The Perspectives on Families in America Survey explores the views of U.S. adults toward families with young children and their needs. It also identifies differences in public views about the deservingness of families with low income, the importance of systemic-level causes for the lack of social resources, and the role of government in addressing problems that families with young children face.
A typology was created to discover the pattern of values and beliefs related to addressing those resource problems—low incomes, lack of access to affordable and healthy food, and lack of access to child care and preschool programs.
The survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Survey data were collected in 2021 from a general population sample of U.S. adults age 18 and older with oversamples of parents of children ages 0–5 years old, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and American Indian/Alaska Natives from the NORC probability-based panel, AmeriSpeak. In total, NORC collected 6,207 responses.
Overview of the Typology
Using the results from the survey, the researchers created a typology or classification of U.S. adults based on their values and beliefs: three supportive of increased societal efforts to promote children’s and family health and three more skeptical. The three supportive groups represent 60 percent of U.S. adults. The more skeptical groups represent 40 percent.
The Systems Change Advocates group, which makes up 19 percent of the survey sample, is most supportive of societal efforts to promote child and family health. The group is completely aligned on all issues that are pro-child and family including in the view that the major causes of income, healthy food, child care, and preschool access problems are systemic in nature and not due to factors the families have control over. The group believes that society—specifically the government—has a role to play in addressing these problems. It tends to be more civically engaged on children’s and family issues.
The Systems Change Supporters group, which makes up 22 percent of the survey sample, is also very supportive of child and family health promotion efforts. It is less likely than Systems Change Advocates to believe the issue should be a top federal government priority and that the child care/preschool access problem has a major impact on children. Its views about societal responsibility for the problems facing families with young children resemble those of U.S. adults generally but it is less likely to see a role for government. It is less civically engaged on children’s and family issues.
The Concerned Realists group, which makes up 19 percent of the survey sample, is supportive overall but embraces both systemic and family-level causes and solutions when considering how to address the problems facing families with young children. It is more likely to question the deservingness of families with low income. While it sees a role for society to play, it has mixed views about government involvement. Concerned Realists resemble U.S. adults generally in their degree of civic engagement on children’s and family issues.
The On the Sidelines group, which makes up 11 percent of the survey sample, is skeptical about child and family health promotional efforts. Interestingly, it also tends to reject both systemic and family-level causes and solutions when considering the problems faced by families with young children. The group is more likely to see a role for society in addressing the problems but wants the private sector, not the government, to take on the responsibility. The group is less likely to be civically engaged on child and family issues.
The Status Quo Accepters group, which makes up 16 percent of the survey sample, is skeptical across-the-board about child and family health promotional efforts. Status Quo Accepters are less likely to see them as important and more likely to embrace family-level causes and solutions for the problems faced by families with young children. This group is more likely to question whether families with low income deserve government help and is the least likely to be civically engaged on child and family issues.
The Status Quo Defenders group, which makes up 13 percent of the survey sample, is the most skeptical of the groups. While similar to Status Quo Accepters, the main difference is one of degree—there is more unanimity on the issues within this group. Status Quo Defenders are the least likely of the groups to see child health and development as an important issue for the nation. This group is more likely to see family-level causes and embrace family-level solutions for problems rather than those at a systems level. Status Quo Defenders are more likely to question whether families with low income deserve government help.
Perspective on Families in America Interactive Typology
An intractive tool to effectively communicate with different groups about health equity and children and families issues.