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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Schulman, Karen ; Matthews, Hannah ; Blank, Helen ; Ewen, Danielle
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) — a strategy to improve families’ access to high-quality child care — assess the quality of child care programs, offer incentives and assistance to programs to improve their ratings, and give information to parents about the quality of child care. These systems are operating in a growing number of states — 22 states had statewide QRIS and four additional states had QRIS in one or more of their communities as of 2010.

    The development and implementation of QRIS is also a central component of the Race to the Top-Early Learn­ing Challenge — a federally funded competitive grant program that encourages states to strengthen their early learning systems — which will likely spur addi­tional states to establish new or expand existing QRIS. Under QRIS, child care programs receive progressively higher ratings as they meet progressively higher quality standards. States vary significantly in their approaches to QRIS, including in the number of quality levels they have, the standards they set for achieving higher quality ratings, and the...

    Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) — a strategy to improve families’ access to high-quality child care — assess the quality of child care programs, offer incentives and assistance to programs to improve their ratings, and give information to parents about the quality of child care. These systems are operating in a growing number of states — 22 states had statewide QRIS and four additional states had QRIS in one or more of their communities as of 2010.

    The development and implementation of QRIS is also a central component of the Race to the Top-Early Learn­ing Challenge — a federally funded competitive grant program that encourages states to strengthen their early learning systems — which will likely spur addi­tional states to establish new or expand existing QRIS. Under QRIS, child care programs receive progressively higher ratings as they meet progressively higher quality standards. States vary significantly in their approaches to QRIS, including in the number of quality levels they have, the standards they set for achieving higher quality ratings, and the extent to which they provide financial and other supports to help programs improve. In most states, child care programs participate on a voluntary basis, although a few states require all regulated programs to participate. Despite these variations in their QRIS, states share a common objective of encouraging better child care options so that more families have access to high-quality child care that will support their children’s learning and development.

    Given that QRIS are used in a growing number of states and communities, it is helpful to examine the range of approaches these states and communities are taking in designing and implementing QRIS. It is also important to examine the opportunities and barriers for QRIS in achieving the goals of improving the quality of child care and increasing access to high-quality child care for families, particularly for the most vulnerable families. QRIS can be a tool for improving the quality of care accessed by low-income families who cannot afford high-quality care on their own. To gain more insight into different strategies for shaping and implementing QRIS, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) interviewed 48 child care center directors from nine states about their experiences with QRIS. The directors offered valuable perspectives on what is working in their QRIS and how the systems could be improved. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: United States Government Accountability Office
    Year: 2011

    Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, TANF child-only cases increased slightly but represented a greater share of the overall TANF caseload because cases with adults in the assistance unit experienced a significant decline. The national composition of the TANF child-only caseload has remained relatively unchanged since 2000. At the end of 2010, the majority of children receiving TANF lived with parents who were ineligible for cash assistance, and one-third lived with nonparent caregivers who were relatives or unrelated adults. However, this composition varies by state. For example, in Tennessee, almost 60 percent of the TANF child-only caseload included children living with nonparent caregivers, compared with about 30 percent in Texas.

    Most nonparent caregivers in TANF child-only cases are unmarried women who are over 50 years old, and research suggests that they often have low incomes and health problems. The children tend to be related to their caregiver, who is often a grandparent, and they remain on assistance for at least 2 years. Some of these children live with...

    Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, TANF child-only cases increased slightly but represented a greater share of the overall TANF caseload because cases with adults in the assistance unit experienced a significant decline. The national composition of the TANF child-only caseload has remained relatively unchanged since 2000. At the end of 2010, the majority of children receiving TANF lived with parents who were ineligible for cash assistance, and one-third lived with nonparent caregivers who were relatives or unrelated adults. However, this composition varies by state. For example, in Tennessee, almost 60 percent of the TANF child-only caseload included children living with nonparent caregivers, compared with about 30 percent in Texas.

    Most nonparent caregivers in TANF child-only cases are unmarried women who are over 50 years old, and research suggests that they often have low incomes and health problems. The children tend to be related to their caregiver, who is often a grandparent, and they remain on assistance for at least 2 years. Some of these children live with nonparent caregivers as a result of parental abuse or neglect, substance abuse, incarceration, or mental illness, but these circumstances may or may not be known by the child welfare agency.

    The level of benefits and services available to children living with nonparents depends on the extent to which a child welfare agency becomes involved in the family's situation and the licensing status of the caregiver. Children in foster care with licensed foster parents are generally eligible for greater benefits and services than children in other living arrangements, who may receive TANF child-only assistance. For one child, the national average minimum monthly foster care payment is $511 while the average TANF child-only payment is $249. Most children live with relatives who do not receive foster care payments because they are not licensed foster parents or they are in informal arrangements without child welfare involvement. Other factors influencing the assistance made available to children in a relative's care include available federal funding, state budget constraints, and increased state efforts to identify relative caregivers to prevent children from being placed in the foster care system.

