The Case for Building a Social Policy Centered on Families

New Report Calls for Reimagining Outdated Policies

Washington, DC - Today, New America’s Family-Centered Social Policy Initiative released its first report, calling for new frameworks to help American families navigate today’s challenges. According to the report, Strengthening Ties: The Case for Building a Social Policy Centered on Families, outdated and siloed social policies fail to help families thrive and prosper in the face of new economic, demographic, and technological changes. Policymakers must adapt and think of innovative ways to support families and help them succeed.

According to the report, “most of the social and economic policies in the U.S. do not explicitly address, or take into account, the growing importance of families as sources of human capital and determinants of individual success.” But the authors view the problems facing the family as “matters of political economy, of being wholly within the power of humans and human institutions to mold and shape.”

The challenge of framing effective social policy to meet the needs of families is further complicated by a series of enormously important megatrends. These trends are reshaping how families live together, participate in the economy, and interact with the the world around them:

  • Changing role of women —and men — in the workplace

  • Rise of single parenthood

  • Rising cost of living for families

  • Generational downward mobility

  • Decline in the number and quality of jobs

  • Decline in family business

  • Pressures of digital technologies

This initial report makes the case for rethinking social policy and explains New America’s approach to building a new family-centered policy framework. The report, available online, was written by the Family-Centered Social Policy Initiative at New America, and was made possible by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Initiative is a collaborative effort, engaging several New America policy programs - Asset Building, Breadwinning and Caregiving, Education Policy, Open Markets, and the Open Technology Institute.


The authors are available for interviews and background briefings, and will be updating their findings on twitter using the #familystrong hashtag.