Family Policy and the American Safety Net shows how families adapt to economic and demographic change. Government programs provide a safety net against the new risks of modern life. Family policy includes any public program that helps families perform their four universal obligations of caregiving, income provision, shelter, and transmission of citizenship. In America, this means that child care, health care, Social Security, unemployment insurance, housing, the quality of neighborhood schools, and antidiscrimination and immigration measures are all key elements of a de facto family policy. Yet many students and citizens are unaware of the history and importance of these programs. This book argues that family policy is as important as economic and defense policy to the future of the nation, a message that is relevant to students in the social sciences, social policy, and social work as well as to the public at large.
This book attempts to answer two questions: What is family policy? Why does it exist, or put another way, why is it important and what function does it serve? The answers given here differ from answers given in the past.
What is family policy? The lay public as well as academic experts think of family policy as fairly specialized public programs that include maternal and child health, child welfare, assistance to poor families, and work and family integration such as found in the Family and Medical Leave Act. The thesis of this book, however, is that family policy is all around us and is hiding in plain sight. Family policy, in fact, includes a very wide range of policies called by other names. Important elements ...