Cuts to Legal Services Corporation Would Disproportionately Harm Survivors of Domestic Violence

Cuts to Legal Services Corporation Would Disproportionately Harm Survivors of Domestic Violence

President Trump’s 2018 budget released Tuesday provides key insights into the new Administration’s policy priorities, which, if passed, would shift funding away from services that help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The proposed budget cuts all federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a program that helps low-income people access much needed legal aid. Domestic violence survivors disproportionally benefit from legal aid services. According to program data, 70 percent of LSC clients are women, and family cases—domestic abuse, divorce/separation/annulment, and child custody issues—are the largest number of cases supported by LSC attorneys.

Economic insecurity is often a key barrier for survivors trying to leave abusive relationships. Research finds that an estimated three in four survivors (74 percent) stay with an abuser for economic reasons, and one study of 103 domestic violence survivors found that nearly all (99 percent) experienced economic abuse—including tactics such as generating credit card debt or sabotaging employment—that limit their options and make them financially dependent on the abuser. On average, victims lose over 7 days of paid work per year. In addition to lost wages, many victims lose their jobs as a result of abuse.  Results of small research studies done in Wisconsin, Chicago, and Maine find rates of job loss due to violence ranging from 30 to 60 percent.  Survivors often face high costs for medical care and treatment — one regional study finds that health care costs for women who experience physical abuse are 42 percent higher than for other women.  The many individual costs of violence create economic insecurity that compromises safety, independence, and access to justice.

For survivors who cannot afford legal fees, legal aid services may be one of the few resources to safely separate and protect their children from an abusive partner. Victims who work with an attorney are more likely to be granted an order of protection than those who represent themselves – 83 percent versus 32 percent, according to one study in Maryland. Orders of protection help ensure physical safety and can include protections that allow survivors to safely remain at work, school, or in their homes. Abusive partners often contest divorce cases, which can exacerbate violence and harm to children, and may seek custody of children to further coerce and control their partners. Experienced legal representation is essential for survivors’ safety, justice, and support. Unfortunately, survivors’ options for affordable and accessible legal help beyond LCS are also shrinking, making this resource even more essential. The National Network to End Domestic Violence 2016 Domestic Violence Counts census found that legal representation by an attorney was the second most sought-after—but unmet—request, and that only 12 percent of programs nationally were able to provide this service.

Policymakers can work to promote safety and justice for survivors by helping them cover costs faced when leaving an abuser and to support opportunities to build their long-term economic stability and independence. Research suggests that survivors need greater access to affordable or free legal services, not less. Cuts to legal services would limit the resources available to help survivors navigate the justice system to ensure their safety and promote greater economic security for themselves and their families. As it stands, the proposed budget from the Trump Administration would make it even more cost prohibitive to leave an abuser.


To view more of IWPR’s research, visit IWPR.org

Women’s Health Matters to the U.S. Economy

Access to affordable health care is a topic on everyone’s minds. For women, the stakes are high as the national conversation on the United States healthcare system and its future continues to wind its way through Congress. Not only is this National Women’s Health Week, but the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We already know how important the status of women’s health and well-being are to families and to the economy – we just need to remind our policymakers and toughen our stance with facts.

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Women are the co- or sole breadwinners in half of American families with children. We’ve seen improvements in women’s mortality rates from chronic diseases, but we’ve lost ground on worsening suicide rates and mental health.

Poor health can pose obstacles to financial stability, educational attainment, and employment, while good health allows women to thrive. Women’s status related to health and wellness also varies considerably by race and ethnicity. Black women are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease, and nearly three times as likely to die from breast cancer, as Asian/Pacific Islander women, the group with the lowest rates. White women have the highest lung cancer mortality rate and are three times more likely to die from lung cancer than Hispanic women, the group with the lowest rate.

Paid family and medical leave programs, which can help women take time to recover from pregnancy or serious illness, offer economic, social, and health benefits to workers, families, employers, and society. IWPR’s research has found that a paid leave policy could be offered nationwide at modest cost.

