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Self Sufficiency Standard

The Standard in Practice

The Self-Sufficiency Standard is currently being used to better understand issues of income adequacy, to create and analyze policy, and to help individuals striving to meet their basic needs. Community organizations, academic researchers, policy institutes, legal advocates, training providers, community action agencies, and state and local officials, among others are using the Standard. Below are a few ways in which the Standard is used:

 Policy Analysis 

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used as a tool to evaluate the impact of current and proposed policy changes. The Standard can be used to evaluate the impact of a variety of work supports (such as SNAP/Food Stamp Program or Medicaid) or policy options (such as changes in child care co-payments, tax reform, or tax credits) on family budgets. Read more about the Standard as a tool for policy analysis.

 Counseling Tool

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used as a counseling tool to help participants in work and training programs access benefits and develop strategies to become self-sufficient. Counseling tools allow users to evaluate possible wages, then compare information on available programs and work supports to their own costs and needs. Clients are empowered with information and tools that allow them to develop and test out their own strategies for achieving self-sufficient incomes. Read more about the Standard as a counseling tool.

 Evaluation Tool

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used to evaluate economic development proposals and outcomes for clients and grantees. Using the Standard can help determine whether businesses seeking tax breaks or other government subsidies will create jobs that pay “living wages.” By evaluating wages and outcomes in terms of the Standard, programs are using a measure of true effectiveness. Such evaluations can help redirect resources to approaches that result in improved outcomes for participants and more efficient use of limited foundation and government funding. Read more about the Standard as an evaluation tool.

 Benchmark for Wage Setting

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used as a guideline for wage setting. By determining the wages necessary to meet basic needs, the Standard provides  information for setting wage standards. Read more about the Standard as a tool to raise wages.

 Targeted Allocation of Resources

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used to target job training resources and helps demonstrate the pay off for investing in education and training. Using a targeted jobs strategy, the Standard helps to match job seekers with employment that pays Self-Sufficiency Wages. Through analysis it is possible to determine the jobs and sectors on which to target training and education resources, including training for occupations that are nontraditional for women and people of color. Read more about the Standard as a tool to target resources.

 Support Research

Because the Self-Sufficiency Standard provides an accurate and specific measure of income adequacy, it is frequently used in research. The Standard provides a means of estimating how poverty differs from place to place and among different family types. The Standard also provides a means to measure the adequacy of various work supports, such as child support or child care assistance, given a family’s income, place of residence, and composition. Read more about the Standard in research.

 Community Indicator

Community indicators and scorecards help communities to examine the well-being of residents. The Self-Sufficiency Standard provides communities with an indicator of the cost of living at a basic needs level and, in some communities, we have measured how many households are living below the Standard. These are also excellent educational tools for the public and government officials. Read more about the Standard as a community indicator.

For more ideas on how to use the Standard, see the following reports by our partners: