Resource Library

COVID-19 Update: The John T. Gorman Foundation is curating a list of resources, emerging best practices, and innovative ideas from across the country to help local organizations serve vulnerable Mainers during the coronavirus outbreak. To access those resources, visit or enter Covid-19 in the keyword search. Those results can be further focused by using the “Filter by” menu above to filter by population type (Young Children, Older Youth, Families, and Seniors) or by clicking the following links: childcare, education, food security, housing, rural areas, and workforce.

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.


Patterns in flu vaccination rates reveal potential COVID-19 vaccination challenges

January 21, 2021 – Families

A new brief from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) uses flu vaccination data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify populations likely to be harder to reach with the COVID19 vaccination. The researchers report that overall adult flu vaccination rates in 2017-2019 were 39 percent—about half the level that would be needed to reach herd immunity against COVID-19. (Maine’s rate was 41 percent). Although some sub-groups at risk for COVID-19 demonstrate higher uptake of flu vaccines—older adults and those with pre-existing health conditions—low-income, Black, and Hispanic groups have significantly lower than average rates of flu vaccination. The authors further caution that the multiple doses necessary could further complicate delivery of this specific vaccine. Recognizing states as made of multiple, diverse populations, many of whom will require targeted outreach, will be key to achieving population immunity. #covid-19 #racialequity

Pandemic provides lessons for child welfare system

January 19, 2021 – Families

Scholars from the American Enterprise Institute partnered with experts in academia, state departments, and the law to outline some of the challenges that COVID-19 has wrought for child welfare systems, and the lessons to be gleaned from this era. The report notes that while the stressors of the pandemic have likely heightened child maltreatment incidence, state child welfare systems have received fewer reports than usual during the pandemic. With fewer opportunities for reporting via schools, and state departments delaying, canceling, and reconfiguring usual child welfare activities, the risks to children are especially high. The authors suggest finding ways to detect maltreatment outside of schools (note that many of these suggestions amount to mandating greater surveillance of poor and low income parents). Other suggestions focus on enhancing system logistics: deeming child welfare workers as essential so that they may continue timely work, allowing virtual court proceedings to avoid placement delays for children, strengthening foster parent recruitment efforts, and better integrating child welfare systems with community agencies that can serve to meet families’ other needs. #covid-19

Pandemic sparks changes to standardized testing, reducing burdens for low income students

January 19, 2021 – Older Youth

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that COVID-19 has triggered long-considered changes to standardized testing; in the latest example, the College Board is nixing SAT Subject Tests and the SAT’s essay section. Citing declining demand for these offerings, particularly amid remote-learning environments, the College Board is discontinuing these tests effective immediately. The Chronicle notes widespread support among educators and advocates, who have long criticized the tests as a barrier to college entrance for lower-income students and students of color who are less likely to have access to specialized tutoring and insider knowledge that can enhance test performance. Still, some experts warn that the loss of these specific tests means college admissions offices will simply substitute emphasis on Advanced Placement exams or extracurricular activities, which would still leave lower-income students at a disadvantage. #covid-19 #education #racialequity

Disrupted plans for post-secondary education especially consequential for low income students

January 13, 2021 – Older Youth, Families

Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce researchers report on data from the National Student Clearinghouse and the Household Pulse Survey, finding that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in lower college enrollment, a finding that bucks the trend of higher enrollment in every recession since the 1960s. The authors find that among households where at least one person had postsecondary plans for fall 2020, 37 percent canceled plans entirely for pandemic-related health or income reasons. These shifts were especially prevalent in low-income households and households with members seeking a certificate or training program diploma (54 percent, versus the 25 percent of households whose members sought a bachelor’s degree). Those seeking bachelor’s degrees were more likely to pivot to remote learning, an option less available for training programs. The authors argue that because delayed and disrupted college-going is linked with increasing heightened risk of noncompletion, some of these low income students may never attend college, further calcifying structures of inequality between high and low income populations. #covid-19 #education

Dollar General to compensate workers for getting vaccinated against COVID

January 13, 2021 – Families

The Washington Post reports on Dollar General’s announcement that it will compensate employees who receive the COVID-19 vaccine, in recognition that hourly-paid workers may otherwise be forced to choose between a paycheck and taking time off to get vaccinated. The retailer notes that employees who report having received the vaccine will be compensated with four hours of regular pay to address any lost working time or additional transportation costs that vaccination may have triggered. The statement notes that vaccination is encouraged but not mandatory for employees. This announcement makes the retailer one of the nation’s first to offer this type of compensation. #covid-19 #workforce

Tribal nations focus on protecting elders to preserve culture after immeasurable losses to COVID-19

