On February 27th, Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), hosted a panel-led webinar entitled “Promoting Health Equity Through Economic Opportunity.” The webinar highlighted discussion around the impact economic stability or mobility can have on a family’s overall health and well-being.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, a plethora of families have experienced economic distress or challenges due to increased housing costs and other related factors. Familial economic hardships can be tied to negative impacts on overall well-being, such as poor health and increased involvement in the child welfare system. Isabel Dickson, the Economic Mobility Program Manager in the Children, Youth and Families Branch at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, acknowledged that children who “experience poverty for an extended period, experience more adverse health consequences throughout their lives.”

It is through implementation of federal, state, and community interventions that individuals can work to enhance family financial stability and promote community health. Panelists emphasized several policy-related supports that would assist in economically benefitting United States families: greater access to paid family leave, affordable childcare, tax credits, and others. The advantageous effects of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) were already demonstrated through its ability to reduce child poverty by about half when it was expanded during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rachel Snyderman, Director of Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, noted that studies have shown that “the climbing of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit can help increase birth weight of children” and “decrease the rates of infant mortality.” However, many individuals in the United States (new parents/caregivers, immigrants, etc.) do not file for tax credits and are unaware that they are eligible to receive certain supports. It is imperative that organizations advertise the availability of tax credits and make information more accessible to families through methods such as media, adequate language translation and interpretation services, and public information campaigns. Establishment of various organizational partnerships (such as at the state level), and cross-sector collaboration, can also assist with distributing relevant information and creation of sustainable support programs.

Other supports and resources can also be implemented to assist in economic mobility. As the Urban Institute’s Upward Mobility Framework and its three-part definition (economic success, being valued in community, and power and autonomy) of mobility from poverty emphasize, other components and resources other than financial success may need to be addressed in order to create sustainable mobility from poverty. The Upward Mobility Framework is a valuable tool for leaders to use in evaluating and prioritizing their community’s resources/opportunities that support upward mobility from poverty with a focus on racial equity.

By Emmalyn Walenda, Policy Intern