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Mathematica Conducts First Study of WIC Agencies’ Breastfeeding Policies and Practices

May 2, 2015 Comments off

Mathematica Conducts First Study of WIC Agencies’ Breastfeeding Policies and Practices
Source: Mathematica Policy Research

The psychological, economic, and overall health benefits of breastfeeding, for both infants and mothers, are well documented. However, many barriers to breastfeeding exist, including cultural norms, lack of family support, employment and lack of health services, particularly among disadvantaged and low-income populations. In an effort to overcome those barriers, breastfeeding promotion and support is a core component of the nutrition services provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to low-income women and children up to five years of age.

A new In Focus and Research Recap video from Mathematica Policy Research’s WIC Breastfeeding Policy Inventory Study (WIC BPI) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, shed light on the comprehensive range of policies and practices that WIC agencies use to promote breastfeeding. The first study to examine WIC agencies’ breastfeeding policies, the WIC BPI surveyed 90 state-level agencies and nearly 1,800 local WIC agencies.

Mathematica found the following:

+ Nearly 80 percent of local WIC agencies had at least one staff member with a breastfeeding credential.
+ Two-thirds of local WIC agencies operated a peer counseling program to provide breastfeeding support. Peer counseling has been shown to be one of the most successful approaches to encourage mothers to breastfeed.
+ Nearly all local agencies collected information about WIC participants’ breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity, but only about half collected information about intensity.

The WIC BPI lays the groundwork for future research on how agencies’ breastfeeding policies and practices evolve over time and which practices are associated with better breastfeeding rates for different populations. Helping the USDA understand WIC agencies’ currently breastfeeding measurement capabilities can contribute to the design of future breastfeeding reporting systems.

Disabilities — Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Return-to-Work Programs

April 9, 2015 Comments off

Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Return-to-Work Programs (PDF)
Source: Mathematica Policy Research

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP), which leads the nation’s efforts to develop and influence policies and practices to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, has a keen interest in the employment of workers who experience the onset of a disability. As part of its mission, ODEP is interested in promoting successful return-to-work (RTW) strategies that will result in lower public assistance costs for taxpayers, lower personnel costs for employers, and higher incomes for workers with disabilities.

To support this objective, Mathematica Policy Research conducted a review and analysis of existing research, data, and other relevant material to provide a comparison of the cost and benefits of implementing an RTW program in the private sector. More specifically, we compared the costs and benefits of retaining an employee who experiences disability onset to the costs and benefits of permanently losing a valued trained employee and incurring the expense and time of recruiting and developing a replacement employee. In doing so, we assessed whether the net benefits of RTW investments are positive from the perspectives of the employer, the worker with a disability, and taxpayers, and from a societal point of view.

We first provide some relevant background on workers experiencing disability onset and exiting the labor force; the consequences for workers, taxpayers, and employers; and the potential promise of RTW supports.

Analysis of Kindergartners Shows Wide Differences in School Readiness Skills

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Analysis of Kindergartners Shows Wide Differences in School Readiness Skills
Source: Mathematica Policy Research (Sesame Workshop)

New research shows there is still a strong relationship between socio-economic factors and how well American children fare when entering kindergarten. In fact, a new study finds 44 percent of children enter kindergarten with one or more risk factors based on their home environment. These risk factors are incrementally associated with lower school readiness scores for children than for those with no such circumstances. Despite an increase in programs to level the playing field by giving disadvantaged children opportunities for preschool education, these gaps persist.

The analysis examined four risk factors that have been shown to affect children’s development and school achievement: single parent households, mothers with less than a high school education, households with incomes below the federal poverty line, and non-English speaking households. High-risk children (those with all four risk factors) were found to be almost a year behind their peers with no risk factors in their reading and math abilities.

The researchers also created composite readiness scores based on teacher ratings of children’s academic and social skills. Based on the researchers’ calculation, less than one-third of children were rated by teachers as “in-progress” or better on both reading and math skills.

