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Moving Families Toward Economic Independence. Emily Feinberg, ScD, CPNP Sara Donahue, MPH, DrPH (c) Instructional Innovation Conference March 25, 2011. Overview. Innovation purpose Moving Families Toward Economic Independence exercise Application to other courses Questions.

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moving families toward economic independence

Moving Families Toward Economic Independence

Emily Feinberg, ScD, CPNP

Sara Donahue, MPH, DrPH(c)

Instructional Innovation Conference

March 25, 2011

  • Innovation purpose
  • Moving Families Toward Economic Independence exercise
  • Application to other courses
  • Questions
  • Course: Women, Children and Adolescents: Public Health Approaches
  • Class session: Poverty and Family Self-Sufficiency: Understanding Social Indicators
  • Need: Younger students may lack experience in examining social indicators or an understanding of poverty/low income status
poverty indicators
Poverty indicators
  • Poverty thresholds
    • Indicator of overall economic well-being
    • Determine eligibility for public programs
      • Family/individual level
      • Community/school district level
  • Federal Poverty Level (FPL) used as eligibility criteria for numerous programs serving the maternal and child health population
  • Economic Independence Index (EII): alternate measure describing income adequacy and economic self-sufficiency
innovation moving families toward economic independence exercise
Innovation: Moving Families Toward Economic Independence exercise
  • In-class computer simulation exercise
  • Objectives
    • Improve understanding of a major social indicator, the federal poverty measure, and its application
    • Recognize the relationship between poverty levels and a family’s ability to meet basic needs
    • Evaluate the impact of participation in public programs in families’ efforts to attain income independence
economic independence
Economic independence

How much income is needed for a family of a certain composition in a given place to adequately meet their basic needs-without public or private assistance

federal poverty level vs economic independence index
Federal Poverty Level vs. Economic Independence Index



Federal poverty line for a family of 4

Real costs for family of 4 living in Boston

family assignment and activity structure
Family Assignment and Activity structure
  • In-class computer exercise, students work in pairs or groups of 3
  • Each group is assigned a unique family structure
    • One or two parents and two children of varying ages
    • Hourly wage of $8, $11, or $18
    • Health insurance status: private paying 30% of premium, private paying 50% of premium, uninsured
  • Students can determine other characteristics of their family
  • Materials:
    • Students use personal computers to complete calculations and access websites
    • Students are given a packet of materials with website links and program eligibility guidelines
activity 1 calculate eii
Activity 1: Calculate EII
  • Goal: Understand the relationship between the Economic Independence Index and the FPL
  • Output

For an example family of three:

    • Current income if earning $11/hour: $23,232
    • Income if self-sufficient: $65,238 (36% EII)
    • FPL: $18,310 (127% FPL)
    • Difference between current income and income required to be economically self-sufficient: $42,006
activity 2 d evelop an economic independence strategy
Activity 2: Develop an economic independence strategy
  • Goal: develop a strategy to help the family move toward economic independence
  • Key assumptions
    • All programs accessible
    • Health insurance and taxliability requirements
    • Childcare needs
  • Steps and considerations
    • Use family characteristics and program websites to select a strategy; document approach
    • Struggle with balancing family needs with realities of public program restrictions
exercise 3 evaluate approach
Exercise 3: Evaluate approach
    • Assess impact of strategy on hourly wage needed to be self-sufficient
  • Evaluate economic independence
  • Consider feasibility of approach in current environment
  • Students reflect on their experiences in a class discussion facilitated by the class instructor
  • Instructor role
    • Encourage students to share their reflections on the simulation experience, to discuss experiences that were difficult or frustrating
    • Provide details on programs as they are discussed, including review of the reality of program and service availability
the colvins
The Colvins
  • Mary earns $11/hour at CVS and lives with her two children in Dorchester
student reactions
Student reactions
  • “It’s so hard to navigate the system!”
    • Eligible for some programs, not others
    • Literacy level required for program websites
  • “Child care is really expensive.”
    • Surprise at the costs of certain budget items
application to other courses
Application to other courses
  • Use
    • Help explain the role of public programs for low income families
    • Clarify the concept of economic self-sufficiency
    • Support in-depth analyses of the implications of life events on families’ economic status and access to public programs
  • Audiences
    • Medical students
    • Advanced graduate students in public health or social work
    • Students less experienced in public programs and policies
    • Students in courses that examine the impact of poverty from a more theoretical perspective
key benefits
Key benefits
  • Improves students’ understanding of economic self-sufficiency and poverty measures
  • Engages and challenges students to think creatively and develop their own solutions while communicating important information and concepts
  • Offers flexibility for a range of audiences and educational goals
federal poverty guidelines 2010
Federal Poverty Guidelines 2010

Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 148, August 3, 2010

what is the economic independence index
What is the Economic Independence Index?
  • Measure of income adequacy
    • Takes into account costs of living differences
      • family size and composition
      • age of children
      • community variations in costs of housing and childcare
    • Measures categories of costs independently
      • recognizes that families spend greater share of income on housing and childcare than food cost
    • Includes costs associated with working
    • Includes impact of taxes and tax credits
assumptions of economic independence index
Assumptions of Economic Independence Index
  • Employment - all adults work full-time
  • Child care - uses rates from Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, adjusted for age of child
  • Transportation - use public transportation in cities, car ownership in other areas
  • Housing rents-set at 40th%ile of market rate
  • Food - low cost food plan, no allowance for take-out, fast food, restaurant meals
  • Health Care - responsible for 30% of health insurance premium ($9,600/year)