Skip to main content

New Research and Insights on Family Stability and Benefit Access in Philadelphia

Imagine your family is struggling, and you are trying to apply for benefits to make ends meet. The benefits application is online, but your only connection to internet is through your cell phone. You do not have a computer. The application is impossible to fill out on a mobile device. Every day, people face challenges like these while attempting to make sure their family can get through a hard time. 

Accessing public benefits is vital for families to meet their basic needs such as food and healthcare, promoting stability and well-being. Without these benefits, families may face increased financial strain, making it harder to break the cycle of poverty and achieve long-term success. 

To ensure we continue building upon the success of The Promise’s Family Stability Challenge (FSC), our team engaged the Urban Institute to commission a series of external reports that examine FSC’s existing approaches through an external lens. Our goal is to identify where improvements can be made and to examine the benefits landscape in Philadelphia. Today, we are excited to announce the next phase of research produced by the Urban Institute.  

The latest report titled, Accessing Public Benefits in Philadelphia, identifies several challenges faced by individuals seeking benefits, including difficulties understanding eligibility criteria, complex paperwork requirements, unclear communication from program administrators, challenges with online application platforms, and negative experiences at benefit offices. The report also highlights factors that support access, like multiple application options, supportive government caseworkers, and benefit navigators at community-based organizations. Another crucial aspect of the report is its spotlight on benefit seekers’ suggested improvements. 

 These include:

  1. Clearly communicating eligibility criteria and paperwork requirements
  2. Improving online application platforms for easy use
  3. Creating opportunities for community input
  4. Increasing case management capacity at benefit offices
  5. Providing targeted support for seniors
  6. Aligning eligibility with basic needs

The overarching theme of the report is the critical need for programs to adopt a holistic approach, considering an individual's entire financial situation rather than solely relying on household income, recognizing that individuals with varying incomes may face similar challenges depending on their unique circumstances. The insights collected from this report hold potential for various applications - enhancing local programs, advocating for policy reforms, fostering dialogue among benefits counselors, and serving as a reference point when seeking funding.  

For those interested in delving deeper into The Promise’s Family Stability Challenge and benefits access, the Urban Institute has made available a collection of reports accessible through United Way’s Knowledge Center. Among these reports are Which Eligible Philadelphians Are Not Accessing Public Benefits? which gives insight into groups of Philadelphians in various neighborhoods that could benefit from more benefits access outreach, andCollaborative Approaches to Benefit and Tax Credit Access" which outlines successes, challenges, and recommendations regarding our implementation of the FSC program.  

Now in its 3rd year, the Family Stability Challenge has served over 90,000 families with $104.8M in estimated benefit and tax credits going back into people’s pockets since its inception. By breaking down silos and strengthening partnerships across high-need communities, the FSC coalitions are focused on; reaching those who are eligible but not yet receiving benefits and services, providing services that stabilize families’ income and reduce expenses, investing in collaboration and referrals across organizations, and improving data-sharing infrastructure and organizations’ capacity to make data-driven decisions. 

These reports provide valuable insights, research findings, and evidence-based recommendations that will aid our partners efforts and contribute to a broader understanding of the challenges and solutions in the areas of benefit and tax credit access, as well as poverty alleviation, in the future.  

Sign-up for our mailing list

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.