Federal Policy

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal tax credit for low- and moderate income families that encourages and rewards work. The credit was created in 1975 under President Ford. Because of its remarkable ability to reduce poverty and promote family health and self-sufficiency, it has been expanded since then by President Reagan and all subsequent presidents.

Only families that earn income through work qualify for the EITC. By off setting federal income and payroll taxes these families pay, the EITC lifts over 6 million Americans (and over 70,000 Utahns)
out of poverty every year. Since its creation in 1975, the EITC has been among the most studied federal anti-poverty initiatives. Dozens of academic studies looking at recipients across the nation and over time have found enormous beneficial effects for both parents and their children.
EITC family picFor parents, the EITC’s empirically demonstrated effects include:
• increased employment
• increased earnings from work
• reduced maternal smoking
• increased retirement security in later years, especially for single mothers
For children, the EITC’s benefits include:
• improved child and maternal health
• better K-12 school achievement
• increased future earnings when these children grow up and enter the workforce
• increased intergenerational social mobility
For the entire family, the EITC’s impacts include:
• reduced poverty
• lower rates of public health insurance
• higher rates of private health insurance
A list of academic studies and their findings is available from Voices for Utah Children.

State EITCs Offset Regressive Effects of Income, Sales and Property Taxes

24-states-have-EITCTwenty-four states have created state EITCs to supplement and enhance the impact of the federal program. State EITCs work similarly to and leverage the federal EITC. States rely
heavily on taxes like sales, gas and property taxes, which hit lower-income families harder (as a share of income) than wealthier ones. State EITCs reduce the taxes paid by these
working families, allowing them to keep more of what they earn. 
Working families with children earning up to $39,000 to $52,000 (depending on marital status and the number of children) generally can qualify for a state EITC, but the largest benefits go to families with annual incomes between about $10,000 and $23,000.

An Innovative Proposal: Using a State EITC to Promote College Savings and Incent Post-Secondary Education in Utah

how-EITC-workAn innovative proposal under discussion for Utah combines two key elements proven to reduce intergenerational poverty:
• Tax credit equal to 5% of the federal EITC, which means a maximum credit of about $300
• State match up to $100 for filers who deposit their credit into the Utah Educational Savings Plan.
One study cited by the Aspen Institute documents that low- and moderate-income children with dedicated college savings as small as $1-$499 are three times more likely to attend college and four
times more likely to graduate from college than those without.2 Such a hybrid program could allow Utah to benefit from the combined effects of these two ideas that have proven so effective when applied separately.

The EITC Has Bipartisan Support


Federal EITC Facts for Utah

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit was created under President Ford and expanded under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and all subsequent presidents.
• 193,551 Utah households received the federal EITC for 2013, about 18% of tax filers.
• Utah’s EITC households include 218,500 workers and 291,000 children.
• The EITC brought about $450 million into Utah’s economy in 2013.
• Thousands of veterans and military families are helped.
• Were it not for the EITC, an additional 70,828 Utahns would fall below the poverty line, including 31,835 children.
Additional data about the EITC’s effects in Utah is available for each county, city, and legislative district at the following websites:
Access a printer-friendly version of the report:

Read other issues briefs about two-generation strategies here.

Voices for Utah Children is proud to be a part of the Aspen Institute Ascend Network. The goal of the Aspen Institute Ascend Network is to mobilize empowered two-generation organizations and leaders to influence policy and practice changes that increase economic security, educational success, social capital, and health and well-being for children, parents, and their families. Learn more at http:/ /ascend.aspeninstitute.org/network

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

childrens budget cover UtahCBReport2015

Why a “Children’s Budget”?

Children, it is often said, are Utah’s most precious resource. They represent the workforce, consumers, and leaders of tomorrow. For that reason, the investments we make in our children today have enormous economic and social implications for Utah’s future. That is why our federal, state, and local units of government pool taxpayers’ resources to establish an education system, provide for the health and other basic needs of our most vulnerable children, and intervene in children’s lives when their safety is at risk.

This report, Children’s Budget 2015, examines public investment in children from FY2008 through FY2014. It is an update of earlier reports by Voices for Utah Children published in 2009 and 2011. This report does not assess the effectiveness of these programs or gaps in services. Rather, it objectively quantifies the level of public funding for children in Utah and identifies trends over the seven-year period.

There is a strong case to be made that no one cares more about kids than Utahns. Utah has the highest fertility rate in the country and the most children as a percentage of its population, 31% vs. 24% for the nation . Utah saw the second fastest growth rate in its child population of any state from 2000 to 2010 , second only to Nevada (which grows mostly by in-migration rather than through births). Given the high priority Utahns place on children, understanding how much is spent on children by the state and for what purposes is critically important for policymakers and the general public.

