Safety Net Policies and Health

Safety net programs, like food assistance and paid family leave, provide support for low- and middle-income families. Our research examines whether receipt of these supports can improve health for children and adults.


Effects of WIC on Health

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutritional support for low-income pregnant and postpartum women and young children. The program was revised in 2009 to better align with current nutritional guidelines. Research at the SPHERE Center examines the impact of the program and its revisions on areas such as maternal nutrition, birth outcomes, and child health.

Funding: NHLBI K08; UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; CDC Grant U18DP006526-01-01; UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative.

Recent Publications:

Effects of Paid Family Leave on Health

The U.S. is the only high-income country without a national paid family leave policy, although a handful of U.S. states have implemented paid leave policies in recent years. Our research examines the impact of these state policies on parental and child health.

Funding: NHLBI K08; UCSF Hellman Fellows Fund; UCSF Irene Perstein Award; UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health.

Recent Publications:

Take-Up of Safety Net Policies

Numerous safety net policies have been shown to reduce financial hardship and improve the health of economically disadvantaged families. But barriers remain that limit the ability of eligible people to participate in programs for which they qualify. Our research examines the determinants of take-up of these programs, and possible ways to increase participation.

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; National Center for Advancing Translational SciencesNational Institutes of Health, through UCSF-CTSI grant (UL1 TR001872).

Recent Publications: