The Precarious State of Family Balance Sheets


This report seeks to develop a clear picture of the current state of household financial security. It explores the ways three components of family balance sheets—income, expenditures, and wealth—have changed over the past several decades, how they interrelate, and why understanding family finances requires that they be examined together.

The study reveals a striking level of financial fragility: Despite the national recovery, many families have experienced minimal wage growth, have few savings, and could not withstand a financial emergency. This reality must begin to change if the American Dream is to remain alive and well for future generations.
Key Findings:

2% Total growth in earnings for typical U.S. worker from 1999-2009.
9 days Length those at the bottom of the income ladder can survive on liquid savings.
70% of U.S. households face financial strains on income, expenditures, or wealth.
6% growth in average household expenditures since 1984, after adjusting for inflation.
Learn More!

It’s Been 18 Years – Let’s Do This!

Child Care and Development Block Grant Poised for Reauthorization
The U.S. Senate reconvened today and one of the first items on its agenda is the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, S. 1086 (CCDBG) The legislation has been 18 years in the making – there hasn’t been a reauthorization since 1996.

CCDBG provides funding to assist working poor families in affording child care and to improve child care quality. According to Child Care of America, CCDBG funds allow on average 77,900 North Carolina children to attend early child care and learning programs.

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr has played an instrumental role in moving the CCDBG reauthorization forward. He was part of a bipartisan group that negotiated the legislation. The group included Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

According to a brief by the Early Learning Policy Group, the legislation “improves the quality of child care by requiring basic health and safety protections for children whose care is paid for by taxpayer dollars. The funds set-aside for state activities to improve the quality of care will require more accountability for the use of those dollars. In addition, more emphasis will be placed on strengthening the child care workforce, the cornerstone of quality child care.”

North Carolina relies heavily on federal funding for child care subsidy, both through CCDBG and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. Over the past several years, the state has significantly decreased the amount of state general funding appropriated for child care subsidy.

Take Action

  1. Call Senator Burr and thank him for his support: (202) 224-3154.
  2. Contact your representative and let him/her know why CCDBG is important for your community.
  3. Tweet and Post to Facebook your support. Sample tweets include:
  • Thank you @SenatorBurr for supporting #CCDBG. High quality #ece is good for #NC children, families and the economy.
  • With high quality #ece children are school ready, graduate & grow into productive citizens. Support #CCDBG reauthorization.
  • 20 yrs is a long time! Reauthorize #CCDBG to support children’s #first2000days and build a thriving #NC.

More Information
For the Early Learning Policy Group’s bill summary
For a copy of the bipartisan press announcement
For a copy of the bill

Voices for Human Needs Blog

NOVEMBER 7, 2014
America’s safety net is one of our most maligned and threatened public institutions, where attacks rely on arguments about decreasing the size of government and “entitlement reform.” But a funny thing happens when you ask Americans what they are willing to cut: the answer is, not much. READ MORE »

NOVEMBER 6, 2014
Here’s some of what was on people’s minds as they voted, according to polls taken on Election Day: Two-thirds (65 percent) said the country is seriously off-track. 70 percent rated the economy fair or poor. Although more people (28 percent) said their own financial situation was improved than in previous polls, about 7 in 10 said their situation was about the same or worse. READ MORE »

NOVEMBER 5, 2014
While many eyes around Washington were on the federal congressional races yesterday and on which party would end up with control of the Senate, there were also important state-level ballot measure campaigns happening all across the country.

Early Education

Recently released studies have shown that quality pre-kindergarten education may hold the key to a successful future. Currently, 60 percent of Maine school districts offer programs for 4-year-olds. But for the other 40 percent, the reason why they don’t is a familiar story — money.

Watch Part 1
Watch Part 2

King visits Waterville’s Educare Central Maine

WATERVILLE — Since Hayden Breton was two months old, her mother has brought her to Educare Central Maine for early childhood education. Breton’s now 4, and her mother attributed Educare’s work for helping to educate her daughter. “This place just helped bring Hayden out of her shell,” said Megan Knowles. “It helped her socially and her mannerisms — her language is more advanced.” Knowles was one of the guests at Educare Wednesday afternoon when Sen. Angus King visited.


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A letter from Dick Ober: The youngest among us

The youngest among us

By Richard Ober, president and CEO


“This may be the most important work of my career.”

When my colleague Anne Phillips said that recently about a new childhood poverty initiative in Manchester, it got my attention fast. Like all our program officers, Anne works on many issues and cares about them all. But the topic we were discussing that day stands apart. It is this: Children across New Hampshire seem to be falling into poverty at a faster rate than any state in the nation.

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Confronting the Child Care Eligibility Maze

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which helps defray the costs of child care for low-income working families, has two program goals: to help parents become or remain employed, and to support the safety and development of their children. Yet these goals can be compromised by burdensome administrative processes that make it challenging for low-income families to get and keep child care benefits.
Read the Report