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

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