Current Issue

Overlapping Public Investments in Child Well-Being: A Reconsideration of the Social Safety Net

Special Editors: Margot I. Jackson, Susan L. Moffitt, and Susanna Loeb

Vol. 706, May 2023

American public benefit provision bears little resemblance to a safety net capable of preventing people from experiencing economic devastation. It is not a carefully planned machinery of complimentary programs, but individual threads of support, some of which connect, many of which do not. The increased need for public benefit provision during the COVID-19 pandemic has renewed national and state policy debates on the importance of a comprehensive system of public investment in children.

This volume draws on perspectives from various academic disciplines to both identify the public supports that children need to thrive and to analyze existing models of complementary public support provision that do benefit children. The persistence of individual program-based support provision and administrative burden make it difficult for the current system to operate as a comprehensive safety net, but recent innovations offer hope: these include expansion of the Child Tax Credit and collaborations between public agencies and organizations that help integrate aspects of service delivery. Missing, however, is the political will at all levels of government to invest in an infrastructure of support.

From the Archives

Truth as a Weapon in the Free World
Vol. 278, November 1951
Richard Brecker

From the Introduction

In an address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 20, 1950, President Truman declared that it was necessary for us to “make ourselves heard round the world in a great campaign of truth.” Calling attention to the vital importance of the psychological front in the present battle for world friendship, the President noted that the task of presenting the truth “to the millions who are uninformed or misinformed or unconvinced… is not separate and distinct from other elements of our foreign policy. It is as important as armed strength or economic aid.  ‘We must,’ he said, ‘pool our efforts with those of the other free peoples in a sustained, intensified program to promote the cause of freedom against the propaganda of slavery.'”