January 12, 2021 – Seniors

With COVID-19 killing Native people at nearly twice the rate of white people, the loss of tribal elders has spurred a cultural crisis for many tribes. With many tribal cultures reliant on oral tradition and few remaining speakers of native languages, tribal nations are worried about the cultural annihilation that comes with losing elders to COVID-19. To mitigate this threat, tribal leaders and nonprofits are working to reach and protect those most in need. Strategies have included delivering groceries and hygiene supplies to elders, training young people to monitor their grandparents’ vital signs with tribe-distributed thermometers and oxygen meters, and prioritizing tribal elders at the front of vaccination queues. However, vaccination efforts among this group are complicated by the fact that many tribal elders live in very rural communities without transportation. Importantly, these elders also experience deep mistrust of the government and medical institutions, seeded by long histories of forced assimilation, medical experimentation, and other brutal acts of racism. #covid-19 #racialequity #seniors #rural

Texas leaders react to early documentation of racial inequity in vaccination sites

January 9, 2021 – Families

Pairing data from the state health department and demographic surveys, the Texas Tribune has documented the clustering of vaccination sites in affluent and white neighborhoods, where selected sites of hospitals, nursing homes, and pharmacies are often located. These spatial mismatches are particularly problematic since many of the underserved communities of color include residents without reliable access to transportation, and multigenerational families at high risk for infection. The article notes that a few days before publication, local legislators had contacted the governor urging him to consider better targeting vaccinations to minority neighborhoods, and includes an update that days after publication, Governor Greg Abbott authorized 28 additional vaccination hubs for local dissemination, some of which fall into majority Hispanic neighborhoods. #covid-19 #racialequity

Early analysis shows white populations overrepresented in vaccine receipt

January 8, 2021 – Families

Business Insider documents a new analysis of vaccination data for six states (largely in the Southeast) that both have high shares of Black residents and collect detailed vaccination and race data. The piece shows that in each state studied, Black vaccination rates were lower than among white people, with the imbalance particularly striking in North Carolina, where 21 percent of the population is Black, but only 10 percent of vaccine recipients are. The analysis acknowledges that differences in occupational structure and age may play a role in the early rollout, as does incomplete data, but emphasized the importance of reaching populations – particularly in the health care industry—who may be experiencing language barriers or fear as hurdles to vaccination. #covid-19 #racialequity

For struggling families, December’s COVID relief package came just in time

January 8, 2021 – Families

New analysis of the Census Household Pulse Survey from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities documents steep increases in family hardship since the end of summer. By mid-December, 14 percent of adults reported that their household didn’t have enough to eat in the last 7 days, representing two million more adults in this situation in December than in late November. In addition, 38 percent of adults said it was difficult to pay households expenses in the past seven days, representing 13 million more adults than in August. The author suggests that elevated levels of hardship may relate to the dwindling effects of earlier-passed relief efforts, and consistently inadequate supports for nutrition and housing assistance. #covid-19 #foodsecurity

Asset poverty is widespread but disproportionately affects families of color

January 6, 2021 – Families

A recently released study in the Journal of Marriage and Family documents racial-ethnic differences in “net-worth poverty” among households with children. Using consumer finance data from 1989 to 2019, the authors define net worth poverty as total household net worth, accounting for both assets and debt below 25 percent of the federal poverty line. This amounts to less than $6,500 in assets for a family of four in 2019. The authors note that asset poverty is much more prevalent than income poverty, affecting half of Hispanic families with children, 58 percent of Black families, and 23.5 percent of white families. While income poverty is important for meeting daily needs, the authors argue that asset poverty seriously limits families’ financial cushion for emergencies— like a pandemic—and their ability to invest in their children’s futures. #covid-19 #racialequity

Public school enrollment drops, especially among youngest students

January 5, 2021 – General

An American University policy researcher published a piece on The Conversation citing early evidence from a National Public Radio survey of 60 school districts across 20 states. That survey found that school enrollment dropped in fall 2020, with declines in public kindergarten enrollment averaging 16 percent. The author notes that health concerns, limited in-person options, wariness of virtual kindergarten, and family constraints around work and child care have likely all contributed. While delayed or forgone kindergarten isn’t necessarily harmful—particularly if families are able to substitute this time with high-quality at-home learning—for children with more at-home stressors and material hardship, missed school can widen existing inequalities in early education. In addition, decreased enrollment has implications for schools, including reductions in public funds allocated on a per-child basis and a larger 2021-2022 kindergarten cohort who may require intensive supports. #covid-19 #education

School meal delivery offers teachers difficult glimpse into students’ living arrangements

January 3, 2021 – Older Youth

An article from USA Today documents a sobering side effect to school systems’ conversion to school meal drop off models in the pandemic: often for the first time, school staff and educators saw firsthand their students’ living conditions. While teachers delivering meals in rural Illinois were shocked and troubled to find students living without indoor plumbing, electricity, and windows, they also found that seeing students’ home lives prepared them to better support those learners. In addition, parents noted that seeing school staff during meal drop-off provided a sense of “normalcy” amid the upheaval of the pandemic. #covid-19 #education #foodsecurity