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Heflin and Rothbart receive grant to study SNAP and school readiness

October 2, 2018

Colleen Heflin

Colleen Heflin

Michah Rothbart

Michah W. Rothbart

Colleen Heflin and Michah Rothbart, professor and assistant professor, respectively, of public administration and international affairs, have received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to research the relationship between student participation in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and school readiness.

The research project, “SNAP Uptake and School Readiness in Virginia,” will draw from Virginia state administrative data from 2007 through 2012 to match households with young children that received SNAP, Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits with test-takers on the Virginia school readiness exam. The researchers will then utilize advanced econometric techniques to evaluate the relationship between participation in SNAP and school readiness. In support of this project, the researchers will also examine the various factors that may affect whether or not eligible households choose to participate in SNAP. The results will help the USDA understand both the effectiveness and efficiency of the SNAP program.

Heflin and Rothbart serve as the co-principal investigators for the project, with Laura Tiehen, Michael D. Smith, and Michele Ver Ploeg, serving as co-investigators from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). The project is sponsored by Syracuse University and supported through USDA ERS.

Heflin conducts policy-relevant research at the boundaries of sociology, economics, public health, public administration, and women’s studies. Her research aims to understand the processes that create systems and patterns of social stratification. More specifically, she examines welfare policy and the well-being of vulnerable populations.

Rothbart researches public finance and financial management, particularly in the field of education policy. His current research includes studying the impact of school choice on school budgets, the effect of school finance reforms on district funding, the consequences of food safety compliance grades in New York City, and the impact of universal free meals on student outcomes.

In addition, both Heflin and Rothbart serve as senior research associates at Maxwell’s Center for Policy Research


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