Plenary: Child Well-Being, Poverty, and Family Policy Across the Life Course: Lessons From High-Income Countries

Plenary Session

This session will be live streamed

Dominic Richardson, Ph.D., Senior Education Specialist, UNICEF, Office of Research-Innocenti

Facilitator: Bahira Sherif Trask, 2018 NCFR Program Chair

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10:00 AM
11:45 AM
Golden Pacific Ballroom
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Sponsored by University of Georgia Human Development and Family Science

Pre-Address Agenda:

  • Welcome: Bahira Sherif Trask, Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2018 NCFR Program Chair
  • Welcome from the Plenary Sponsor, University of Georgia Human Development and Family Science: Emilie Smith, Ph.D

Presentation of Awards:

  • Jessie Bernard Outstanding Research Proposal from a Feminist Perspective to Natasha A. Cox, M.A., Virginia Tech (April Few-Demo will accept the Award for Natasha); Presenter: Megan L. Haselschwerdt, Feminism and Family Studies Section Chair-Elect
  • Jessie Bernard Outstanding Contribution to Feminist Scholarship Award to Kimberly A. Crossman, Ph.D., California State University, Monterey Bay; Presenter: Megan L. Haselschwerdt, Feminism and Family Studies Section Chair-Elect
  • Ernest W. Burgess Award to Maureen A. Perry-Jenkins, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Presenter: Amy Rauer, Research and Theory Section Chair-Elect
  • Jan Trost Award to Dominic Richardson, Ph.D., UNICEF, Office of Research-Innocenti; Presenter: Grace Chung, International Section Chair-Elect and Jan Trost Award Committee Chair

Plenary Presentation:

Dominic Richardson, Ph.D., Senior Education Specialist, UNICEF, Office of Research-Innocenti

  • Session Facilitator: Bahira Sherif Trask, Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2018 Conference Program Chair

Live captioning at this session sponsored by Florida State University

Dominic Richardson, Ph.D.

As comparative studies of family and child well-being high-income countries have expanded their focus beyond poverty to issues of children’s development and wellbeing (e.g. education, health, relationships, risk behaviors and so on), comparative research on the effects of family policy has followed suit. In policy terms, this has contributed to increased expectation on a limited number of family and child policies to achieve multiple social goals. And yet, as high-income countries ask more of their family policies, this demand comes at a time of increasingly-polarized welfare discourse, public budget constraints, and an ‘evaluation culture’ of both policies and people, which all constitute challenges to undertaking effective family policy reform, or expanding or optimizing existing policies.

In this context, this presentation seeks to complement a growing evidence base on ‘what works?’ at the individual policy level, with evidence on the design and management of effective and efficient family policy portfolios to meet multiple child and family goals (for example parental employment, family income poverty, and multiple child well-being and development outcomes). The presentation will draw from the author’s recent cross-national studies of child well-being measurement, analysis of family policy portfolios, and approaches to integrating social services, with reflections on the main data and methodological challenges from each study. Specially, by examining how variations and changes in family policy packages across high-income countries (expenditure levels and policy design) influence family and child outcomes, alongside evidence of associations between child well-being outcomes across the child life course, some key lessons for the design, management, and age-related evolution of family policy portfolios will be proposed.


  1. To examine and assess the effectiveness and efficiency of family policy portfolios in high income settings for child well-being and poverty outcomes.
  2. To examine international, across the life course, of child well-being outcomes to inform the design of family policy portfolios.
  3. To interpret what these studies mean for lesson for family policy reform in high-income countries, including in the United States.

About the Presenter

Dominic Richardson, Ph.D., is a Senior Education Specialist at UNICEF, Office of Research-Innocenti where he leads research on issues of equity in education and the relationships between schooling, school outcomes and child well-being.Dr. Richardson previously worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Social Policy Division on child well-being, evaluation of family policies, and studies of extreme poverty and vulnerability. Dr. Richardson has led or coauthored several reports on comparative child and family well-being, including How’s Life for Children? in the OECD’s How’s Life?, Doing Better for Children, and Doing Better for Families publications, as well as UNICEF Innocenti Report Cards 7, 9, and 14.  In 2014, Dominic was the lead researcher on a joint EC OECD project evaluating the content and quality of international surveys of school children in high and middle income countries. Dr. Richardson is the coordinator of a global project on family policies and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the author of a synthesis report of key findings that was published in May 2018.

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