Making Work Supports Work

The goal of the Making Work Supports Work project is to help policymakers create a work support system that enables all full-time workers to provide for their families and ensures that earning more always improves a family’s financial bottom line.

Low wages mean that millions of parents work full-time, year-round and yet struggle to provide even minimum day-to-day necessities for their families. Government “work supports”—such as earned income tax credits, child care subsidies, health insurance, food stamps, and housing assistance—can help. These benefits encourage, support, and reward work, helping families close the gap between low wages and basic expenses.

In practice, however, few families receive all of the benefits for which they are eligible, and even multiple supports are often not enough to enable working families to make ends meet. Moreover, work supports are typically means-tested, and families tend to lose benefits before they can get by on earnings alone. In some cases, small increases in earnings can trigger sharp reductions in benefits, leaving families no better off—or even worse off—than before. In short, working more doesn’t always pay.

Through Making Work Supports Work, NCCP explores these policy challenges and works with state partners to identify state-specific solutions as well as federal reforms. Our work draws on results from two innovative web-based tools: the Basic Needs Budget Calculator and the Family Resource Simulator. The Budget Calculator shows how much families need to cover a basic budget without the help of work supports. The Simulator shows how work support policies can affect families’ ability to make ends meet, by modeling both existing policies and potential policy reforms. Recent work surrounding this area can be found on the Family Resource Simulator webpage.

In the States
Project Publications
Project Staff
  • Heather Koball, PhD, Director, Family Economic Security
  • Yang Jiang, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Demography
  • Seth Hartig, MA, Research Analyst
  • Suma Setty, MPH, Research Associate

Heather Koball
215 West 125 Street
New York, NY 10027
T: 646-284-9636



Colorado Center for Law and Policy

789 Sherman St., Suite 300
Denver, CO 80203


Connecticut Association for Human Services

110 Bartholomew Avenue, Suite 4030
Hartford, CT 030106-2201

Connecticut Voices for Children

33 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06510

53 Oak Street, Suite 15
Hartford, CT 06106


KIDS COUNT in Delaware

298K Graham Hall
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716-7350

District of Columbia

DC Fiscal Policy Institute

802 First Street NE, Suite 750
Washington, DC 20002

Center for Law and Social Policy

1015 15th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20005


Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

50 W. Washington Street, Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60602

Voices for Illinois Children

208 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1490
Chicago, IL 60604-1120


Indiana Institute for Working Families

1845 West 18th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202


Iowa Fiscal Partnership

The Iowa Policy Project
120 N Dubuque St. #208
Iowa City, IA 52245

Child & Family Policy Center
1021 Fleming Building, 218 Sixth Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309


Louisiana Department of Social Services

627 N. Fourth Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
P.O. Box 42730
Lafayette, LA 70504


Michigan League for Human Services

1115 South Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 202
Lansing, MI 48912


Rural Dynamics Incorporated

Northern Plains Initiative
2022 Central Avenue
Great Falls, MT 59401

New Jersey

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

35 Halsey Street, 2nd Floor
Newark, NJ 07102

Center for Women and Work

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Janice H. Levin Building, Suite 226
94 Rockafeller Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8075

Community Service Society

633 Third Ave, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10017

New Jersey Citzen Action

744 Broad Street, Suite 2080
Newark, NJ 07102

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network

35 Halsey Street, 4th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102

New Jersey Policy Perspective

137 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618

New Mexico

New Mexico Voices for Children

2340 Alamo S.E., Suite 120
Albuquerque, NM 87106

New York

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy

150 State Street, 4th Floor
Albany, NY 12207


Policy Matters Ohio

3631 Perkins Avenue, Suite 4C East
Cleveland, OH 44114


Center for Public Policy Priorities

900 Lydia Street
Austin, TX 78702


Vermont Department for Children and Families

103 South Main Street, 2nd Floor, 5 North
Waterbury, VT 05671-5920


Washington Kids Count

Human Services Policy Center
University of Washington, Box 354804
1107 NE 45th Street, Suite 205
Seattle, WA 98105

Washington State Budget & Policy Center

1402 Third Avenue, Suite 1215
Seattle, WA 98101