Family Finances

Benefits Over Burdens: Policymaking Lessons from the Expanded Child Tax Credit

November 10, 2021  • Financial Security Program

Policies to boost household cash-flow–including the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC)–were a cornerstone of the federal response during the pandemic and critical to helping families across America avert many financial hardships. The expansion of direct cash assistance–with no strings attached–is especially notable against the backdrop of the 25th anniversary of “welfare reform” and its establishment of the highly conditional and restrictive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Comparing present-day policy to what’s come before can offer critical insights for future policy design.

The effectiveness of policies to boost household cash flow lies in their design. The expanded CTC demonstrates that designing policies in ways that are inclusive and people-centric, so they align with the needs and preferences of the families being served, can dramatically enhance their value to them.

Join the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program and Springboard To Opportunities on Wednesday, November 10th, for a discussion on insights for policy design from the perspective of families these policies are intended to serve, the CTC expansion as a use-case for these insights, and how policymakers can apply these lessons broadly to building a modernized system of benefits – both public and private – that ensures the financial security and economic dignity of all households. This conversation will feature an interview with Djunaita Johnson and Kimberly McNair, women participating in the Magnolia Mother’s Trust–the country’s longest-running guaranteed income demonstration project, the only one in the nation specifically serving Black women in public housing–and a panel of policy experts providing perspectives of how to apply these insights at scale within the benefit system.

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Bryce Covert, Independent Journalist

Bryce Covert is an independent journalist writing about the economy. She is a contributing writer at The Nation, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Wired, the New Republic, Slate, and others. She won a 2016 Exceptional Merit in Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Pamela Herd, Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University

Pamela Herd’s research focuses on inequality and how it intersects with health, aging, and policy. She is also an expert in survey research and biodemographic methods. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Overseers for the General Social Survey, a member of the Board of Overseers for the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a board member for the Population Association of American, and a standing member of a National Institutes for Health review panel for the Social and Population Sciences. She has received grant awards for her work from the National Institutes for Health, National Institutes on Aging, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and AARP. She has a book forthcoming, published by the Russell Sage Foundation: Administrative Burden. Policymaking by other Means.

Aisha Nyandoro, CEO, Springboard To Opportunities

Aisha Nyandoro is the Chief Executive Officer of Springboard To Opportunities. Springboard provides strategic, direct support to residents of federally subsidized affordable housing. The organization’s service delivery model uses a “radically resident-driven” approach designed to improve quality of life and end the generational poverty trajectory. Nyandoro has more than a decade of experience developing, implementing, and evaluating programs aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals with limited resources.

She has worked in various capacities– as an academic, evaluator, philanthropist, and nonprofit executive. These varied experiences have allowed her to better understand systems and policies that impact vulnerable communities. Prior to serving with Springboard, Aisha served as a Program Officer with the Foundation for the Mid South. During her tenure, she strengthened the Foundation’s community development portfolio by executing a plan focused on five specific strategies aimed at transforming communities.

She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Tennessee State University, a M.A. in Community Psychology and Urban Affairs and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Michigan State University. Aisha has received multiple honors, including recognition as a fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network and Ascend at the Aspen Institute. Aisha’s life mission is to holistically and compassionately lift families out of cycles of poverty. When not working to transform impoverished communities, she is a wife and mommy to the best two little boys in the world.

Radha Seshagiri, Director, Public Policy and Systems Change, SaverLife

Radha joins SaverLife as Director, Public Policy and Systems Change. She comes to this role with deep experience in state, federal, and international policy work, and has worked on advocacy campaigns focusing on economic and social justice.

As the National Policy Director for Tom Steyer’s presidential campaign, Radha built a bold policy agenda to address the way in which Americans build wealth, while fostering a network of supporters, organizations, and advocates committed to similar goals.

Most recently, at NextGen Policy, she worked on legislative campaigns in California, working closely with large and diverse coalitions to advocate for policies and programs that promote economic justice and opportunity throughout the state.

While at the World Bank, she worked on a range of poverty initiatives focused on developing countries, from writing research papers to organizing conferences. She helped build and develop research communities across the globe, which encouraged staff to share their findings and build collaborative action plans to address poverty.

Radha holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University, a Certificate in International Management from Oxford University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from UC Berkeley. She is fluent in Tamil and proficient in Spanish. When she is not doting on her cat, you’ll find her roaming the cliffs of Northern California beaches or the local farmer’s market.

Rachel Black, Associate Director, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program

Rachel Black is an Associate Director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program. Previously, she was the Director of New America’s Family-Centered Policy program, which advocated a strategy for designing more equitable and inclusive social policies by centering the communities who would be directly impacted. As part of this work, she led a collaboration with Springboard to Opportunities in Jackson, MS around the policy report, Becoming Visible; Race, Economic Security, and Political Voice in Jackson, MS. This report was deeply informed by interviews and focus groups with women living in public housing in Jackson, and culminated with a set of recommendations, including advancement of a guaranteed income. Prior to this role, Rachel was a Senior Policy Analyst in New America’s Asset Building Program and focused on a range of policies to increase financial security among low-income households. Rachel brings extensive experience analyzing cash-transfer policies, developing reform options, and communicating these ideas to broad audiences, and her work has been featured in a diverse set of outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, and Essence.

Previously, Rachel was a policy analyst in the Government Relations department of the national grassroots anti-hunger organization Bread for the World. Rachel holds a BS in History, Technology, and Society from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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This event was developed as part of the Global Inclusive Growth Partnership, a collaboration between the Aspen Institute and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. It was also developed with generous support from JPMorgan Chase, Prudential Financial, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.