Information on funding for children is important for several reasons. It can:

1. Assist policymakers in assessing whether their funding decisions reflect, in the aggregate, their priorities with respect to children.

2. Illustrate how specific programs compare with spending on children overall.

3. Aid policymakers in examining how much is spent on children for specific purposes (i.e. for early education or child welfare) or how funding for children compares to total state and federal spending in the state.

Examining how much Utah invests in children can help the state evaluate how efficiently it is enhancing the potential of our future workforce and maximizing our investment in human capital and economic development. Public investment in children in Utah should be understood as an important component of our economic development strategy that impacts the state as a whole, both in the present and the future.

In this report, Voices for Utah Children divides all state programs concerning children into seven categories, without regard to their location within the structure of state government. The seven categories are as follows, in descending order by dollar value (based on the sums of both state and federal funds):

• Education, which makes up 90% of the state-funded portion of the Children’s Budget and 77% overall counting both state and federal funds

• Health

• Food and Nutrition

• Early Childhood Education

• Child Welfare 

• Juvenile Justice

• Income Support

We then add up the expenditures in each of these areas, separating state from federal dollars, and we compare the figures over time from FY2008, the last year before the state budget began to be affected by the Great Recession, through FY2014, the most recent year for which final expenditure data was available. 

Our most important finding is the following: 

While the state economy has recovered from the Great Recession in a number of respects, state investment in children has not.  Specifically, real (inflation-adjusted) state investment in children in FY2014 remained 6% below what it had been in FY2008, at $5,424 per child in FY2014, compared to $5,746 in FY2008. 

Making up that $322 per-child gap between the FY2008 level of public investment in children and the level in FY2014 would have required an additional state expenditure in FY2014 of approximately $293 million. 

This finding that state government investment in children has not yet recovered from the recession is not the only example of how Utah still remains below its pre-recession performance, even five years after the recession ended.  For example, real median wages also remain below pre-recession levels and poverty rates have remained elevated well above where they were at the same point in previous economic expansions.  

For more information, see the complete report:

Utah Children's Budget Report 2015


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities. How can you be involved?

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex


Published in News & Blog

Antonin-ScaliaHJR7 is a resolution under consideration by the Utah Legislature that would call for a federal Constitutional Convention to consider a balanced budget amendment. It may sound like it's simply sending a message about Utah's support for dealing with the federal debt, but in fact it goes quite a bit further than that.  By calling for an unprecedented Article V constitutional convention, HJR7 would make Utah the 26th state of the 34 required to convene a federal constitutional convention, which could end up passing far-reaching changes to the U.S. Constitution on any number of issues.  Moreover, a federal balanced budget amendment would likely lead to sudden severe cuts in federal, state, and local budgets, inevitably affecting children first and foremost, particularly lower-income children.

More Information

What’s Wrong with Calling for a Constitutional Convention to Enact a Balanced Budget Amendment?

Concerns about HJR 7 Calling for a Constitutional Convention to Enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Contact Lawmakers 

Published in News & Blog
December 16, 2014

Nurse Family Partnership

Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) is a voluntary evidenced-based community health program that provides ongoing home visits (from pregnancy through age 2 of the child) from a registered nurse to low-income, first time mothers to provide the care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, be a responsible and caring parent, and to become more economically self-sufficient. A nurse visits the women approximately weekly and bi-monthly during their pregnancy and after birth, and then monthly visits during the first two years of their children’s lives. The program is a two-generation intervention and improves outcomes for both the mother and the child. NFP produces very strong outcomes for very high risk, low-income populations.

Economic analyses performed by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, the Brookings Institute and the Rand Corporation determined that NFP provides a return on investment for taxpayers of $2.37 to $5.70 (high-risk population) per $1 invested in the program.