Given the current political climate and debate over the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and proposed revision, AHCA (American Health Care Act), it’s important to remember that approximately 5 million women of childbearing age (19 to 44 years old) gained coverage from 2010 to 2015 and more than 90 percent of American women and girls now have health insurance.

In order for women and our economy to thrive, we need unassailable facts and solutions. To do this, IWPR needs your support.

Facts matter, that is why the Institute for Women’s Policy Research works to continually produce high quality research on women and families around the country and around the world – this is what we do, we give you the facts.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.

Access to Child Care Can Improve Student Parent Graduation Rates

Access to Child Care Can Improve Student Parent Graduation Rates

By Barbara Gault and Lindsey Reichlin Cruse

Few studies systematically explore the link between access to child care and college completion among student parents. Existing research and program data, however, suggest that child care plays an important role in helping student parents stay in school and acquire the degree or credential that may open the door to better paying jobs.

Here is what we know about child care access and student parent success in college:

Students who used the on-campus child care center at Monroe Community College in New York were nearly three times as likely to graduate or transfer to a four-year college than student parents who did not use the center.

In 2013, the Office of Institutional Research at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, studied outcomes among its student parent population, finding that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the students who used campus child care returned to school the following fall, compared with just half (51 percent) of student parents who did not use the center, excluding those who graduated. Students who used the center were also nearly three times more likely to graduate or transfer to a four-year college within three years of enrollment (41 percent of students using campus child care, compared with 15 percent who did not use the center).

Student parents receiving child care support from federally-funded CCAMPIS programs appear to graduate at much higher rates than student parents overall, according to data from several campus programs.

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) provides funding, on a competitive basis, to some institutions to provide child care access to low-income student parents. The program serves roughly 90 campuses, and outcome data for CCAMPIS students, while limited and without comparison groups, suggest an association between participating in a CCAMPIS program and improved college success, with substantially higher graduation rates than seen among student parents overall.

For example, among 77 students who participated in the University of Wisconsin-Madison CCAMPIS program from 2005-2011, 83 percent graduated. CCAMPIS participant graduation rates were nearly identical to the 2010 rate among all undergraduate students (85 percent), which is notable: in the United States overall, nonparents are more than twice as likely as parents to graduate (68 percent, compared with 33 percent).

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More than 2 in 5 women community college students who live with young children say they are likely or very likely to withdraw from college to care for dependents.

Data from the 2016 Community College Survey of Student Engagement show that, among students living with young children, nearly three-quarters of women (71 percent) and half of men reported spending over 20 hours a week caring for dependents. These care demands are likely to lead student parents to drop out: 43 percent of women and 37 percent of men living with children say they are likely or very likely to withdraw from college to care for dependents. Previous research suggests that time spent working beyond 20 hours per week substantially decreases college completion rates. While it has not previously been studied, time spent caring for children is likely to have a similar effect, especially when combined with work. (Three states—Arizona, Kentucky, and Washington— require student parents to work at least 20 hours per week to be eligible for Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) child care subsidies.)

Nearly 3 in 5 mothers in Mississippi who had paused or dropped out of school said that having more stable and affordable child care would have helped them stay in college.

IWPR’s survey of 544 women community college students in Mississippi—31 percent of whom were raising dependent children—found that the lack of access to affordable child care threatened their college progress. Among mothers who had taken time off from school or dropped out, nearly three in five (59 percent) reported that having more stable or affordable child care would have helped them stay in college. Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents with children under age 11 said they could not get the quality child care they wanted because it was too expensive—a sentiment that was particularly strong among younger, lower-income, and African-American parents.

“Family commitments” are a top reason that students who leave college would find it difficult to return.

In a 2009 Public Agenda survey of 614 adults (ages 22 -30) who had done at least some college course work, two-thirds said that providing child care would help other students like them complete college successfully, as did over three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents who had not completed their postsecondary education program. In addition, “family commitments” was the second most common reason that returning to college would be difficult for those who had left without graduating.

