HDFS 8087: Children and Families in PovertyInstructor: Jean Ispa
Pick a Topic and Find Background Information
Your instructor will ask you to select a poverty-related policy or a poverty intervention program that interests you.
If you need help selecting a program, try browsing the CFDA website (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.) You might choose to search "by functional area" or "by beneficiary" in order to locate programs that are of greatest interest to you.
For background information on poverty-related policies and programs try the following two resources:
Provides extensive background information and discussion of the pros and cons of current issues of the day such as welfare reform, child poverty, Head Start
CQ Public Affairs Collection
The CQ Public Affairs Collection brings together Congressional Quarterly's current affairs publications into a single integrated reference tool. Organized into 22 main topics with hundreds of subtopics, the Collection features full-text access to descriptive articles, statistical and historical analyses, historic documents and primary source materials, as well as a directory of key government, nonprofit, and private organizations in each of the major public policy areas.
Find Journal Articles
First try the following general magazine and journal article database:
Academic Search PremierIndex to major journals and magazines in all subject areas. Many articles are full-text. Updated continually. Coverage is 1984 to date. Click on Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals to limit search results to research articles.
For more in-depth research, try searching subject specialized journal article databases. Begin at the MU Libraries' Gateway. Click on Databases and then click on the subject area, Social Sciences.
Choose the subject(s) that seem most closely related to your chosen program. For example, if you wanted to look for articles about the school lunch program, you could choose the subjects Public Policy, Education, or Economics. Select one of the databases and follow instructions on how to conduct a search. Every database has a slightly different interface, but all have help pages that contain tips and/or tutorials.
Select one of the following databases:
EconLit provides coverage of the worldwide literature on economics. Subject coverage includes accounting, domestic monetary theory, health economics, labor, quantitative economic methods, urban and regional economics, and welfare programs. Coverage is 1969 to date
ERIC provides access to the educational and related literature available in periodicals published worldwide and in the ERIC documents microfiche collection. Coverage is 1966 to date.
P.A.I.S (Public Affairs Information Service) covers the range of the social sciences, with emphasis on national and international economic, political, and public policy issues. The database provides indexing to periodical articles, books, federal, state and local documents, agency publications, yearbooks, and directories. Coverage is 1972 to date.
PsycINFO Indexes and abstracts books, journal articles and technical reports dealing with psychology. Coverage is 1887 to date.
Sociofile Indexes and abstracts journals in sociology as well as books, dissertations and sociological association papers. Coverage is 1974 to date.
Social Work Abstracts
Social Work Abstracts indexes research articles in social work and related fields. Coverage is 1977 to date.
Find the Full-text of Journal Articles
- If you're looking at results in one of the databases listed above just click on the button next to the article citation. The article will display if it's available electronically. If there is no online access, you'll be given the opportunity to look for a print copy in the MERLIN Catalog
- If you have an article reference, but are not currently in a database, go to the MU Libraries' homepage and select Find a Specific Article/Journal to enter . Once in you're given the choice to search for a specific article or journal title. If electronic coverage is not available, check the MERLIN Catalog to see if we have a print copy of the journal.
- MU Libraries does not subscribe to all journal titles. If you find a journal article that you need, but cannot find the article using , click on the option Request through Interlibrary Loan/Request a Copy. ILL@MU is the name for our interlibrary loan service. You can also request an article without using the feature by filling out an article request form which is available from the ILL@MU Logon under About the Libraries on the MU Libraries' homepage . Usually,within a few days, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to view the requested article.
Find Library Books
- From the MU Libraries' homepage, choose the MERLIN Catalog. Type in words describing the topic you are researching. Once you have a list of hits, select one that looks on-target, then examine the subject headings for that item. Try clicking on that subject heading to retrieve similar items.
- If you do not find enough books on your topic to meet your needs, change your search to quot;ALL MERLIN. quot; By doing so you will be checking the library holdings at UMSL, UMKC, MST and MU all at once.
- Still not enough? Click on the MOBIUS Catalog button. This expands your search to about 50 additional libraries in our network.
- Most books you find through the MERLIN Catalog or the MOBIUS Catalog are requestable online simply by clicking the quot;Request Item quot; link. Books requested through the MERLIN Catalog or the MOBIUS Catalog usually take about three working days to arrive.
- You may request books not listed in the MERLIN Catalog or the MOBIUS Catalog via Request Items-ILL@MU under the About the Libraries section of the MU Libraries' homepage.
