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.


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

Research finds Medicaid expansion in Oregon has increased prenatal care

January 4, 2021 – Families

Recent research published in Preventive Medicine investigated prenatal care utilization among low-income women after Oregon’s 2014 Medicaid expansion. Authors estimate the expansion extended coverage to 77,000 low-income women who would have otherwise only been eligible for Medicaid coverage once they became pregnant. Authors found that enrollment in Medicaid while not pregnant was associated with better receipt of adequate prenatal care when women eventually became pregnant. Importantly, while non-Hispanic white women saw about a 2 percentage point increase in prenatal care utilization, the increase was almost double that for Hispanic women.

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

Strategies for optimizing COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in rural places

December 28, 2020 – Families

Rural health care experts describe the challenges of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to rural residents and some strategies to optimize the process. Key challenges include the temperature requirements for storing and shipping vaccines, which many rural hospitals are unable meet. Vaccines are also often sent in large batches—975 doses in the case of the Pfizer vaccine—which are difficult for small institutions to manage and distribute quickly. The Moderna vaccine offers a more suitable minimum order of 100 doses. Authors suggest several ways to support rural hospitals, including providing smaller batch options, making sure rural counties have specific communication plans to provide information to residents, involving rural nonprofit health organizations in information dissemination, and allowing community pharmacies to also offer the vaccine (particularly important given rural hospital closures). #covid-19 #rural

Despite legislation, racial disparities in adoption remain

December 23, 2020 – General

Mathematica researchers detail current racial disparities in adoption, 25 years after the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 that aimed to improve foster and adoptive systems. They report that some progress has been made: the overall number of adoptions has increased by 22 percent, and the proportion of all adoptions that are transracial—where the adoptive parent(s) are not the same race as the child—increased from 21 to 28 percent. However, children of color are still spending longer periods of time in foster care awaiting adoption than white children. As of the most recent data from 2017-2019, Black children spent the longest average time in foster care at 33 months, as compared to 28 months for Hispanic/Latinx children and 27 months for white children. #racialequity

Understanding residential mobility in Massachusetts to better target place-based policies

December 20, 2020 – Families

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston published a new issue brief on residential mobility and neighborhood poverty, particularly in “gateway cities,” in Massachusetts from 2000-2016. “Gateway cities” are former manufacturing centers that historically served as gateways to the “American dream” and are characterized by large low-income and immigrant populations, affordable housing stocks, and established infrastructure. These cities—including Lowell, Haverhill, Worcester, and Pittsfield, MA— have faced challenges with population and job loss and their anticipated revival has been quashed by the pandemic. This research shows that even before the pandemic, residents in gateway cities were less able to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods than were other Massachusetts residents. Residents in higher-poverty neighborhoods who are unable to access lower-poverty neighborhoods have lower access to critical economic, health, and educational resources. Authors propose that this pre-pandemic pattern emphasizes the importance of targeted policies and assistance in places where residents are less able to weather the pandemic. #housing #education

Rural weekly COVID-19 death rates continue to set records

December 14, 2020 – Families

The Daily Yonder continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in rural (nonmetropolitan) counties throughout the United States. The week of December 6–12 brought both a record-breaking number of new cases (220,554) and deaths (3,818) in rural counties. The weekly death rate in rural areas (8.3 per 100,000) continues to be much higher—almost double—that of urban areas (4.5 per 100,000). On a more positive note, the rate of growth in new COVID-19 cases was more modest than previous weeks, hopefully a sign that cases will start to level off. #covid-19 #rural

Three in five businesses paying average wages under $20k reduced employment in the pandemic

December 14, 2020 – Families

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collected new data through their Business Response Survey to the Coronavirus Pandemic, which covers how business have changed their operations and employment during the pandemic (from January – September 2020). In this period, 39 percent of businesses paying an average annual wage greater than $80,000 told at least some employees not to work. A much higher share—60 percent—of businesses with an average wage of less than $20,000 reported the same. Teleworking opportunities also varied considerably by businesses’ average wage. Of establishments with average wages over $80,000, 58 percent reported increased telework available to employees. By contrast, only 13 percent of businesses with average wages under $20,000 increased telework available to employees during the pandemic. #covid-19 #workforce

Students, particularly students of color, are falling behind in school

December 6, 2020 – Young Children, Older Youth

In early December, a surge of new data and research on student performance became available and the findings are consistently bleak. A national study from McKinsey & Co. estimated that pandemic-related disruptions and remote work in spring 2020 set students of color back three to five months and white students back one to three months in school material. More currently, many school districts have released data showing a sharp increase in failure rates this fall. The spike in failure rates tends to be much higher for students of color and also among English language learners and students in special education programs. All this evidence suggests that learning losses that began in the spring are continuing this fall and disproportionately impacting disadvantaged students. #covid-19 #education #racialequity

Federal student-aid policy change eases administrative burden for low-income and disadvantaged students

December 2, 2020 – Older Youth

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a new policy change that will make the process of applying for federal student aid less cumbersome. The U.S. Education Department is reducing the percentage of student aid applications that are selected for “verification”—an additional and lengthy review step requiring more paperwork and typically required of 30 percent of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applicants. Verification is time-consuming and often confusing, especially when students do not have external support. While the intent is to reduce fraud and correct errors, research has found that the administrative burden of verification may outweigh the benefits. Informed by this research and their own data analysis, the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid decided to reduce the percentage of FAFSA filers required to complete verification from 30 percent down to 18 percent. While low-income students will still be disproportionately burdened by verification, the change means that fewer disadvantaged students will have to navigate this red tape. #education