Creative strategies to increase child care access would contribute to increasing college attendance and completion.

While it stands to reason that better access to child care would encourage parents to return to college and help them stay enrolled, we need more evidence on the strategies that allow states, colleges, and communities to provide these supports affordably and effectively. Parenting responsibilities are emerging as a much bigger factor in students’ ability to access and complete college than anyone might have thought—and better child care access would contribute to increasing college attendance and completion.


To view more of IWPR’s research, visit IWPR.org

Honoring Women’s History Month With Facts That Matter

Honoring Women’s History Month With Facts That Matter

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Facts matter, that is why the Institute for Women’s Policy Research works to continually produce high quality research on women and families around the country and around the world – this is what we do, we give you the factsWomen’s History Month celebrates women’s contributions and raises awareness that for centuries women have been undervalued. That is why what we do is so important. We assist the trailblazers, be that your local representative, investigative reporter, your community organization or women’s group, or the hundreds of thousands of women who want to make their voices heard and show their struggles are real.

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A recent report released by IWPR with OXFAM discusses women in large, low-wage, growing, female-dominated occupations and discusses public policy choices that could increase pay, improve women’s lives, and address the undervaluation of women’s jobs, like child care.

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Another report addresses the undervaluing of women’s jobs in manufacturing, information technology, and transportation where women are often trapped in lower paying, female dominated jobs. With more specific training, however, they can enter good middle-skilled jobs, often in the same work places, that require similar skills, but are male-dominated. Many of these occupations have high projected job openings. Placing women in these middle-skilled occupations can help women seeking to improve their earnings, and employers looking to fill the vacancies. You can learn more about these middle-skilled jobs by visiting our website and interactive jobs database www.womenandgoodjobs.org.

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Job training for occupations like those mentioned above can be hard for many women to complete due to the often limited availability of supportive services in the workforce development systemA new IWPR report series assesses the current knowledge about existing services and shows the importance of supportive services for low-income individuals. Common barriers to completing employment training (including lack of access to child care, transportation, and stable housing) are discussed, and solutions for improving access to these important supports are offered.

With your help we have been able to systematically disseminate compellingly presented studies that are are crucial to women’s progress.

  • Paid family leave helps women stay employed and strengthens their ability to increase their pay to help support their families.
  • Closing the gender wage gap could take another 45 years, until 2059, for men and women to reach parity if the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960—and longer for women of color. Our work explores solutions that raise women’s pay such as making overtime pay more available.
  • Our Student Parent Success Initiative focuses on supporting student parents in postsecondary education. The project involves research, tool-building, technical assistance, public education, and networking with advocates, policymakers, and practitioners invested in the success of student parents.

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This Women’s History Month, as we look forward, our desire to better the lives of women and families cannot continue without your help. Please consider making a donation to IWPR to help us achieve our mission to advance women’s status through social science research, policy analysis, and public education.

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Read our blog post, An Economy without Women? 5 Facts to Knowhighlighting what the economy might look like without women and the crucial role women play in the economy every day.

 

An Economy without Women? 5 Facts to Know

An Economy without Women? 5 Facts to Know

5 Facts about Women and the Economy in Advance of the ‘Day without Women’

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, organizers of the “Day Without Women” are set to participate in a general strike with the intention of minimizing economic activity by women. It’s uncertain as to how large the strike will be or who will participate.

Just how much do women contribute to the economy? Nearly 75 million women over the age of 18 work in the United States. Taken together, working adult women earn $2.8 trillion in a single year, not counting the value of their unpaid work at home.

Here are five other things you need to know about women and the economy in advance of International Women’s Day.

  1. Hispanic Women Will Wait 232 Years for Equal Pay, If Current Trends Continue.

IWPR analysis has found that women overall will not see equal pay until 2059, but projections by race and ethnicity find that women of color have much longer to wait until pay equity. The exceptionally slow pace of progress for Hispanic women is nearly two centuries behind when White women should expect to see equal pay with White men (2056). Black women are not projected see equal pay until 2124.

