Institute on Assets and Social Policy
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
Jessica Santos, PhD, Senior Research Associate, presented "Inside Inequality: Power and Privilege Across the Life Course" to faculty, staff, and students at Dartmouth College on October 3rd. This talk was sponsored by Dartmouth's Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity and is part of a larger strategy the institution is pursuing to address a range of inequities on their campus. Santos' interactive talk highlights findings from her research on opportunity hoarding and other mechanisms that perpetuate racial inequality in health career pathways, and encourages participants to critically analyze the ways in which we study, think, and talk about inequality. In addition, participants apply life course theory, asset theory, and intersectionality to specific cases of inequality that they have experienced or observed, and together the group identifies systemic, policy-oriented solutions to further equity.
Sara Chaganti, IASP Research Associate, presented a poster at the 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency June 1. The conference was sponsored by the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and took place June 1-3 in Washington, D.C. Chaganti's poster, "Supporting Self-Sufficiency through Cross-Systems Collaboration: An Innovative Service Delivery Model for Homeless Families," came out of a multi-year evaluation of the Secure Jobs Initiative IASP is conducting in partnership with the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation. Secure Jobs is a new service model for homeless families that integrates employment and housing services to provide holistic support to families in crisis. Learn more about the Secure Jobs Initiative and read about IASP's research here.
The fourth research and policy brief in this series compares implementation, participation, and employment outcomes from the first two phases of Secure Jobs. While Phase One was limited to families in a short-term rental support program, Phase Two expanded to include families in shelters, motels, and other emergency housing programs. Findings point to a) the need for increased planning for recruitment when expanding eligibility; b) the importance of vocational training, which increases employment attainment significantly; and c) the importance of providing employment services in shelters and motels. Contrary to popular expectations, participants living in shelters and motels showed no difference in employment attainment or job quality from those living in rental subsidy programs.
The Healthcare Employer Research Initiative, a federally-funded research partnership with the NH Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs, and the study Beyond Supply and Demand, funded by the Endowment for Health, resulted in a comprehensive set of findings summarized in IASP’s new report, Good Jobs Good Health: Diversifying the Workforce through Policy and Practice. Findings point to a need for new collaborative program models and innovative policies for employment and economic inclusion. This report draws together the findings from issue briefs produced over the last 4 years and focuses on five key policy areas: building culturally effective organizations; diverse workforce training, retention, and advancement; network development; improving quality and performance; and patient and family engagement.
Good jobs and good health are mutually reinforcing policy areas. When employers and other key partners strive to develop a more diverse and inclusive workforce, it increases opportunity in the healthcare sector and is good for communities. Diversity also has positive impacts in the workplace. This research contributes to a mounting body of evidence demonstrating that workforce diversity and cultural competency improve quality care, patient satisfaction, and return on investment – all of which have major roles in driving the industry today. Policies and practices designed to create culturally effective organizations also produce positive impacts for those who obtain jobs in health care: equity and access to good jobs is a key determinant of good health. The healthcare sector is well positioned to lead the charge in developing a more diverse, productive, and sustainable workforce in tandem with more inclusive, adaptable, and culturally effective workplaces. The five key areas of policy and practice reviewed in this report comprise a new and broader way of approaching quality workforce and workplace development.
With rising numbers of young people accumulating student debt as they strive for a higher degree and a more secure economic future, the growing financial burden of student debt on young households is increasingly highlighted on the agendas of policymakers and the media. However, policy conversations to date have failed to address the racial disparities that exist in student borrowing and how student debt impacts the racial wealth gap among young households.
The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) and Demos released “Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt while Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap” to add a racial equity lens to the discussion. Using the Racial Wealth Audit™, a framework developed at IASP to assess the impacts of policies on the racial wealth gap, this report highlights how new policies can both lower overall student debt burdens and reduce racial wealth disparities among young households. Such reforms must be designed carefully, directing debt relief towards low and moderate income households. With momentum growing to address the burden of student loans, policymakers and advocates have the opportunity to develop solutions that could halt the growing tide of student debt while also reducing the substantial racial wealth gap among young households.
The Healthcare Employer Research Initiative found that efforts to support workforce diversity are more likely to be supported by all members of an organization if they are part of a broader package of strategies to achieve organizational cultural effectiveness and quality care. In recent years, hospitals across the United States have pursued patient and family engagement strategies to improve satisfaction and quality of care. One of the leading engagement strategies is to develop Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) – groups of current and former patients and family members who collaborate with a hospital’s staff to address pressing challenges confronting the organization. Diverse PFACs support a process of organizational improvement that positions healthcare organizations to deliver quality health care to current and future patient populations. Patient and Family Advisory Councils: Advancing Culturally Effective Patient-Centered Care provides guidance for healthcare organizations that seek to identify successful approaches to the development of diverse and effective PFACs.
Caregiving responsibilities and changes in household composition, such as divorce or separation, create financial challenges that disproportionately affect women. The seventh brief in the Leveraging Mobility series, “Tipping the Scale: How Assets Shape Economic Wellbeing for Women and Families,” examines how families leverage neighborhood, institutional, and personal resources to protect against these gendered, wealth-stripping forces. Framed by national trends that point to racial disparities in access to these resources, the brief uses comparative case studies to explore how unequal access shapes the set of strategies and trade-offs available to women and their families. A webinar cosponsored by IASP and PolicyLink was held on December 10.