Family Scholar House White Papers

These white papers were compiled on behalf of Family Scholar House to bring together research from subject-matter experts to inform the mission and work of Family Scholar House.


The Child Care Conundrum 

Cracking the child care code

Child care in America presents a classic conundrum. Which problem came first? Which should we address first? Why does cracking the child care code feel like a game of chicken or egg? Child care costs vary widely by state, making this a relatively localized issue.1

Further, child care for infants costs everyone more money than it does for toddlers.2 This means our parents with the youngest children are often able to save more by staying home than they would earn if they returned to work and paid for child care.2

For families for whom that may not be the case, finding reliable, flexible child care is another hurdle. Meanwhile, the pipeline of child care workers is, and has been, drying up.

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How Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Correlate to Self-Sufficiency and the Positive Impact of Family Scholar House’s HEROES Program for Tomorrow’s Leaders

In 2019, Family Scholar House piloted a new program to address Health, Education, Resilience, Opportunity, and Economic Stability (HEROES). Recognizing that these are big issues that require an investment of time and a commitment to the process in order to make significant change, FSH created a customized database to both track progress and support evaluation of the program’s impact. Family Scholar House was already providing robust assistance to single parents pursuing higher education, serving thousands of single parents each year. The HEROES program extended that work by paving an on-ramp to self-sufficiency through a pre-residential program for single parents pursuing higher education. That is, rather than waiting for individuals in need to move into Family Scholar House residential housing, self- sufficiency programming was extended to individuals prior to the availability of housing. In 2022, an independent research study was commissioned to evaluate the program and its results.

As this white paper shows, it makes financial sense for policymakers to increase their efforts to fund these types of programs that produce tangible, short- and long-term returns on investment for communities and their economies.

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Proving Poverty vs. Prosperity

More than half of state legislators report that differences between eligibility requirements within the public benefit programs are a “top challenge.”—The tension between government accountability and true public benefit is aggravated by the fact that most asset limits are outdated, and the costs are serious. One in five dollars spent by state and federal governments goes toward public benefits. Changes to these programs would have significant economic and budget ramifications.

This paper will show distinct connections between asset limits and inability for low-income Americans to reach self-sufficiency. Research within this paper will demonstrate how asset limit policies are in direct conflict with widely-accepted best practices for family finances and contrary to the goals of the policies themselves. Finally, this paper will review and discuss how asset limits contribute to harmful stigmas, even though some populations subject to asset limits will never, and are not intended to ever, cease receiving benefits.

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The Trauma Factor

How the Hidden Costs of Trauma are Costing America Billions — This white paper will explore the economic costs of trauma, both at the societal level and at the individual level. We will look to identify the complex relationships and interdependencies between costs of trauma to businesses, government, taxpayers, schools, and families. Focusing on a central definition of trauma, readers can expect to learn how the trauma reactions result in lower workforce participation (particularly among women), lower degrees of educational attainment, and rising healthcare costs. This white paper will also focus on how trauma impacts costs to the judicial system and substance use disorder programs.

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One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

How Americans are Falling off of the Benefits Cliff and
What You Can Do About It—
Widely acknowledged as an imperfect system, the social safety net’s shortcomings make the benefits cliff phenomenon one of the most critical barriers to 59 million Americans becoming self-sufficient. Because of this, many families find that even a slight increase in income can result in the loss of eligibility for their benefits, creating a net loss of up to thousands in their monthly household budget. This white paper will argue that longer on and off ramps are needed to ensure fiscal responsibility of tax dollars. Further, reforms are needed to spur recipients to achieve lifelong self-sufficiency and to become economic catylists.

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The Case for Apprenticeships

Return on investment of leveraging Kentucky’s young minds through modern apprenticeships—When beginning this paper, Family Scholar House knew that apprenticeships were helpful to its participants.
However, the data presented in this paper is even more compelling than anticipated.

Family Scholar House believes there will always be a critical need for the traditional college and university pathway, but broadening apprenticeships in partnership with the postsecondary world presents an opportunity for all partners in education to work together. If this can be achieved, Kentucky’s and America’s education systems will be able to produce highly-qualified, deliberately-trained workers across a wide variety of industries at unprecedented volume. Models in other states and countries show that when businesses, postsecondary partners, and K-12 pipelines work together, shared costs create increased returns on investment for all.

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