The federal government took important action at the start of 2009 to try and mitigate the impact of the recession on state services with the stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). However, as a recent report for the Urban Institute points out, ARRA is “due to expire well before the effects of the current recession”. Continued high levels of unemployment and family poverty have resulted in historically large budget gaps and public service cuts for states, but also a less tangible, ‘scarring’ effect for young displaced workers and children growing up in poor families.

The report, “Reducing Poverty and Economic Distress After ARRA: Next Steps for Short-Term Recovery and Long-Term Economic Security”, outlines key goals for federal antipoverty policy that will reduce damage to children and youth.

These goals include:

  • Jobs, income support, and services to poor and unemployed families to relieve short-term distress over the next 3-5 years
  • Preparation of policy responses that might be needed for the next economic downturn
  • Long-term investments in poverty reduction, both extending some ARRA provisions, as well as going beyond them

The report also discusses the link between unemployment, poverty, and mobility to damaged development in young children and concludes that federal investments should utilize work and two-generational strategies to stabilize families and support stable, high-quality service settings for children outside the home.