Capitol Research

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Child care is a major expense for most families across the country. Federal, state and local governments recognize the financial burden that child care places on parents, offering subsidies to those hardest hit— low-income families. This research brief is the second in a five-part series about the state of child care and its implications. In the first brief, we introduced child care as a state policy area, the demographics of families with young children, and the federal legislative landscape for improving the quality of child care and subsidizing costs.

Affordable, high-quality and accessible child care is a challenge for many American families. In a series of research briefs, CSG examines the balancing act familiar to many families in the United States—managing work and child care—and how states are working in conjunction with the federal government to improve the process for all families with young children.

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What is the backbone of the American economy today? The answer policymakers and the private sector increasingly give to that question has affected the way we think about economic development, how we fund education, how we identify what’s important in infrastructure and more—the innovation economy. But defining this term is difficult, because, by its nature, it can consist of different things in different communities and regions. More than just STEM fields, the innovation economy depends on active entrepreneurship, creativity and fresh approaches to leverage the knowledge and skills in existing markets through new technologies. An innovation economy isn’t limited to digital assets—oftentimes advanced manufacturing is included, for example. One of the biggest features of an innovation economy is a highly skilled, energetic workforce and the appropriate economic climate. With many experts suggesting that the current and future economic success of states and communities may rely on the innovation economy, state and local policymakers must understand where their community stands as they create strategic plans and choose how best to spend limited resources.

State education leaders strive to help students enter the workforce prepared to succeed—to be career ready. The term career readiness is used in education systems at the national, state and local levels to describe the skills, attributes and preparedness students need to enter the workforce.

Since 2011, eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted state policies dealing with the testing and/or operation of autonomous vehicles. Those policies and other state initiatives have enabled a variety of autonomous technology testing activities around the country. With guidance to states from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expected this month and a number of states on the verge of enacting additional legislation, 2017 could be a big year for autonomous vehicles. But legislative challenges still could lie ahead for states looking to push the envelope on this potentially transformative technology.

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