"Reducing Poverty-related Disparities: Science and Policy à la Bronfenbrenner"
Now, more than ever, it is critical to address the topic of children and poverty in the U.S., given what science tells us regarding poverty’s influence on children and what we know regarding effective strategies to mitigate its negative impact. This presentation will review current trends and policy responses to child poverty as well as applied science findings regarding the efficacy of comprehensive strategies to reduce poverty and promote the human capital development of low-income children. At the intersection of both these strategies is an innovative approach to addressing poverty-related disparities that targets both poverty reduction and human capital investments simultaneously and synergistically: Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs). CCTs aim to reduce poverty by providing cash support to families, but condition that support on investments children’s human capital, with the long-term goal of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Results will be presented on the first experimental test of a comprehensive CCT program in the U.S, known as Opportunity NYC: Family Rewards. The presentation will conclude with reflections on a way forward for science and policy.
Pamela Morris is a Professor of Applied Psychology in NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She is also a Senior Fellow at MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social policy research organization, collaborating with researchers at MDRC on a number of intervention research studies. Dr. Morris' research lies at the intersection of social policy and developmental psychology, focusing on several areas of inquiry. First, she has led a wealth of research on the effects of welfare and employment policies, and their subsequent effects on parents' employment and income, on children. This research has had an extraordinary impact on policy discussions at both state and federal levels, while contributing to developmental science as the first experimental evidence of the effects of increases in parents' income on children's development. To extend this line of research, she is currently conducting a study to understand how youth and their families are affected by Conditional Cash Transfers as part of the MDRC's Opportunity NYC Study, an initiative of Mayor Bloomberg's Center for Economic Opportunity. She is also conducting a study to understand how low-income children are affected by parents' depression and poverty, understanding the effects of deprivation on children's psychosocial as well as physiological outcomes with an explicit focus on heterogeneity of effects by children's genetic risk. Finally, she is the Project Director and co-Principal Investigator of the Department of Health and Human Services Head Start CARES project. CARES is one of three large-scale cluster randomized trials Morris is conducting in collaboration with researchers at MDRC assessing the effects of preschool intervention strategies aimed at improving children's developmental outcomes. She received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University.
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