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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Parenting, Childcare Services Have Most Potential to Help Low-Income Families

A national survey of 2-1-1 helpline staff rated childcare, parenting and child health/healthcare as most important to improve the lives of children in low-income families, according to a study from the Washington University in St. Louis – Brown School Public Health Programs.

Researchers asked 2-1-1 staff to rank the needs of callers with children based on which needs, if addressed, would help families most. A total of 471 information and referral specialists, resource managers and call center directors from 44 states, Puerto Rico and Canada responded.

Childcare, parenting and child health care were rated most important. Respondents said the adequacy of resources to address those issues varied, with most saying their communities had adequate resources for health care but not for help with serious child problems or quality, affordable childcare. Authors of the study say the results suggest that regular screenings for those issues by professionals such as health care providers would be valuable.

“Brief screenings for social needs by 2-1-1 staff or health care providers, followed by provision of referrals to community resources, have the potential to substantially alter the life course of children living in poverty” says Dr. Tess Thompson, research assistant professor at the Brown School. “At the same time, advocacy efforts are needed both nationally and at the local level to establish, expand or redirect resources and ensure that all families get the help they need. ”

The study was published online May 23 in the Journal of Child Health Care.

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[Photo: Dr. Tess Thompson]