Colleen Heflin

Changing patterns of take up and participation in SNAP and the role of out-of-pocket medical expenses

SNAP eligibility and participation rates have been increasing for adults 50 years and older since 2008. At the same time, SNAP participation continues to fall over the life course, with the lowest rates concentrated among individuals 85 years and above. We use longitudinal data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Survey from 2002 to 2016 to document how SNAP eligibility, participation, and take-up changed over time for older adults.

Below the tip of the iceberg: Examining early childhood participation in SNAP and TANF from birth to age six

Previous research has shown that investments during the early childhood period are likely to have the highest social return. We use administrative data from Virginia to document participation in SNAP and TANF among children born between 2007- 2010 during their early childhood period, which we define here as birth to age six. We find that participation in SNAP is about four times greater than participation in TANF and that most children begin their connection with the social welfare system in their birth year.

Childhood and adolescent food security and young adult outcomes

Exposure to stressful life experiences during childhood, such as food insecurity, can have negative consequences for attainment later in life. The developmental timing of stressful events and how they influence outcomes over the life course is a critical area of research. Indeed, a more comprehensive understanding of the latter life consequences of childhood food insecurity could guide policy-makers in designing more effective social policies to reduce the severity of the poor life outcomes.

Families with hungry children and the transition from preschool to kindergarten

This paper exploits a source of variation in the eligibility for federal nutrition programs to identify the program effects on food insecurity. Children are eligible for the WIC program until the day before they turn 61 months old. The result is an age discontinuity in program participation at the 61-month cutoff. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth-cohort dataset, we find strong evidence of a sizeable increase in household food insecurity at the 61-month cutoff.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program and food insecurity

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides cash reimbursement to family day care, child care centers, homeless shelters, and after-school programs for meals and snacks served to children. While adults and school-aged children are eligible, the large majority of funding through this program is directed towards younger children. In 2009, 3.2 million children participated (versus 112,000 adults). In this research, we estimate the direct effect of provider participation in CACFP on household and child food insecurity of all income levels.

Low income preschoolers' non-parental care experiences and household food insecurity

Rates of food insecurity in households with children have significantly increased over the past decade. The majority of children, including those at risk for food insecurity, participate in some form of non-parental child care during the preschool years. To evaluate the relationship between the two phenomenon, this study investigates the effects of child care arrangements on food insecurity in households with children.

Assessing the impact of a modernized application process on Florida's Food Stamp caseload

In 2005, Florida implemented an internet-based service delivery system for eligibility determination in public assistance programs, including the Food Stamp, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Medicaid programs. At the same time, Florida switched from a caseworker model to a technology-driven model and decreased staffing levels of employees involved in social service delivery. We conduct an evaluative case study of the effects of these policy changes on the Food Stamp caseload.

Does Food Stamp receipt mediate the relationship between food insufficiency and mental health

Although the Food Stamp Program is the largest entitlement program remaining in the social safety net, comparatively little is known about the potential benefits that the program may confer on recipients. In this paper we examine an important dimension of well being, mental health, and the extent to which participation in the Food Stamp Program may attenuate the effect of food insufficiency on levels of emotional distress.

Exit routes from welfare: Examining barriers to employment, demographic, and human capital factors

This paper investigates how barriers to employment, human capital, and demographic characteristics affect women’s exit routes off welfare. Specifically, I address two questions. First, what are the avenues through which women leave welfare? Second, are mental and physical health problems, domestic violence, and lack of access to transportation, characteristics that have been ignored in other studies of welfare dynamics, associated with different welfare exit routes?