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Workforce strategies to strengthen families

Workforce strategies can improve access to childcare, boost family income, and increase the amount of time parents are able to spend with their children.

Children raised in stable, predictable household environments and whose parents earn adequate income see better outcomes at every life stage.

How does employment impact family well-being?

Steady, high-quality employment increases the likelihood of material well-being. 1

Lack of income stemming from unstable employment can make it more difficult for families to afford food, utilities, health care, and developmental opportunities.

Parents with steady employment are more likely to maintain stable households. 2

Parents who experience a substantial loss of income are more likely to move residences and experience divorce or separation, leading to further instability at home.

Steady, high-quality employment is associated with better health outcomes. 3

Unemployment is closely linked with poor health outcomes, particularly in the realm of mental health.

Parent job loss and unemployment affects children’s academic performance and development. 4

Children whose parents experience a job loss are at increased risk of grade retention, lower educational attainment, and more likely to be suspended or expelled from school.

Longer bouts of unemployment are more damaging to individuals and families. 5

Individuals and families facing long-term unemployment of six months or more are three times more likely to fall into poverty.

Children who never experience poverty see better outcomes. 6

Poverty negatively affects children’s social-emotional, cognitive, and academic outcomes, regardless of parental characteristics. Children’s cognitive development is most sensitive to the experience of poverty during early childhood.

Categories of successful interventions

  • Childcare subsidies: Programs that provide financial support to parents to cover the costs of childcare
  • Living wage laws: Policies that ensure that workers earn enough to support themselves and their families
  • Predictable scheduling policies: Policies that ensure workers have predictable work schedules

Evidence-based interventions

Intervention Type Category Evidence Level ARP Eligibility
Adult vocational training Strategy
  • Job placement services
  • Sector-based skills training
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Child care subsidies Policy
  • High-quality childcare
Proven (highest tier) Yes
Flexible scheduling policies Policy
  • Job quality
Proven (highest tier) No
Living wage laws Policy
  • Living wage laws
Strong (second-highest tier) No
Footnotes
  1. Sandstrom and Huerta, "The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis," Urban Institute 2013
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/32706/412899-The-Negative-Effects-of-Instability-on-Child-Development-A-Research-Synthesis.PDF
  2. Sandstrom and Huerta, "The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis," Urban Institute 2013
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/32706/412899-The-Negative-Effects-of-Instability-on-Child-Development-A-Research-Synthesis.PDF
  3. Antonisse and Garfield, "The Relationship Between Work and Health: Findings from a Literature Review," Kaiser Family Foundation 2018
    https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/the-relationship-between-work-and-health-findings-from-a-literature-review/
  4. Sandstrom and Huerta, "The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis," Urban Institute 2013
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/32706/412899-The-Negative-Effects-of-Instability-on-Child-Development-A-Research-Synthesis.PDF
  5. Sandstrom and Huerta, "The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis," Urban Institute 2013
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/32706/412899-The-Negative-Effects-of-Instability-on-Child-Development-A-Research-Synthesis.PDF
  6. Sandstrom and Huerta, "The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis," Urban Institute 2013
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/32706/412899-The-Negative-Effects-of-Instability-on-Child-Development-A-Research-Synthesis.PDF