>> Read IWPR’s Resources on Pay Equity & Discrimination, including Five Ways to Win an Argument about the Gender Wage Gap, our fact sheet that clarifies the most common myths about gender wage gap statistics.

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  1. Equal pay would cut poverty by more than half for working women and grow the U.S. economy.

Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower lifetime pay for women, less income for families, and higher rates of poverty across the United States. In each state in the country, women experience lower earnings and higher poverty rates than men. The economic impact of this persistent pay inequality is far-reaching: if women in the United States received equal pay with comparable men, poverty for working women would be reduced by half and the U.S. economy would have added $482 billion (equivalent to 2.8 percent of 2014 GDP) to its economy.

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  1. Job Segregation keeps 1 in 4 working women in traditional care, serving, and cleaning roles with lowest pay.

Undervalued and Underpaid in America, a recent study by IWPR and Oxfam America finds that workers in growing, low-wage, female-dominated jobs—who are disproportionately women of color—earn less than men working in similar jobs. For instance, maids and housekeepers, who earn $9.94 per hour, are 90 percent female, while janitors, who are mostly men, earn 22 percent more, at $12.13 per hour.

“Millions of women work in jobs that are seen as “women’s work” and are in fact done disproportionately by women, such as teaching young children, cleaning, serving and caring for elders — essential jobs that, despite requiring physical skill, emotional labor and often, postsecondary education, offer workers low wages and scant benefits.” – IWPR’s Barbara Gault and Oxfam America’s Mary Babic wrote in an op-ed on the findings for PBS NewsHour, “The Economy Undervalues Women’s Work and That Needs to Change.”

>>Read: IWPR Program Director on Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch answered some frequently asked questions on the wage gap for Oxfam America’s blog, “Why DO women earn less than men? And other vexing questions.” (A great resource for how to respond to common questions from a wage gap skeptic!)

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  1. Women account for only 1 in 3 workers in good, growing, middle-skill occupations.

Improving women’s access to good middle-skill jobs can help close the wage gap and improve women’s economic security, while also filling reported skills shortages. IWPR’s analysis of more than 400 occupations finds that many women work in jobs that already have a similar skill profile to better paying, male-dominated jobs in manufacturing, information technology, and transportation—jobs that employers report are facing skills shortages.

For example, library assistants—8 in 10 of whom are women—get paid almost $24,000 less per year than IT support specialists, nearly 3 in 4 of whom are men. Based on the analysis, these two occupations share many similar characteristics, and with some additional training and education, library assistants could become IT support specialists, improving their own earnings and filling growing demand for IT workers.

>>Read: IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann and JP Morgan Chase’s Chauncy Lennon delve into what the findings mean for closing the gender and skills gap in an op-ed for U.S. News & World Report.

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  1. A national paid leave policy could help young working mothers, a group least likely to have access to leave

A research series from IWPR and IMPAQ International finds that a national paid leave policy would benefit working women, younger workers, and workers of color and, depending on the policy alternative enacted, cost less than half of one percent of payroll. About half (50.5 percent) of young mothers are not eligible for unpaid, job-protected leave under FMLA. Yet, first-time mothers who utilized paid leave were 26 percent less likely to quit their jobs and were 18 percent more likely to work for the same employer after the birth of their first child.

Another IWPR report finds a growing body of research suggesting that paid family leave increases labor market attachment, economic security, and the health and welfare of families and children, and has the potential to help businesses thrive, reduce spending on public benefits programs, and promote economic growth and competitiveness. Paid leave is a win-win-win:  good for the employee, good for the employer, and good for the economy.

“As Congress and the new President search for a real fiscal stimulus with long-term payoffs, they should look no further than fighting for equal pay for women and investing in paid family leave and quality, affordable child care.” – IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York wrote in an op-ed for TIME, “Pay Women More If You Want a Stronger Economy.”


