Research brief assesses how safety net supports can better meet the needs of families with low incomes

May 15, 2023

Over 13 million Californians participate in safety net programs that provide resources including health insurance, food assistance, and tax credits. The Assessing California Communities' Experiences with Safety Net Supports Survey (ACCESS) is an ongoing study that aims to understand how to improve the delivery of social safety net programs and increase participation of eligible California families. A new ACCESS research brief revealed gaps in the way these support programs met the needs of California households with young children during the COVID pandemic. The research team conducted almost 500 interviews with California households with young children. They found that safety net supports were helpful but insufficient; child care, housing, and mental health supports were resources that families felt were lacking in the current safety net system. Recommendations included developing a more comprehensive and better integrated safety net system that includes affordable child care, adequate income, additional housing support, and mental health care. This research both informs future emergency preparedness and ongoing conversations to improve the existing safety net. The ACCESS research team is led by Lia Fernald from UC Berkeley, Wendi Gosliner from the Nutrition Policy Institute, and Rita Hamad from UC San Francisco. This work was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with additional support from the Tipping Point Foundation and the UC Berkeley Population Center.

By Katherine Lanca
Author - Graduate Student
By Danielle L. Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Wendi Gosliner
Editor - Project scientist
By Rita Hamad