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Countering Violent Extremism: Department of Homeland Security Needs to Improve Grants Management and Data Collection

Civil Contempt of Court for Child Support Noncompliance at the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) Demonstration Sites


Education Task Forces and Commissions

Stress Topped the Reasons Why Public School Teachers Quit, Even Before COVID-19


University of Florida / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Public Opinion Findings from June 2019 Data

Low-Income Workers: Millions of Full-Time Workers in the Private Sector Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs

Alternative Solutions for Child Support


Measures and Methodology for International Comparisons of Health Care System Performance

Expanding Premium Tax Credits to Middle-Income Families Would Reduce the Number of People Uninsured and Increase Marketplace Enrollment

How Poor Communication Exacerbates Health Inequities – And What to Do About It

March 5, 2021


From 2010 through 2019, data collected through the Extremist Crime Database show that 205 deaths resulted from 59 violent extremist attacks in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) received funding in 2016 to establish a new Countering Violence Extremism (CVE) Grant Program to support efforts by state and local governments and nongovernmental organizations to reduce risk factors associated with violent extremism. This report examines, among other things, the extent to which DHS (1) announced, reviewed, and awarded CVE grants in accordance with Office of Management and Budget guidance and (2) evaluated the performance of CVE grantees and the overall program. The authors reviewed documentation of DHS’s actions in announcing, reviewing and awarding CVE grants; and documentation on steps taken to assess the performance of grantees and the overall program; as compared to requirements in key documents, including the CVE grant announcement, elements of internal control, and a DHS 2017 report to Congress. The authors found that after DHS announced intended grantees for 2017-2019, it revised its selection criteria and did not document reasons for its selections, making it harder to ensure grantees are selected equitably. The DHS also didn't obtain data on grantee performance, which it needs to assess program effectiveness. The authors recommend that DHS document its award rationales and ensure that grantees submit data for performance reviews.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

Child support programs seek to improve children’s well-being by emphasizing both parents’ roles in providing for them. Some families receive child support from non-custodial parents regularly. For other families, however, payments may be sporadic, partial, or not received at all. Nationally, among all custodial parents owed child support payments in 2017, 24% received only part of the amount they were owed during that year, and 30% received no payments at all. Parents who do not make their child support payments can be subject to enforcement measures such as income withholding, interception of tax refunds, or seizure of bank accounts. If these measures are unsuccessful, child support programs can refer non-paying parents to the legal system for civil contempt of court. Civil contempt proceedings require non-custodial parents to attend court hearings and may lead to arrest or jailing if they fail to appear in court or fail to meet the obligations of their child support orders. The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration project is a test of a different approach. It integrates principles of procedural justice into enforcement practices in six child support agencies across the United States as an alternative to standard contempt proceedings. Procedural justice is fairness in processes that resolve disputes and result in decisions. Research has shown that if people perceive a process to be fair, they will be more likely to comply with the outcome of that process, whether or not the outcome was favorable to them. This report explains which non-custodial parents are referred to civil contempt by the six participating child support agencies, based on both federal child support guidelines and other eligibility criteria commonly applied by those agencies. It provides a general description of the standard contempt proceedings for control group members. The report also describes procedural justice-informed contempt adaptations implemented for program group members who are unwilling to participate in PJAC services and who, as a result, become eligible for contempt.

