Building Bridges to Self-Sufficiency: Improving Services for Low-Income Working Families

Jennifer Miller


In 2001, MDRC and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices began an extensive examination of potential solutions and identified innovative programs under way in states and localities across the country. The culmination of these explorations is this report, which discusses the importance of serving the low-income working population and highlights many promising practices that take two broad approaches: (1) efforts that aim to increase job stability and career advancement and (2) initiatives that improve access to the range of work supports such as food stamps, subsidized health care and child care, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, many of which were expanded in the 1990s. To further the delivery of services to low-wage workers, states can adjust their welfare reform, workforce development, and higher education policies to better target these individuals. They can also fund programs and demonstrations that serve this population. Moreover, states can offer tax incentives to private employers who increase the availability of work supports such as child care or health insurance. Although current fiscal constraints may make it difficult for states to expand existing programs or develop new ones, budgetary pressures can be the catalyst to improve coordination of services, blend funding across systems, and deliver services efficiently.

Go to Study