    Several state and local efforts are under way to coordinate TANF and child welfare services to better serve children living with relative caregivers, but information sharing is a challenge. Coordination efforts include colocating TANF and child welfare services and having staff from each agency work together to help relative caregivers access services. ACF currently provides grants to states and tribes to support collaboration between TANF and child welfare programs and plans to disseminate the findings. However, information and data sharing between the two programs does not occur consistently, which can hinder relatives' access to available benefits. For example, although HHS provides funding, guidance, and technical assistance to promote data sharing between TANF and child welfare programs, more than half of states reported obstacles to sharing data, such as privacy concerns. GAO recommends the Secretary of HHS direct ACF to provide more guidance on data sharing opportunities. HHS agreed with GAO's recommendation.

    (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Whitley, Sarah
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2013

    Poverty and hunger are increasingly significant issues facing the United States. An additional trend, the consolidation in food retail, also contributes to food insecurity. This qualitative study of rural food insecure households investigates how assistance services and retail consolidation affect hunger for households in a changing rural environment. The data shows disparities exist in the amount of food assistance available based on household levels of social integration and social capital, leaving less connected residents experiencing hunger. (author abstract)

    Poverty and hunger are increasingly significant issues facing the United States. An additional trend, the consolidation in food retail, also contributes to food insecurity. This qualitative study of rural food insecure households investigates how assistance services and retail consolidation affect hunger for households in a changing rural environment. The data shows disparities exist in the amount of food assistance available based on household levels of social integration and social capital, leaving less connected residents experiencing hunger. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Mohr, Jennifer; Zygmunt, Eva; Clark, Patricia
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2012

    A case study approach was employed to investigate low-income families’ aspirations for their children and their understandings of their children’s developmental needs. Participants were four women whose children or grandchildren were enrolled in an urban early childhood program and were considered “at risk.” Qualitative methods including interviews, observations, and analysis of artifacts were used. Results indicated that the participants’ aspirations for their children included going to college, as has been shown in other studies to be characteristic of middle-class families. Results also suggested that the participants were insightful about child development, young children’s learning, and the needs of young children. Analysis indicated that participants understood the importance of a shared role between families and teachers in their children’s development, and they wanted to work with their children’s teachers in that manner. The participants expected early childhood programs to not only prepare young children for school but to prepare them to negotiate successfully social...

    A case study approach was employed to investigate low-income families’ aspirations for their children and their understandings of their children’s developmental needs. Participants were four women whose children or grandchildren were enrolled in an urban early childhood program and were considered “at risk.” Qualitative methods including interviews, observations, and analysis of artifacts were used. Results indicated that the participants’ aspirations for their children included going to college, as has been shown in other studies to be characteristic of middle-class families. Results also suggested that the participants were insightful about child development, young children’s learning, and the needs of young children. Analysis indicated that participants understood the importance of a shared role between families and teachers in their children’s development, and they wanted to work with their children’s teachers in that manner. The participants expected early childhood programs to not only prepare young children for school but to prepare them to negotiate successfully social interactions with both children and adults. Implications for teachers, administrators, and teacher education programs are discussed. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Mead, Lawrence M.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2012

    How might work levels among low-income men be raised, as they were for welfare mothers in the 1990s? This study expands the relevant literature on both social policy and implementation. Low-skilled men owing child support and ex-offenders returning from prison are already supposed to work but often fail to do so. The reasons include both the recent fall in unskilled wages and the confusion of men’s lives. Existing work programs in child support and criminal justice appear promising, although evaluations are limited. A survey covering most states shows that half or more already have some men’s work programs, usually on a small scale. Field research in six states suggests the political and administrative factors that shape wider implementation of these programs. Work programs should preferably be mandatory, stress work over training, and be combined with improved wage subsidies. The federal government should provide more funding and evaluations. (author abstract)

    How might work levels among low-income men be raised, as they were for welfare mothers in the 1990s? This study expands the relevant literature on both social policy and implementation. Low-skilled men owing child support and ex-offenders returning from prison are already supposed to work but often fail to do so. The reasons include both the recent fall in unskilled wages and the confusion of men’s lives. Existing work programs in child support and criminal justice appear promising, although evaluations are limited. A survey covering most states shows that half or more already have some men’s work programs, usually on a small scale. Field research in six states suggests the political and administrative factors that shape wider implementation of these programs. Work programs should preferably be mandatory, stress work over training, and be combined with improved wage subsidies. The federal government should provide more funding and evaluations. (author abstract)

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