Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

Social Policy and Equity

African American heterosexual couple with child

Food stamps. Head Start. Childcare subsidies. The Family and Medical Leave Act. Section 8 housing vouchers. When implemented with health equity in mind, programs like these promote an equitable distribution of health-promoting resources to ensure that all families have access to the conditions that children need to thrive.

Health equity requires a commitment to remove all determinants of health disparities, like racism, poverty and discrimination. Although family-supporting policies are designed to serve all needy children and families, many may not actively promote racial equity, leading to discriminatory impacts on Black and Hispanic children and their families. Often policymakers lack the necessary tools and information to strengthen policy and programs in order to make them accessible for all children and families. Researchers at the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy examine factors that produce child and health inequities, including barriers to fair policy implementation, and collaborate with policymakers, academics, advocates, and public sector leaders to increase equity.

ICYFP researchers developed the Policy Equity Assessment (PEA) to assist analysts and researchers as they evaluate the impact of policies and programs on racial/ethnic equity. The PEA framework embeds racial/ethnic equity within each policy assessment step and guides analysts to move beyond asking whether a policy is working as intended, to instead ask whether the policy reduces racial/ethnic gaps in outcomes. The PEA emphasizes significant differences by race/ethnicity in access to and quality of services and policy impacts on reducing racial/ethnic disparities.