Spring 2018 - 60716 - PA 388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Solutions for America's Children in Poverty: a Practicum

Over 16 million children in the United States grow up poor, which means one out of every five kids in America faces increased risk of worse health, education, and future economic outcomes. While many US policies, social enterprises, and nonprofit organizations aim to improve life trajectories for vulnerable youths, some are more effective than others. This course explores pro-child interventions with experiences inside and outside the classroom before giving students the opportunity to take their own shot at improving outcomes for children in-need.

This course, which aims to prepare effective social entrepreneurs and advocates, answers three fundamental questions about disparities among America’s children:

What do experts say? (6 sessions) Alongside guest lectures, debates, and panels with subject expertise, students will investigate five major topics (Income, Housing, Food, Environment, and Race) impacting children’s health and wellbeing. In each category, we will study the evidence on inequalities, debate US government programs and policies, and explore examples of relevant social enterprises and nonprofits.
What do children (and their families) say? Each student will spend at least one half-day outside regular class time with Dr. Mike in his clinic or with his “Street Pediatrics” Team—a multidisciplinary, mobile health unit finding and caring for Austin’s hardest-to-reach, and often homeless or gang-affiliated, youth. We’ll travel into the streets, shelters, jails, parks, schools, and public housing where vulnerable children live, learn, and play. Through this experience, students will see US social policies and poverty up-close by meeting and asking questions to the people most affected by both resource insecurities and the programs addressing them.
What do you say do? (9 sessions) Applying lessons from both the classroom and community, students will practice design thinking (Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, & Test) in interdisciplinary teams alongside community partner organizations to develop and pitch plans for products, services, or movements aimed at improving life trajectories for America’s children in poverty.