Download the printer-friendly report:
Nurse Family Partnership

Proven Outcomes

National outcomes associated with NFP, verified through independently evaluated randomized controlled trials, include long term family improvements in health, child welfare, education and self-sufficiency. When brought to scale, NFP can achieve:

• 23% reduction in smoking during pregnancy
• 26% reduction in pregnancy-induced hypertension
• 18% reduction in first pre-term births
• 58% reduction in infant deaths
• 30% reduction in second teen births
• 37% reduction in childhood injuries treated in emergency departments up to age 2
• 30% reduction in child maltreatment
• 38% reduction in language delay of the child by age 2
• 45% reduction in crimes and arrests, ages 11-17
• 51% reduction in alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use, ages 12-15
• 15% reduction in TANF and Food Stamp payments
• 9% reduction in Medicaid costs through age 1

Locally, Salt Lake County has a small NFP program. In 2012, 10.68% of the comparable Medicaid clients had a preterm delivery, compared to 7.5% of NFP clients, a reduction in incidence of 30%. Preterm babies require expensive medical services and a 30% reduction in incidence results in significant cost savings to Medicaid. In addition, the following outcomes for the mother have been documented in Salt Lake County:

• 52.5% increase in employment of clients younger than 18 after starting the program
• 18.9% increase in employment of clients 18 and older after starting the program
• 40% decrease in maternal smoking
• 50% reduction in reported incidence of domestic violence during pregnancy

Government Cost Savings and Avoidance

The outcomes listed above produce significant cost savings in Medicaid, Criminal Justice, Child Welfare, Food Stamps and TANF. Based on national data, Medicaid is the largest recipient of cost savings per family served (55% of cost savings accrue to Medicaid).

government cost savings nurse home visiting


Nurse Family Partnership in Utah

The Office of Home Visiting in the Utah Department of Health received $1,097,713 in federal funding through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program for Fiscal Year 2013. Of that, $300,000 was allocated to Nurse Family Partnership to serve 75 families in Salt Lake County (the remaining $700,000 was allocated to Parents as Teachers (PAT) - a home-visiting school readiness program). The average cost per family per year for NFP is $4,000. In 2012 (the most recent data available), 4,867 mothers were eligible for NFP statewide. Based on this, an investment of $19,468,000 would be necessary to serve all eligible families.


Voices for Utah Children recommends an ongoing state appropriation of $2,000,000 per year for Nurse Family Partnership, to serve 500 high risk, low-income first time mother statewide. To date, 21 states have appropriated state funds for NFP and/or home visitation.

More Information


Published in News & Blog


Download and print the issue brief here:

A Two Generation Strategy: Right from the Start

This is the second in a series of issue briefs focused on two-generation strategies to reduce poverty supported by Ascend: the Aspen Institute.

The first issue brief in this series is available here:

A Two-Generation Approach to Ending Poverty in Utah

Full Text


home visiting preschoolChildren raised in poverty are likely to be poor as adults. Breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty necessitates a two-generation approach that meets the needs of vulnerable children and their parents together. Evidenced-based and effective interventions which promote a healthy pregnancy and lifestyle, effective parenting, parental education and training, self-sufficiency and early education can improve the economic prospects for the family, reduce child maltreatment and toxic stress, and improve long term educational and life outcomes for the child.

A two-generation, multi-intervention strategy for single, first-time pregnant women in poverty is being developed by Salt Lake County. The three proposed interventions are:
• Nurse Family Partnership
• Education and training for the mother, and
• Two years of high quality preschool for the child beginning at 3 years of age

This combination of interventions is intended to improve the health of the mother and baby, reduce toxic stress, improve child welfare, economic self-sufficiency and the long term life prospects of the child.


Salt Lake County, the largest in Utah with a population of 1,032,2261, is planning to expand access to the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP). According to the County, approximately 1,100-1,500 women meet the eligibility requirements for NFP. However, only 100 women are currently being served.

Nurse Family Partnership is an evidenced-based community health program that provides ongoing home visits from pregnancy through age 2 of the child by a registered nurse to low-income, first time mothers to provide the care and support that they need to have a healthy pregnancy, be a responsible and caring parent, and to become more economically self-sufficient. Outcomes associated with NFP include long-term family improvements in health, child welfare, education and self-sufficiency.

More than 35 years of evidence from randomized, controlled trials prove this maternal health program’s effectiveness guiding low-income, first-time moms and their children to successful futures. By developing strong family foundations, the Nurse Family Partnership establishes better, safer, and stronger communities for generations to come.

NFP assists clients in returning to their local high school, alternative high school (which usually offers childcare services), or obtaining a GED. They help them with their college applications and suggest ways to finance schooling either through scholarships or PELL grants. NFP also works with the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Education and Training programs. The nurses encourage their clients to utilize programs which assist financially with completion of a high school diploma, GED, or ESL. NFP encourages participants to use DWS career planning services, take advantage of DWS financial incentives for setting and achieving educational goals, as well as assistance with childcare while
completing their education.

