The NCSL Blog


By Alison May

DID YOU KNOW? NCSL worked with legislators and legislative staff to design a new guidebook for considering prenatal-to-three issues and policy options. Strong Beginnings, Successful Lives: A Prenatal-to-Three Policy Guidebook for Legislators is now available. Check it out and learn more about infant and toddler baseline facts and figures, state examples and actions to consider taking in your state.

child eating watermelonNCSL’s Children and Families program covers many human services issues, including child support and family law, child welfare, early care and education, family economic security, housing and homelessness. For more about our program visit us at


Federal Child Welfare Law

Congress enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act in 2018, and states are responding in a variety of ways. This landmark legislation offers states a rare opportunity to transform their child welfare systems by providing substance abuse, mental health and other prevention and treatment services to reduce family involvement with the child welfare systems. Read NCSL’s new two-page LegisBrief to learn more.

Legislative Summit Wrapup

NCSL’s annual 2019 Legislative Summit was a great success with close to 7,000 registrants. Check out the wide variety of resources available through the Health and Human Services track, including speaker bios, presentations, handouts and links to streamed sessions.

Early Childhood Archived Webinars

Earlier this month experts from Child Trends presented How Policymakers Can Support Early Childhood Data Governance. The webinar addressed state early childhood governance structures and provided action steps for consideration to develop cross-agency data governance that supports shared collection and use of early childhood data.

In July, an NCSL webinar titled Innovative Early Learning Financing Mechanisms explored innovative financing strategies to ensure access to high-quality early learning services and support for providers. Louise Stoney’s slide deck and the archived webinar are now available.

Child Support and Employment Services Brief

This brief explores opportunities at the state and federal levels to provide employment services to noncustodial parents and increase child support payments in the process. In fiscal year 2018, noncustodial parents were obligated to pay nearly $33.6 billion in current child support on behalf of the 15 million children served by the Title IV-D child support program. One-third of that, or $11 billion, was not collected. Download the brief to learn more.

Mitigating Benefits Cliffs

Benefits cliffs, or the sudden drop off of public assistance due to modest increases in income, is increasingly being seen by state and federal policymakers as a deterrent to employment and family economic stability. NCSL’s brief Moving Up: Helping Families Climb the Economic Ladder by Addressing Benefits Cliffs looks at the issue and discusses a menu of policy options state policymakers could consider to address and mitigate the effects of benefits cliffs. 


Should We Expand Child Care Subsidies?

Access to quality and affordable child care is becoming a more urgent matter for more families. Child care subsidies through the Child Care Development Fund can help low-income working parents ensure the healthy development of their children, but the program has funding to serve a small fraction of eligible families. A new report from Urban Institute, “What If We Expanded Child Care Subsidies? A National and State Perspective,” presents a policy option that would ensure a subsidy for every qualifying family earning below 150% of the federal poverty guideline. The report shows the impact, at the national and state level, on maternal employment, the number of families receiving subsidies, and the number of children in poverty.

The Urban Institute has released additional resources focusing on child care supports for parents seeking education and training:

Alison May is a policy associate with NCSL’s Children and Families Program. She covers early care and education issues.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.