This course surveys government programs that provide direct assistance to economically vulnerable people in the United States. These include means-tested programs targeted at low-income households (sometimes known as “welfare”), such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a/k/a food stamps); social insurance programs focused on loss of employment income to workers and their families, such as Unemployment Insurance and Social Security; and programs designed to enable and sustain access to employment, such as the Child Care and Development Fund. Consideration will be given to the relationship between these programs and tax policies (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit), labor market regulation (such as the minimum wage), and family law mechanisms (such as child support) with similar goals. Intersections with race, gender, disability, and immigration civil rights issues will receive attention throughout. The materials and approach will provide both technical and theoretical foundations for students interested in approaching the field through direct legal services, policy advocacy or administration, labor and employment law, or civil rights practice.
Evaluation will be primarily by several short non-research papers, plus class participation and exercises.