The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2004: A Family Needs Budget
An uncertain economy and major changes in welfare and workforce development policy have given new urgency to the question of self-sufficiency. As many parents leave welfare and enter the labor market, they join a growing number of families who are unable to stretch their wages to meet the costs of basic necessities. Even though many of these families are not poor according to the official poverty measure, their incomes are inadequate. But what is adequate income—and how does this amount vary among different family types and different places? To answer that question we have a new measure of income adequacy: the Self-Sufficiency Standard.
The Self-Sufficiency Standard measures how much income is needed for a family of a given composition in a given place to adequately meet their basic needs—without public or private assistance. Below we will explain the origin of the Standard; how it differs from the official poverty standard; how it is calculated; what it looks like for Colorado families; and how various public work supports, public policies, child support and other available resources can help families move toward self-sufficiency. We conclude this report with a discussion of the varied ways that the Standard can be used as a tool for policy analysis, counseling, performance evaluation and research.
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