Most business leaders didn’t see onsite childcare provision as feasible, although offering tax incentives to businesses that provide family-friendly leave policies was favored by businesses large and small. The brief recommends business leaders collect information on their employees’ needs, quantify the business effects of inadequate childcare, consider family friendliness of company policy, and partner with local organizations to consider shared solutions.
Expiration of enhanced Child Tax Credit looms, including for 229,000 Maine kids
December 3, 2021 – Families – COVID-19, Food Security, Maine, Racial EquityThe Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports on the status of the Child Tax Credit in December. The credit enhancements, including making the credit fully refundable, increasing the credit’s maximum value, and allowing families to claim 17-year-olds, have infused more than 39 million households with monthly income since July 2021. As the credit expansions were only slated through 2021, those enhancements will be rolled back if the Build Back Better legislation calling for their extension does not pass. CBPP notes that nearly three-fifths of households use their credit in part to offset food costs, and that the loss of this credit would trigger a widening of racial-ethnic gaps in child poverty. About 90 percent of Maine children have been eligible for the expanded credit in 2021, translating to 229,000 Mainers under 18 who would lose out in its absence.
Pandemic brings lower rates of moving than ever before
States, including Maine, are leveraging COVID relief funds to advance equity in childcare
November 30, 2021 – Young Children, Families – Childcare, COVID-19, Education, Mental HealthThe Center for Law and Social Policy has published a factsheet highlighting the ways that some states are investing American Rescue Plan Act funds to advance equity and bake in policy change that will support ongoing federal investment. The report specifically highlights Maine’s plan to use federal relief funds to expand mental health and socioemotional support programming to children and providers, as well as the state’s shift to enrollment-based reimbursement for subsidies (rather than the traditional attendance-based). Other states’ efforts to increase pay, reduce barriers to access through higher eligibility cutoffs or waived copays, stabilize provider revenue through higher subsidy reimbursement, or to support home-based childcare providers are also lauded.
Creative blends of funding bring supportive and affordable housing to rural markets
November 29, 2021 – Families, Seniors – COVID-19, Housing, RuralAs the pandemic continues to put pressure on the housing market and limit available shelter space, some rural communities are seeing homelessness become more visible. Community leaders note the “hidden” nature of rural homelessness, often manifesting in households “doubling up,” and say the perennial rural challenges of sparse funding and low population density complicate relief efforts. An overview from Affordable Housing Finance Magazine describes developer efforts in California, Maryland, and Florida to close those housing gaps by bringing affordable and supportive housing to rural spaces.
Economic Research Service finds rural America losing population
November 18, 2021 – Families – COVID-19, Racial Equity, RuralThe Economic Research Service has released its Rural America at a Glance report for 2021, finding that the rural population shrank by 0.6 percent between 2010 and 2020. The authors find that the decline has been driven by losses in rural counties designated as persistently poor, where the population has dropped by 5.7 percent. In the meantime, urban populations grew by 8.8 percent, and even persistently poor urban places, by 5.8 percent. Analysis of pandemic-era measures show that rural places have experienced more infections per 100,000 residents than urban places, and rural vaccination rates trail urban rates by more than 10 percentage points. While job loss has recovered in both types of places, rural residents in persistently poor places are disadvantaged by their lower broadband connectivity rates. Finally, the paper shows that persistently poor rural counties are twice as racially diverse as their nonpoor rural counterparts. Between population loss, low broadband connectivity, and disproportionately pandemic impacts, the report’s findings suggest that rural Black, Latinx, and American Indian residents face a nexus of economic challenges.
College enrollment down in Maine, but especially in community colleges
November 7, 2021 – Older Youth, Families – COVID-19, Education, Maine, WorkforceThe Portland Press Herald reports substantial declines in Maine’s Community College System enrollment levels since pre-pandemic, with declines happening in both fall 2020 and 2021. Enrollment has also declined, albeit by less than half as much, in the University of Maine System. The article suggests that the greater declines among the community college system are attributable to the demographics of its student body, which tends to enroll more lower-income and non-traditional students who may have been harder hit by the workforce shifts and parenting strains than students in the University setting. In addition, the tight labor market is attracting current and potential students to choose work over enrollment. Within the college systems, administrators also note greater interest in in-person versus virtual, and short-term training or credentialing programs, preferences which may be indicative of trends that predated the pandemic.
Amid national improvement, October jobs report shows no recovery for women and workers of color
November 5, 2021 – Families – COVID-19, Racial Equity, WorkforceAlthough the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report showed a small decline in employment nationwide (4.8 to 4.6 percent), these gains have notbeen uniformly realized. Adult men saw a decline in unemployment of 0.4 percentage points (to 4.3 percent), while adult women experienced a 0.2 percentage point increase (to 4.4 percent). Black unemployment rates remain more than three percentage points higher than the national rate, at 7.9 percent in October, with Hispanic rates also above national levels, at 5.9 percent.
Report gathers evidence on measuring quality in home-based childcare
October 22, 2021 – Young Children, Older Youth, Families – Childcare, Racial EquityAs part of its “Home Based Child Care Supply and Quality Project,” the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation has published a literature review that summarizes features of childcare quality in home-based settings. The work finds wide variation in the definition of home-based childcare (HBCC), but some common features of quality, including those related to learning environments and the provider’s relationships with children and families. The review finds that HBCC providers often excel at certain quality features like mixed age and nontraditional hours care, but also that there is scant scholarship on family friend and neighbor (FFN) care, compared with licensed/registered/listed family childcare (FFC). The paper concludes with recommendations that future research focus on children, families, and providers from historically marginalized groups, on HBCC for older children or children with disabilities, and on drawing in multiple or mixed methods to best understand the breadth and long-term outcomes of HBCC experiences.
Bipartisan Policy Center report identifies roles for community foundations in meeting local childcare challenges
October 21, 2021 – Young Children, Families – ChildcareTo supplement federal and state efforts to support the childcare sector, a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center calls attention to the role that community foundations can play in local-level interventions. The authors suggest that these foundations benefit from deep local knowledge, a high degree of trust, and capacity to leverage non-governmental sources of funding that can support the sector in their own communities. The report highlights the efforts of foundations in eight states, and lists strategies that many foundations share, including funding needs assessments, shared service models, and advocacy efforts.