Laura Cuesta, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work, has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) for her proposal, “The Regularity of Child Support and Its Contribution to Family Self-Sufficiency.” Supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), IRP conducts an annual Extramural Research Funding Program to support timely research that addresses policy-relevant questions. This national call for proposals is very competitive, and Cuesta received the award under the emerging scholars’ category, which this year aims to support research that generates potential policy and/or programmatic implications for the child support enforcement program at the federal, state, or local level.
Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), which is the longest running longitudinal household survey in the world, Cuesta’s study will be the first to look at the role of child support regularity in improving self-sufficiency among single-mother families in the U.S. Regularity of child support receipt has been found to reduce the risk of housing instability and child food insecurity, but no one has ever looked at its contributions to family self-sufficiency because of data limitations. Cuesta’s findings will provide insight as to whether the lack of regular child support payments increases the need for public assistance and the risk of food insecurity among single-mother families. Because employment and earnings instability among low-income, nonresident fathers affects child support regularity, findings from this study also have the potential to inform policies focused on enhancing nonresident fathers’ ability to provide adequate and consistent support to their children.