The Brookings Institution today launched its new Center on Children and Families to conduct research and outreach that will improve understanding of the reasons for poverty, especially among working families, as well as the potential of various policies to improve the life chances of poor children. The center is directed by Isabel Sawhill, Brookings’ vice president and director of the Economic Studies Program, and Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at Brookings.
“Because of the rising importance of child and family policy issues at Brookings, the time seemed right to elevate the child and family portfolio to the status of a Brookings center,” said Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution. “The fourth year in a row of rising child poverty rates and the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina remind us that the working poor face continuing challenges. Belle and Ron are two of the great thinkers on these issues, and we are lucky to have the benefit of their expertise.”
“Too many American children and their families live in poverty,” Sawhill said. “With this center, we intend to address what types of policies might improve their lives and their children’s futures.”
The new Center replaces the Welfare Reform & Beyond initiative at Brookings, which began in 2001. Haskins, who was a key player in crafting the 1996 federal welfare legislation, said, “As we build on the progress of welfare reform, other issues that affect poor and low-income working families have become increasingly important—including early education, the Earned Income Tax Credit and other forms of income supplements, transportation, asset accumulation, and job advancement and social mobility.”
Over the next several years the new center will communicate its findings and recommendations to policymakers, scholars, and the public through publications and public events, focusing on four issues:
- Low-income working families and policies designed to improve their economic prospects.
- Policies that could increase the proportion of children growing up in married, two-parent families, including policies designed to reduce teen pregnancy.
- Social mobility in the United States and investments in children that could improve their opportunities to climb higher on the education and income ladder.
- Fiscal problems of federal and state governments, and steps that can be taken to ensure fiscal responsibility while supporting well-designed and cost-effective programs targeted to poor and low-income families.
The new Center, in partnership with Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, publishes the twice-yearly policy journal, The Future of Children. The fall 2005 issue, which was just released, examines marriage and child well-being, and forthcoming issues will address childhood obesity and social mobility.