Panel Paper: Families with Hungry Children and the Transition From Preschool to Kindergarten

Thursday, November 8, 2012 : 1:35 PM
Pratt A (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Irma Arteaga, Colleen Heflin and Sara Gable, University of Missouri

The federal food and nutrition program consists of an array of programs that households may participate in based on the age of their children, household income, and where the child attends school or day-care. As a result, different households with similar income levels and numbers of children may receive substantially different bundles of food assistance. While variation may occur across the entire childhood period, there is a significant transition in the types of food and nutrition programs for which children qualify as they enter kindergarten. We explore how the bundle of services that households receive affects household and child food security levels. Specifically, we will answer the following research questions:

(1)  What impact does participation in Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) have on child and household food insecurity?

(2)  As children enter kindergarten, how does the transition in nutritional programs impact child and household food insecurity?

Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Birth Cohort, we will employ instrumental variables, regression discontinuity and propensity score matching to identify the impact of program participation and program transition on child and household food insecurity.

Results from this study will inform policy-makers in understanding the contribution of the CACFP program to food security, the relative strength of the food and nutrition bundle available to low-income families over childhood, and the impact of the transition from preschool to kindergarten on child and household security. Our analyses uses the most appropriate datasets available to provide a comprehensive picture of how participation in food and nutrition programs shapes the contours of food security at the child and household level over the course of childhood.