Sometimes you need to support your ideas with figures and statistics. MU Libraries subscribes to one statistical database called LexisNexis Statistical. You can find it by going to our MU Libraries' Gateway, then clicking on Databases. LexisNexis Statistical includes statistics from federal and state government, and also from international and private sources.
Someday you may not have access to MU Library resources, so it's good to know about free web sources for statistical data. Try checking the government Fedstats website. You can also try a Google Unclesam search. The "Google Unclesam" search engine checks only state and federal government and US military websites. If you go to Google Unclesam and type in ("school lunch" and statistics), you could get lucky and find exactly the statistics you'd hoped to find on a government agency's web site. If not, the chances are you will at least some excellent clues about which government agency(-ies) are most involved in administering the program, or in collecting data about it. A variation on this search would be to type in ("school lunch" and missouri), in order to discover which of our state agencies are most involved in the program.
Find Government Agencies
This could be as easy as doing a Google Unclesam search on your program. Try typing in "school lunch." You'll find the first hit is the U. S. Department of Agriculture School Lunch Home Page.
If you would like to get of sense of how many federal government agencies are actually out there, and how they are organized in relation to one another, browse the United States Government Manual online or look at the paper version in the library. If you are looking for organizational charts for state agencies, the State and Local Government on the Net web site is easy to navigate. Missouri has a Guide to Missouri State Government which gives brief synopses of state departments and divisions.
Find Government Budgets
Warning: It is not always easy to find a simple dollar amount showing the amount of government spending on a particular program. Sometimes several levels of government contribute funds to a single program. When you do find tables, it might divide out the money in strange ways, tempting you perform your own calculations. Yet there is a wealth of information available on the federal and state budget websites, and you are sure to understand more about how your program is funded when you study government budget web sites. Note that budgets not only tell the plan for spending for the upcoming fiscal year, but they also give figures for actual spending in past years.
Federal budget: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2004/
Missouri budget: http://www.oa.state.mo.us/bp/execbudgets.htm
Find Government Publications
Search the MERLIN catalog for government publications All Missouri state and federal government publications received in the library since the year 2000 have been cataloged in MERLIN. If you would like to look for older federal government publications (published 1976-present), it is best to use the Marcive Web Docs library database if you want to be thorough. If you need to do historical research on a program, and prefer federal materials published before 1976, the paper index called Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications located in the Documents Reference area is your best bet.
Recent Missouri state publications are cataloged in MERLIN.
You will certainly find plenty of analysis in library books and in journal articles. There are also two government sources of analysis. The first source is U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) reports. The other is hearings held before congressional committees.
The GAO's purpose is to examine government programs and operations, and determine whether they are efficient and effective. GAO reports are catalogued in MERLIN, but you can also access reports online through the GAO website. From the GAO main page, click on "More Search Options," and then on the word "Advanced." This search screen allows you to search for keywords or phrases in the publication title or in the full text.
Hearings before congressional committees can include testimony from a variety of subject experts, organization leaders, public servants, academics, and "just plain folks" who hold differing views on a topic. They each come before the committee and present their best arguments. In addition, they may submit printed material "for the record, such as privately produced reports, articles or relevant newspaper clippings. After testifying, congresspersons might ask the witness questions. The full text testimony, the question-and-answer session, and additional materials are all printed in a "book" which is essentially the hearing transcript. These hearings are catalogued in MERLIN and available for checkout from the library, just as regular books. You can use MERLIN to find hearings, but if you would like to limit your search just to hearings, you can use LexisNexis Congressional to do that. Simply click on "CIS Index," then "Subject." Type in a keyword or phrase, or (better yet) click on the "Subject List" and find the exact term. Paste to the search. When you get the list of hits, look at the document type. Hearings will be grouped at the top of the list. If this search does not yield enough hits, you can try searching through the full text of all testimony. To do this, click on "Testimony" from LexisNexis Congressional's main search page.
There is one database that is extremely useful for public policy analysis, LexisNexis Academic. Click on "LexisNexis Academic" in the library's list of DATABASES BY NAME. Then click on "Legal Research" in the left navigation bar. Choose "Law Reviews," then click on the "Guided Search" tab. This search screen will allow you to search for keywords or phrases in the title of an article, or in the full text. Law reviews are enormously useful because they generally provide historical context for any issue, and point out the most significant (or infamous) pieces of legislation that affected a policy arena.