KU News: Access to state food assistance programs curbs child maltreatment, study finds

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Access to state food assistance programs curbs child maltreatment, study finds
LAWRENCE — A new study co-written by University of Kansas researchers titled “Association Between State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Policies, Child Protective Services Involvement, and Foster Care in the US, 2004-2016” found that states with more generous SNAP policies had fewer children involved in child protective services (CPS) and sent to foster care. The research appears in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Professor’s peers pick pandemic pieces among year’s best
LAWRENCE — Inspired by efforts to communicate despite the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, a University of Kansas professor of illustration & animation created a group of paintings titled “Interrupted” that have and will be featured in three renowned arts publications in 2022. Barry Fitzgerald’s work also can be seen through July 29 at Studios Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Jon Niccum, KU News Service, 785-864-7633, [email protected]
Access to state food assistance programs curbs child maltreatment, study finds
LAWRENCE — The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps offset the costs for families who face food insecurity. It’s one of the most frequently accessed public programs, aiding more than 43 million people each month. But SNAP also provides an unanticipated benefit: preventing child maltreatment.
“The social safety net matters,” said Donna Ginther, Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Kansas. “And having access to the social safety net has an effect on child abuse.”
Her new study, titled “Association Between State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Policies, Child Protective Services Involvement, and Foster Care in the US, 2004-2016,” found that states with more generous SNAP policies had fewer children involved in child protective services (CPS) and sent to foster care. It appears in the journal JAMA Network Open.
“We’ve seen a doubling of child poverty between 2000 and 2016 here in Kansas and the United States. It started coming down a little bit but went back up during the pandemic. With so many children in low-income households, poverty is what typically gets people more engaged with child protective services,” she said.
Co-written with KU’s Patricia Oslund, Lindsay Jorgenson and Patricia Sattler, Michelle Johnson-Motoyama (formerly of KU), Rebecca Phillips, Oliver Beer and Starr Davis of Ohio State University and Yoonzie Chung of University of Maryland, this study included data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It was funded by a 2016 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“People don’t fully understand that there is such a high amount of food insecurity,” Ginther said. “It’s exacerbated by the fact that states often tax food. If a state reduces or eliminates the food sales tax, it reduces food insecurity. Giving access to SNAP also reduces food insecurity. Low-income families are living at the margin, so each dollar counts in terms of whether or not they’re well fed and having all their basic needs met.”
Ginther’s research found that an increase in access to SNAP benefits (which replaced the Food Stamp Program in 2008) may reduce CPS and foster care caseloads between 8 to 14%. In Kansas, for example, that equates to around 360 fewer children per year relying on foster care.
But despite these benefits, party politics often get in the way of policies.
“There are some people who believe that any subsidy creates dependence,” Ginther said.
She noted how most individuals in society get subsidized in various ways. The mortgage interest deduction is a huge subsidy to the middle class. Wealthy people earn corporate tax breaks that are essentially large government subsidies.
Even when low-income benefits are put in place, the process to collect them is often complex and convoluted, Ginther said.
“Before Governor Kelly came into office, the Kansas application for SNAP benefits was 21 pages long,” she said. “And that’s just an administrative barrier. Other barriers include counting child support as income. As I said, each dollar of additional income matters greatly to these households.”
Some of these barriers can be traced to the Farm Bill of 1996, which granted states more discretion over controlling access to food benefits. (Although the federal government funds such programs, states administer who can receive them.) Some states embraced the change to make it easier for families to receive SNAP, while others made the process more difficult.
“We used the changes in those state policies to look at the effect of more generous access versus less generous access,” she said. “In some states, if a household has more than one vehicle, the value of the second vehicle may disqualify them from receiving SNAP benefits. But certain states recognize that you might need two cars to get to work and do not count them as assets. When states are more generous in how they count assets and income, then we see there are fewer reports, fewer victims and fewer children in foster care.”
Now approaching her 20th year at KU, Ginther specializes in labor economics. She is also the director of the Institute for Policy & Social Research, an interdisciplinary campus center for faculty and students doing funded work in the social and behavioral sciences.
Interestingly, Ginther’s own father was a foster child who spent nine years in the system.
“Previous researchers have shown that if you give people a social safety net when they’re children, then in the long run, those kids do better,” Ginther said. “They get more education and are more likely to work and be productive members of society. So you can think of the SNAP program as an investment in the future.”
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Contact: Rick Hellman, KU News Service, 785-864-8852, [email protected], @RickHellman
Professor’s peers pick pandemic pieces among year’s best
LAWRENCE — Barry Fitzgerald, who is closing in on 30 years as a professor of illustration and animation in the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design, counsels patience to students eager to make their mark in Hollywood or any other high-level artistic endeavor.
Lately, he’s been modeling it, too.
This spring, he hit a long-sought trifecta of sorts.
Inspired by efforts to communicate despite the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, he created a group of paintings titled “Interrupted” that he showed in January at the 30 South Gallery in Pasadena, California.
That began a sort of log-rolling process.
Some of the paintings were chosen by jurors for inclusion in Communication Arts magazine’s special edition, Illustration Annual 63. Works by the winners were featured in the May/June edition of CA, as it’s known.

Shortly thereafter, Fitzgerald learned some of the same works had also been chosen for inclusion in the forthcoming American Illustration 41, another collection of the year’s best work in the field.

And finally, the work will be included in 3X3 magazine’s Annual No. 19. The magazine will publish an online gallery of the winners’ work this fall and a physical companion piece in December.
While he called them “some of the big guns of illustration competitions,” Fitzgerald said he was particularly pleased to be included in CA 63. “I’ve been chasing it my whole career, and finally I can check that box,” he said.
A couple of the pieces from the same group of affecting works are up now through July 29 in the main gallery at Studios Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri. The show’s opening was timed to coincide with the June 29-July 1 ICON11 Illustration Conference held in Kansas City.
With the benefit of his long tenure, which includes reviewing program applications from high school students, Fitzgerald said he can see that interest in illustration remains strong.
“I think it’s just the increased amount of and access to visuals that are not photo-based,” Fitzgerald said. “You’ve got video games; you’ve got animation in every way, shape and form. When I was a kid, cartoons were limited to Saturday mornings, and now there are networks dedicated to cartoons, and other networks dedicated to cartoons for adults.
“And so there’s just more demand, and I think it’s because there’s more influence.”
Fitzgerald likes to work in a variety of media, including acrylic paints and colored pens and pencils, often within the same illustration, as in “Interrupted.” He said he concentrates on teaching technique, and style (“the S word,” he said) will follow.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “It’ll take care of itself. You almost can’t stop it from coming out, because you’re the one that’s making it.”
Keep working away at your craft, Fitzgerald said he tells students, even if you don’t get your dream job at Pixar straight out of school.
“I always tell students to shoot for the stars, you know? Go big! But if you don’t get it — and the reality is, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t — that doesn’t mean you should give up on that dream. It just means you’ve got to keep trying and then make the most of the opportunities that cross your path as you’re working toward a goal.”
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