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Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Consortium

The Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse, funded through a cooperative agreement with ICF, is part of OPRE’s ongoing research and dissemination agenda related to self-sufficiency. From 2013-2018, this agenda also included the multi-faceted Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Consortium. The mission of the Consortium was “to improve the lives of low-income families and children through better policies and practices by integrating research, policy, and practice on family self-sufficiency and stability; by engaging federal, state, and local actors in meaningful conversations and supporting them to be better producers and users of data; and by doing path-breaking, rigorous, and relevant research on contemporary questions related to family self-sufficiency and stability.” The Consortium included:

  • The 2013-2018 Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Scholars Network, which supported cooperative agreements with scholars to work independently and collectively on systematic, multidisciplinary examinations of the current gaps in family self-sufficiency and stability research.
  • The Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center, which supported the development, implementation, and ongoing operations of a data center to foster family self-sufficiency research and activities. 
  • The Advancing Welfare and Family Self-Sufficiency Research project, which provided timely and flexible research and evaluation support to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and its stakeholders and was led by Mathematica Policy Research.
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This page features research that the Scholars and the Data Center produced as part of their OPRE-funded projects throughout the duration of the Consortium.

  • Families on a Fault Line? The Risk of Poverty When a Child Joins the Home (2018), Marybeth J. Mattingly, Andrew Schaefer, and Douglas J. Gagnon -- The mathematics of poverty suggest that family composition changes may influence poverty rates and, in particular, that the addition of a new child increases estimated family expenses and correspondingly the family’s poverty threshold. This analysis of 2015 Current Population Survey data finds that those families more likely to live in poverty—Black and Hispanic families, families with children, less-educated families, and those living in more rural or highly urban environments—are at heightened risk of falling into poverty with an additional child.
  • Finding a Way: How Income Instability Affects Low Income Families (2018) -- This video explains how income instability affects families’ everyday lives. It highlights opportunities for policymakers and program administrators to promote greater income stability and mobility through income support programs. The video proposes that policymakers and program administrators consider changes to eligibility determination and recertification procedures to promote stable income and reduce the cost of program administration.
  • The Changing Composition of Minnesota’s Social Safety Net (2017), Weston Merrick, Robin Phinney, Colleen Heflin, and Yumiko Aratani -- Using data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Study, this research brief describes trends in the demographic and economic characteristics of social safety net recipients in Minnesota. The analysis shows that from 1990 to 2015, recipients of federal welfare, food assistance, and disability programs became increasingly diverse. Although educational attainment increased among program recipients, trends in employment were similar and many participants remained in deep poverty.
  • Creating a Data Model to Understand TANF Caseloads (2017)Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center -- This brief describes a model for using TANF data to understand caseload dynamics and address key policy questions. The TANF data model provides a simple guiding structure for agencies to extract and transform their data from common data elements into a format that facilitates easy data analysis. The data model is intended to make limited data and capacity as useful as possible, streamlining the process of connecting TANF data with policy questions.
  • The Great Recession and the Rise in Material Hardship (2017)Colleen Heflin -- New research examining material hardship and sources of economic and family instability provides insight into how the Great Recession impacted households and, going forward, what might help those finding it hard to make ends meet.
  • Changing Demography of Social Safety Net Programs (2017)Colleen Heflin and Yumiko Aratani -- This report highlights the changing socio-demographic composition of program participants for AFDC/TANF, SNAP and SSI between 1988 and 2015 and discusses the importance of addressing the needs of program participants from diverse backgrounds.