Drivers of Inequities in Access to Income Supports: Context, Decision-Making Process, and Outcomes among Justice-Involved Parents of Young Children

Project: Research project

Project Details


More than 33 million children in America have a parent with a criminal record. Most of them are poor. Most are African-American or Hispanic. Parents with a criminal record face barriers in obtaining employment, housing, and education. Some are disqualified from income support programs. Yet, we ignore justice involvement as a driver of health inequities. We propose to examine this question by leveraging our ongoing Raising Our Children study with formerly incarcerated parents of young children. We will build on its existing data on: use of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); employment; childcare; key contextual variables; and child and parental outcomes. We will collect additional data to understand the process by which justice-involved parents make decisions to participate or not in the EITC and TANF. Our specific aims are: 1. Examine how parents make decisions about participating in the EITC and TANF. 2. Identify the characteristics of families receiving EITC, TANF, or in-kind supports only. 3. Test associations between TANF/EITC participation and family functional outcomes. Participants will be 100 families recruited from Raising Our Children, a study of families of young children (ages 3-7) in which one parent was incarcerated as a juvenile. We will use a mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) study with an exploratory sequential design consisting of two phases. In Phase 1 (Qualitative), we will gather narratives from 30 parents about how they decided to participate or not in the EITC/TANF. We will use the findings to refine our conceptual model of parents’ decision-making and develop a questionnaire to test the model. In Phase 2 (Quantitative), we will administer the questionnaire to all 100 participants to refine our model from Phase 1, and use existing ROC study data to identify the characteristics of groups of EITC/TANF participants/non-participants, and examine associated families’ outcome. This project will provide actionable evidence to reduce inequities for justice-involved parents and their children.
Effective start/end date11/15/197/31/22


  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Agmt 12/11/19)


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