Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Director's Message

A Message from Heather Koball, Interim Director of the National Center for Children in Poverty

As interim director for the National Center for Children in Poverty, it is my honor to welcome you to our new website. For more than 30 years, the NCCP has provided high-quality research on the fundamental issues that affect the lives and futures of children and families living in poverty — including countless studies, numerous program evaluations, and a core curriculum of online tools designed to help policymakers compare data to make sound decisions. With our new look and streamlined online experience, we hope to make it even easier for advocates, practitioners, and policymakers to employ our resources and recommendations as they tackle the difficult questions surrounding policy for our most vulnerable communities.

But our online presence isn’t the only thing that’s changing about NCCP. Over the next few months, our team will be looking for more ways to put our research recommendations and expertise into the hands of the people who make decisions on issues related to child poverty, and the advocates who push for sound policies to help those in need.

However, as interim director, I can promise that certain things about NCCP will remain unchanged. NCCP will continue to support high quality research that directly informs policy making at the local, state, and federal levels. We will continue to work with advocates for low-income families and children to identify the relevant policy research questions and to ensure that our work informs ongoing policy debates at the local, state, and federal levels. And, perhaps most importantly, NCCP will continue to challenge assumptions about the nature of poverty and policy, seeking always to improve the supports targeted to low-income families and children in order to achieve large scale impact.

In other words, our fundamental place in this work and our contribution to the field of knowledge on issues related to poverty — everything that our partners, stakeholders, and visitors have come to rely on about this organization — will not change.

That means we’ll be poised to provide much-needed support in unpacking issues related to poverty in the critical years ahead. Because while it’s been almost 30 years since NCCP first began this work, many of the deepest challenges faced by America’s poorest children haven’t changed. New federal data shows that despite a slight rise in targeted spending on EITC and other tax credit programs for working families, government spending overall on our poorest children has reduced since the 1990s.  More than ever, advocates and policymakers are being pressed for unbiased resources to support their ideas, and to provide clear, empirical evidence for their recommendations.

That’s where we come in. Over the years, our research and analysis have been the catalyst for significant policy changes and programmatic wins for many low-income families with children. Our contributions in policy research have helped improve public housing, strengthened early childhood education, promoted young children's mental health, expanded medical coverage for former foster youth, and helped families take advantage of family leave. We are committed to our role as agents of change on behalf of the millions of children and families living in poverty in the United States. And speaking on behalf of my colleagues at NCCP, I can say that we are excited to help create a better informed world — one where our leaders and partners are armed with data and tools for effective action to illuminate and eliminate child poverty.

Kind regards,

Heather Koball

Heather Koball, Interim Director