Employment Services and Supports Available to Veterans with Disabilities Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Other Federal Agencies

April 19, 2014 Comments off

Employment Services and Supports Available to Veterans with Disabilities Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Other Federal Agencies (PDF)
Source: Mathematica Center for Studying Disability Policy

The number of military personnel incurring disability in current military conflicts is the highest in over three decades. Since 2001, over 1.6 million service members, Reservists, and National Guard have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern nations. As noted by Lew et al. (2007), advances in medical innovations and body armor have enabled 90 percent of soldiers to survive injuries that would have likely been fatal in previous wars, but many service personnel survive with serious physical and psychological injuries.

The Federal government has recently responded to the growing number of service members with disabilities in several ways. President Obama has signed executive orders to improve federal government hiring of veterans and to require federal agencies to contract with veteran owned agencies. The 2011 American Jobs Act added tax credits to employers hiring veterans with service co nnected disabilities. That same year, the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act was passed and signed into law . The VOW Act provides additional tax credit and training funds for unemployed veterans to prepare them for employment.

Many federal agencies will be involved in the implementation of these initiatives. Employment services and supports for veterans with disabilities is primarily provided by the VA, but the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Labor (DoL) also operate program s specifically targeting veterans with disabilities. Veterans also access other employment service programs that target all individuals with disabilities or persons in need specialized support to obtain employment.

T his report provides an overview of Federally – funded employment services and supports that can be accessed by veterans with disabilities, including those designed to meet the needs of the disabled veteran population specifically, the veteran population in general, and the disability population in general. The purpose is to present a comprehensive cataloging and review of all employment resources of which veterans with disabilities could access in pursuit of wage and self – employment.

Do Financial Incentives Increase the Use of Electronic Health Records? Findings From an Experiment

November 14, 2013 Comments off

Do Financial Incentives Increase the Use of Electronic Health Records? Findings From an Experiment (PDF)
Source: Mathematica Policy Research

Moderate incentive payments did not lead to universal EHR adoption and use in a two-year time frame. However, the demonstration showed that incentives can influence physician use of EHRs. Although these results are encouraging for the potential effectiveness of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, they also suggest that meani ngful use of EHRs on a national scale may take longer than anticipated.

New Study: SNAP Associated with Improved Household and Child Food Security

August 27, 2013 Comments off

New Study: SNAP Associated with Improved Household and Child Food Security
Source: Mathematica Policy Research

A report released today by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is associated with improved food security. The study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, is the largest and most rigorous study to date that assesses the effect of SNAP participation on food security. SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) provides food assistance to more than 47 million low-income Americans every month in an effort to improve food security by facilitating beneficiaries’ access to enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle.

Key findings that offer new insights for policymakers include:

  • SNAP is associated with improved household food security. Food insecurity dropped after six to seven months of SNAP program participation (from 65 percent at program entry to 55 percent for the same households about six months later).
  • SNAP is associated with improved child food security. Food insecurity among children decreased by roughly one-third (from 32 percent at program entry to 22 percent after six months of program participation).
  • SNAP is associated with improved food security for households with a variety of characteristics and circumstances. SNAP was associated with improved food security for households with and without children, households with and without a disabled member, and households without an elderly member. However, SNAP was not associated with improved food security for households with an elderly member.
  • Benefit size matters. The improvement in food security associated with SNAP participation was greatest for households that receive larger benefits relative to household need.

Back to Work: Recent SSA Employment Demonstrations for People with Disabilities

July 15, 2012 Comments off

Back to Work: Recent SSA Employment Demonstrations for People with Disabilities
Source: Mathematica Policy Research

This issue brief summarizes short-term impacts from four large scale- demonstration projects by the Social Security Administration designed to increase the economic self-sufficiency of Supplemental Security Income recipients and Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries. Results from these rigorous assessments include modest improvements in employment.

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