To supplement the education and training referrals performed by NFP, Salt Lake County plans to collaborate with the public libraries to offer Career Online High School to NFP participants in order to promote higher educational attainment and economic self-sufficiency. Career Online High School offers students the opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma while learning real-world career skills. An accredited, private online school district, Career Online High School is specifically designed to re-engage adults into the education system and prepare them for entry into post-secondary education or the workforce. It is committed to preparing students for careers and post-secondary career education by delivering high-quality, supportive, and career-based online education. Career Online High School gives students the opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma and credentialed career certificate. Students graduate with the tools to take the next step in their careers or career-education.


Salt Lake County and DWS will partner to expand access to Nurse Family Partnership, as well as education, training and employment opportunities for the participants. Through the intergenerational poverty focus of DWS, eligible women in Salt Lake County and those classified as living in “intergenerational poverty” will be the target population for the expansion. Additionally, DWS is interested in using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to increase access to NFP for this population.


Currently, funding for NFP in Salt Lake County is provided by County funds, Title V-Maternal and the Child Health Block Grant, a grant from the Department of Child and Family Services through the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) federal funding, and the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

To fund the expansion of NFP, Salt Lake County is exploring a blended funding strategy utilizing County funds, federal TANF funds through the collaboration with DWS, and investor funds through an innovative strategy called “Pay-for-Success” or social impact financing.

Under a “Pay-for-Success” financing model, there is an arrangement between one or more government agencies and an external organization where the government specifies the outcomes and promises to pay the external organization a pre-agreed amount if it is able to achieve the outcomes.3 Private commercial and philanthropic investors provide the upfront capital through the external organization to expand services for proven interventions with effective track records that either achieve desired outcomes and/or reduce the cost of later services to government. Outcome measures, such as reduction in preterm births and the spacing of second births, as well as reductions in other areas such as child maltreatment and criminal justice, in the case of NFP, are established and agreed upon by the parties. If the performance measures are achieved, the County would pay back the investors with interest. However, if the outcomes are not achieved, the investors may lose all or some of their investment. Several states, including North Carolina and New York State, and local jurisdictions, such as San Francisco, are exploring the expansion of NFP through social impact financing.

Salt Lake County participated in a proof of concept Results-Based Financing contract (a local term for Pay for Success) for high quality preschool in Utah for the 2013-2014 school year. Six hundred children who were identified as economically disadvantaged were funded through a Pay-for-Success contract. Goldman Sachs Bank and J.B. Pritzker provided the upfront investment. The United Way of Salt Lake and Salt Lake County provided the funds to repay the investors based on the performance metric of reducing the number of children funded through the contract who will need special education services in k-6. The project was announced during the Clinton Global Initiative Conference in June 2013. It is the first social impact loan in the U.S. to finance preschool.


On July 30, 2014, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the Pay-For-Performance Act. The legislation is a companion bill to the Young-Delaney Social Impact Bond Act in the House of Representatives. The Pay-for-Performance Act directs resources to states and local communities to support innovative public-private partnerships to tackle social and public health challenges, while ensuring a smarter, more efficient use of tax dollars.

“The Pay-for-Performance Act gives policymakers a critical, evidence-based strategy for dealing with major societal challenges. By connecting the tools of impact investing to a ‘what works’ approach, this bill takes us one step closer to a smarter, leaner, results focused government. Senators Bennet and Hatch should be commended for providing a bi-partisan, national blueprint for cross sector investments in the outcomes our communities and country need.” Melody C. Barnes, former Director, White House Domestic Policy Council.


Although every birth is a major event and every child warrants special attention, home visiting for first time, low-income expectant mothers and their infants is especially beneficial because it provides information and support early in family formation and improves a woman’s ability to effectively parent. Combining home visitation with additional educational and improved employment opportunities leverages positive outcomes for both the mother and the child.

Additionally, implementing or expanding home visiting programs may reduce costs and increase the efficiency of care delivery for managed care organizations (MCO’s) and other health insurance providers. Evidence based home visiting programs have been shown to reduce health care costs by preventing complications in pregnancy, reducing injuries and maltreatment, enhancing maternal and child health through prevention and early detection and promoting efficient use of the health care system.

Two-generation approaches such as Nurse Family Partnership that include providing education and training for mothers are examples of strategies to meet the needs of vulnerable children and their parents.



Voices for Utah Children is proud to be a part of the Aspen Institute Ascend Network. The goal of the
Aspen Institute Ascend Network is to mobilize empowered two-generation organizations and leaders
to influence policy and practice changes that increase economic security, educational success, social
capital, and health and well-being for children, parents, and their families.
Learn more at http://ascend.aspeninstitute.org/network

















Published in News & Blog