Source: MDRC


In 2020, states in the U.S. introduced more than 400 bills and enacted more than 40 legislative actions to create or reestablish education task forces. While the charge, composition and actions of these task forces vary, governors and other state leaders rely on them to inform the policymaking process and advance state education and workforce goals. This report identifies three types of task forces established in the last year: early learning and K-12 education; student populations and programs; and postsecondary education and workforce development. Colorado created an interagency working group to enhance school safety through cost-effective, evidence-based practices. The working group is required to study and implement recommendations from a 2019 state auditor’s report on school safety; identify shared metrics to examine program effectiveness; facilitate and address data sharing across the state; facilitate interagency coordination and communication related to school safety; and fulfill other responsibilities. Pennsylvania created an advisory committee to study the return on investment in after-school programs and offer strategies for capturing and bolstering their outcomes. The committee will examine strategies to reduce violence and crime; adolescent pregnancies; tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse; disengagement from school; school suspension and truancy; and health-compromising behaviors. Also, the committee members must consider ways to ensure that children of working families have access to safe after-school environments. West Virginia created the State Advisory Council on Postsecondary Attainment Goals. The council’s purpose is to ensure that K-12 students are provided the knowledge and skills to earn relevant industry-demanded postsecondary credentials and support education and industry partnerships in developing high-value, in-demand credentials. The council is also charged with developing a plan to achieve the state’s goal that by 2030 60% of residents ages 25-64 will hold a degree, certificate or other postsecondary workforce credential of value.

Source: Education Commission of the States

The COVID-19 pandemic has added more stress to an already high-stress profession: American public school teacher. The authors of this report share the results of a new survey of nearly 1,000 former public school teachers and reveal how important stress has been—even more so than pay—to teachers' decisions to leave the profession. In this report, the authors attempt to understand what is and is not normal about teacher attrition during this highly abnormal pandemic era. They build a profile of teacher leavers, both before and during the pandemic, and examine how the pandemic has influenced teachers' exits. They contextualize the pandemic-related findings by examining pre-pandemic stressors in the teaching profession and conclude by examining what former public school teachers reported doing after leaving their public school positions. The authors then discuss the implications of these findings for public school teaching and offer recommendations for educators, researchers, and policymakers. Key findings include that almost half of the public school teachers who voluntarily stopped teaching in public schools after March 2020 and before their scheduled retirement left because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also that many early leavers could be lured back to public school teaching. Over half of the teachers who voluntarily left the profession early primarily because of the pandemic indicated that they would be somewhat or definitely willing to return to public school teaching once most staff and students are vaccinated. Slightly fewer of those would return if there was only regular testing of staff and students for COVID-19. Stress was the most common reason for leaving public school teaching early—almost twice as common as insufficient pay. This is corroborated by the fact that a majority of early leavers went on to take jobs with either less or around equal pay, and three in ten went on to work at a job with no health insurance or retirement benefits.

Source: RAND Corporation

Government Operations

The UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center) conducts several public opinion surveys each year that focus on issues of key significance to Floridians. Soon, researchers will measure public opinion on a national scale. The surveys explore what people think about the rights, responsibilities, attitudes and behaviors associated with critical issues such as food production, water quantity and quality, community resilience and preparedness, endangered and invasive species, and more. These issue guides compile the most important findings from each study to show the research results in an easy-to-understand manner. The most recent edition examines public opinion on mosquito control, sources of agricultural-related information, livestock, science communication, community preparedness, water quality, agricultural water use, protection of endanger species, genetically modified food, and food safety.

Source: University of Florida / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

In October 2020, the authors issued a report entitled Federal Social Safety Net Programs Millions of Full-Time Workers Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs. Federal Social Safety Net Programs Millions of Full-Time Workers Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs. This testimony summarizes the findings of that report, which examined (1) what is known about the labor characteristics of wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, and (2) what is known about where wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients work. The 12 million wage-earning adults (ages 19 to 64) enrolled in Medicaid—a joint federal-state program that finances health care for low-income individuals—and the 9 million wage-earning adults in households receiving food assistance from SNAP shared a range of common labor characteristics. For example, approximately 70% of adult wage earners in both programs worked full-time hours (i.e., 35 hours or more) on a weekly basis and about one-half of them worked full-time hours annually. In addition, 90% of wage-earning adults participating in each program worked in the private sector (compared to 81% of nonparticipants) and 72% worked in one of five industries, according to authors’ analysis of program participation data included in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 Current Population Survey. When compared to adult wage earners not participating in the programs, wage-earning adult Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients in the private sector were more likely to work in the leisure and hospitality industry and in food service and food preparation occupations.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

