Institute on Assets and Social Policy
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
Economic inequality is at historic highs, but its impact differs by race. African Americans' net wealth is just a tenth that of white Americans and in recent decades white families have accumulated wealth at three times the rate of black families. In our increasingly diverse nation, sociologist Thomas M. Shapiro argues, wealth disparities must be understood in tandem with racial inequities--a dangerous combination he terms "toxic inequality."
Toxic Inequality reveals how these forces trap families in place. Shapiro's longitudinal research vividly documents the Great Recession's toll on parents and children, the ways families use financial assets, and the real reasons some families build wealth while others struggle in poverty. The structure of our neighborhoods, workplaces, and tax code--much more than individual choices--push some forward and hold others back. Toxic inequality has been forged by history and preserved by policy, and only bold, race-conscious reforms can move us toward a more just society. Toxic Inequality is available for preorder from Amazon.
This report uses data on Secure Jobs participants who entered skills training to explain how Secure Jobs sites use short-term skills training programs for their participants. Key findings include: Secure Jobs participants who enroll in skills training programs are comparable to those who do not, and they show moderate employment gains, most notably in job retention. Secure Jobs participants choose training programs in subjects ranging from health care to manufacturing. About half have chosen training in healthcare-related fields. Participants who enter training in traditionally female-dominated fields, including healthcare, sales and service, are more likely to find employment than those in traditionally male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing.
Manchester, New Hampshire, is home to an increasingly diverse population, where disparities in access to care and health outcomes are prevalent. These health disparities are exacerbated by racial and socio-economic inequities in educational attainment, access to quality jobs, and neighborhood resources. Healthcare organizations around the U.S. -- in small communities as well as large urban centers -- will increasingly seek to implement strategies that improve quality and equity. Since 2013 and with funding from the Endowment for Health, the Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) has been working on a project to become a Center of Excellence in Culturally Effective Care. IASP partnered with the health center to provide technical assistance and study the implementation of a range of organizational change strategies that move MCHC along their path to becoming a culturally effective organization. This case study, Becoming a Culturally Effective Organization: A Case Study of the Manchester Community Health Center, sheds light on strategies appropriate for community health centers in communities becoming ever more diverse that are read to embark on an organizational change process to deliver high quality care to all.
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.