USC logo

CSI & Imagine LA De-mystify the Social Safety Net for Working Families

Published by USC Bedrosian Center on

Today, USC Senior Olivia Olson, speaks with USC Price Center for Social Innovation and Imagine LA to understand a partnership study that examined the complex social safety network for low-income working families to identify stagnation points.

The study looked at the total resources families have available and identified the threshold points where the safety net may actually become a barrier towards economic independence — a benefits cliff, where an increase in earnings leaves a family worse off, or a resource plateau, where such an increase leaves a family no better off in terms of the total resources available to them (income and benefits).

Most families receiving social benefits will experience lengthy resource plateaus, where an increase in earned income is met with the equivalent loss of some benefit. However, the ecosystem of social benefits is challenging to navigate and protects mainly families with extremely low incomes by providing childcare and housing benefits.

This partnership also created a tool for families to use to help with the complexities of the myriad benefits available to them, how these benefits overlap. Learn about the policy recommendations and demystify the complex social safety for low-income working families.

Watch the full version here:


Olivia Olson

USC Dornsife Senior, Philosophy, Politics, and Law

Soledad De Gregorio

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Price Center for Social Innovation

Gary Painter

Chair of the Department of Public Policy
Director of the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation
Director, Homelessness Policy Research Institute

Jill Govan Bauman

President & CEO, Imagine LA

Brit Moore Gilmore

Director Of Business Development at Aneuvia
Social Enterprise & Small Business Consultant

Leilani Reed

Imagine LA Program Graduate and Ambassador

Thank you to our co-producers Aubrey Hicks and
Jonathan Schwartz as well as our beloved sound supervisors, The Brothers Hedden.
Recorded at the USC Price School.

Email us at [email protected].

Bedrosian Center