Over the last decade, many states and tribal nations’ child support enforcement practices have evolved to maximize positive impacts on families. Gradually, a shift toward serving the whole family, not just those members receiving child support, is lessening the child support system’s reliance on more punitive enforcement measures. This evolution assumes a greater importance during the economic decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) undertook significant work to reflect this perspective shift. In June 2011, OCSE presented evidence-based research that family-centered approaches improve the likelihood that families will receive consistent child support payments. Further guidance provided in 2018 encourages states to consider the use of federal incentive funds to integrate employment programs for non-custodial parents receiving child support services. In Washington State, this shift resulted in significant changes in policies and practices at the Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Child Support. In 2014, the agency created an internal program called Alternative Solutions, pioneering a new approach. Designed for work across the entire state, Alternative Solutions sustains its engagement with non-resident parents during the pandemic and ensuing shutdown. The program continues to grow and increase its influence on the culture of the agency by training other child support officers as liaisons in field offices who then share community resources with local staff members. The initial, pre-pandemic training as program specialists, strong engagement practices with parents, and focus on team building allows Alternative Solutions staff members to work together cohesively toward their collective goals despite some unique challenges.

Source: MDRC

Health and Human Services

The Immediate Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking to identify measures that could improve the ability of the United States and other countries to learn from international comparisons of health system performance. To inform the identification of measures for international comparison, researchers worked with a diverse group of 15 experts in quality measurement, clinical care, and health economics to generate and prioritize potential measure constructs that align with HHS priorities and are particularly promising for international comparisons. Eight measure constructs were identified as having the most promise for international comparison, but they will require additional development work to establish their operational definitions and specifications to ensure that any measure developed is valid and feasible for international comparisons of health system performance. This report is designed to lay a strong foundation for these future refinements by noting the degree of consensus among experts about the importance, scientific acceptability, perceived feasibility, and usability of measure constructs; summarizing the strengths and limitations of the measure constructs; and providing additional context that can be useful for informing the selection of measure constructs that might ultimately be developed into measures and proposed to OECD for consideration. Of the 25 measure constructs included in the expert rating process, eight were rated as having the most promise for international comparisons: treatment and control of hypertension; access to and coverage for telehealth; quality-adjusted life expectancy; insurance coverage for mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse services; receipt of preference-concordant end-of-life care; care continuity or consistent provider; access to mental health providers; and data transfer and interoperability.

Source: RAND Corporation

In this report, the authors analyze a policy that would expand the Health Insurance Marketplace premium tax credits by raising the eligibility cutoff from 400 to 600% of the federal poverty level. The policy would lessen the financial burden of high premiums for such families and increase Marketplace enrollment for this group. A potential drawback, however, is that some employers may stop offering employer-sponsored insurance to their workers. However, the authors find such concerns unwarranted. Research shows most employers responded the Affordable Care Act by increasing the rate at which they offer insurance to their employees. Incorporating that evidence, the analysis finds extending the eligibility cutoff for Marketplace premium tax credits to 600% of the federal poverty level would decrease the number of people uninsured by more than 116,000, and 48,000 people with non-Affordable Care Act compliant coverage would enroll in Marketplace plans. Together, these effects would move 164,000 people into plans providing minimum essential coverage.

Source: Urban Institute

Poor communication is a failing of the health system, not of patients. A good health care system engages fairly and respectfully with everyone who seeks care, and it recognizes that its patients and plan enrollees come with a range of previous experiences with the health care system, as well as different literacy levels, language fluency, and cultural norms. It is the responsibility of system managers, and front-line providers, to ensure that everything from examination room interactions to provider training is guided by good communication techniques. But while health managers will usually say they recognize the importance of good communication, there remain profound barriers to introducing and implementing the techniques needed to achieve better outcomes and equity. Recommendations included in this report include 1) enhanced medical training for improving communication between health care providers and patients; 2) reaching out to people and local institutions to enlist their assistance in overcoming communication obstacles; and 3) using respected and trained intermediaries to build the relationships needed to assure trust, good communication, and potential connections to other social services.

Source: Brookings Institution

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