To view more of IWPR’s research, visit IWPR.org

New Survey of Job Training Participants Indicates Supportive Services are Critical to Completing a Program

New Survey of Job Training Participants Indicates Supportive Services are Critical to Completing a Program

IWPR recently released findings from a survey of nearly 2,000 job training participants. Below are some insights from the participants captured in the survey. Read the full report, Supports that Matter in Workforce Development Programs: A National Client Survey on Access to Services at iwpr.org and read the press release with key findings, “Groundbreaking Survey Finds Access to Services Like Child Care and Transportation Can Impact Success in Job Training Programs.”

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Over half of participant respondents said their program helped them gain access to computers or other technology, and about half of respondents said their program helped them with peer support. Respondents had varied reasons for entering job training programs, one participant answered:

 “I decided to enroll in job training because I wanted a better experience for life. I also wanted to see myself as a successful woman, without depending on anybody.”

Another said:

“[I wanted to enroll in job training] to show my child that if I can do anything, she can do anything. Plus, I want to prove to myself [that] I can do it.”

But many respondents face challenges during job training that may affect their success in the program. The most common challenges reported were difficulty paying bills and transportation problems.

Those who received supportive services report having better completion rates and stronger intentions of completion. Some pointed to greater financial stability, as one respondent noted:

 “All the assistance I received from this program has been incredibly important in keeping me in my program. Without it, I have to make decisions like whether to pay for rent or food or pay for school fees.”

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Others noted the importance of additional resources like peer support. One respondent said:

“The support that [the program] has given me is far more than I can give back. They are very important to me because they have stood by me and pushed me to better myself and shown me that I can do much more than I could have ever thought.”

And another respondent explained:

“When you are down and out the support from the other members and instructors means the world to you. It did to me and I thank God every day that I had a chance to go to the program and get the emotional support from these wonderful women.”

By continuing to build and strengthen partnerships, organizations can improve access to supportive services among job training participants. Other possible strategies for ensuring that participants’ needs are met include striving to increase supports that represent participants’ greatest unmet needs, including the experiences and viewpoints of program leaders in making the case for increased public funding for supportive services, and encouraging the use of funds from underutilized sources such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training for supportive services. If possible, programs should increase their support for child care through referrals or other means, and pilot new models for supporting the child care needs of mothers and fathers in training. Community colleges can work to develop partnerships with social service and other community-based organizations to strengthen their students’ access to supportive services.

To read the full report, visit iwpr.org.

 

A Time to Honor, Reflect, and Inspire Change

A Time to Honor, Reflect, and Inspire Change

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Black History Month provides this country the opportunity to shine light on ignored history and neglected truths, as well as to inspire us throughout the year to fight for progress. We draw that inspiration from the acts of great Americans who fought for noble ideas and the most basic right of human dignity. The struggle is constant and we all have a part to play.

As a leading think tank in the United States addressing policy through an intersectional and gendered lens, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) marshals social science research and brings it to bear on the inequalities women face every day. Since IWPR’s founding, our research has explored the differences experienced by women across different races and ethnicities. Black women in the workforce face greater pay inequality than their White counterparts, but are the fastest growing group starting their own businessesThey vote at higher rates than any other group, but have the lowest representation in elected office.

The Pacific West is the most broadly diverse region in the country, according to a new measure of regional demographic diversity developed by IWPR. The new measure scores each region based on the number of women from each racial and ethnic group, rather than on the concentration of the non-White population as a whole.

As The Atlantic’s CityLab notes in its coverage of the findings, “Only when lawmakers gain a detailed understanding of who the most vulnerable women are and what specific problems they face can they create an environment where all women thrive.”

IWPR President Heidi Hartmann told CityLab:

“We need to understand that diversity is a nuanced concept, with tremendous variation, so that we can target policy solutions and make sure no group slips through the cracks.”

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Consider making a donation to IWPR today to help us continue to produce quality research from all backgrounds. Our research is used daily by the media, policy makers, and the general public to draw attention to the needs of women and craft solutions.

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108 years is too long to wait for pay equalityDonate now.