CAP’s “Valuing All Our Families” report outlines both new and tested economic and social policy recommendations to bolster family structure, stability, and strength
Washington, D.C. — While research overwhelmingly shows that a strong family unit means improved stability for children and adults, the public debate around family units has largely tended to pit the advantages of families headed by married couples against the disadvantages of single-parent homes. In order to move this debate past such simple binary terms, the Center for American Progress today released a report that introduces a new framework for discussing family policy, broadening the debate beyond just family structure to include family stability and strength—a new framework that CAP refers to as the three S’s. CAP’s report offers both new and tested social and economic policy solutions to combat the instability that can affect low-income and middle-class American families. Considering these three factors together yields a richer and more balanced understanding of how family factors influence well-being and economic security than would focusing exclusively on any single one, CAP’s report explains.
“Today in America, there is no such thing as a typical family unit. But our policies, especially at the federal level, have failed to keep pace with our country’s changing households, and we know that children and adults alike can succeed and feel supported in a range of family arrangements,” said Shawn Fremstad, Senior Fellow at CAP and co-author of the report. “It’s time to move past just thinking about structure and include stability and strength as key factors that can affect the health and well-being of families.”
“The growth in economic inequality since the 1970s has profoundly shaped and constrained the family-related choices facing parents without four-year college degrees,” said Melissa Boteach, Vice President of the Poverty to Prosperity program at CAP and co-author of the report. “We all have a vested interest in ensuring the success of families of all types, and policymakers on both sides of the aisle should work together to address the economic and social issues that can exacerbate family instability.”
CAP’s analysis, “Valuing All Our Families: Progressive Policies that Strengthen Family Commitments and Reduce Family Disparities,” also highlights key economic and social recommendations to strengthen family commitments and reduce family disparities. The economic plank covers recommendations to address the economic factors that have made families—and particularly working-class families—more vulnerable to risks related to the three S’s, including:
- Increasing overall employment
- Increasing the minimum wage substantially, strengthening basic labor standards, and making it easier for workers to form and join labor unions
- Substantially increasing the earned income tax credit, or EITC, for adults without custodial children, and particularly young adults
- Ensuring that disadvantaged married and cohabiting couples have meaningful access to key work and income supports
- Reducing marriage penalties in the Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, program for people with disabilities
- Enacting work-family policies, including paid family leave, earned sick days, and high-quality child care, and increasing the availability of flexible and predictable work schedules
- Improving access to postsecondary education and training for both men and women
The social plank includes recommendations to provide social supports and services that reduce the risks that all families face related to the three S’s but that would also disproportionately help low-income and working-class families. Specifically, these recommendations include:
- Increasing access to birth control and other reproductive health services
- Increasing access to effective couples counseling
- Modernizing the child support system and family law
- Continuing successful home-visitation programs and increasing access to parenting education
- Reforming our nation’s criminal justice and immigration systems to avoid separating families unnecessarily
Click here read “Valuing All Our Families: Progressive Policies that Strengthen Family Commitments and Reduce Family Disparities” by Shawn Fremstad and Melissa Boteach. Click here to jump to the report’s executive summary.
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