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.

Family Income and Economic Security
Family income and economic security

To provide food, shelter, and a place to live for all its members, every family must have some means of economic support. Throughout the millennia, in hunting and gathering, horticultural, and agricultural societies, family units have been the locus for producing and sharing food and caring for children and old people. With urbanization and a money-based economy, where families are far removed from food production, almost every family is dependent on employment to bring in the income that will pay for the basic necessities of life. The loss of a job, absence of a breadwinner, or low-wage employment are all conditions that may require families to get help from outside. However, since the Reagan years of ...

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