Families with Children

MDRCʼs families and children studies aim to deepen public understanding of how the life chances of low-income children and youth are influenced by policies that affect their familiesʼ economic circumstances, family relationships, or the opportunities available for child and youth development.


A Review of the Literature

More than 5 million American children under the age of 18, a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Latino, have had a parent incarcerated. This report reviews studies about promising programs that seek to maintain and build healthy relationships between parents who are incarcerated and their children.

Issue Focus

Using Existing Services During the Pandemic

Many families with young children experienced severe strains during the pandemic—unemployment, increasing poverty, and increased anxiety and depression. State program administrators can help by strengthening home visiting services and using pediatric visits to reach families. This brief offers recommendations based on evidence of promising strategies, and insights from MDRC’s work.

Issue Focus

New approaches to child support enforcement aim to be less punitive and to serve the whole family, not just child support recipients. Lessons from Washington State’s Alternative Solutions Program show how this shift in perspective has made a difference during the pandemic.