Policy Briefs

Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute's policy briefs synthesize existing research and make recommendations for change. Have a topic you would like to see covered? Let us know.

Buy Now Pay Later

Buy Now Pay Later is a payment form that proliferated during the pandemic, offering consumers the option to pay one quarter of a given purchase up front and pay the rest in three installments over the course of six weeks with no interest added on. Despite being marketed as a risk-free alternative to credit access, this payment method comes with hazards of its own, particularly for low-income consumers. Lawmakers at both the state and federal level should increase regulation of this new financial product to ensure responsible and ethical lending practices. 

June 2024 | Download the PDF

Earned Income Tax Credit

The federal and state EITCs are available to most low- to moderate-income working families and individuals, and function as a wage subsidy by boosting earnings as workers increase their hours, which encourages work. These credits life millions out of poverty, but have room for improvement. Federal and state lawmakers should enact changes to both credits that (1) ensure parity between the treatment of childless workers and those with children, (2) eliminate "marriage penalties", and (3) drive higher participation. 

December 2021 | Download the PDF

Debt In Indiana

This policy brief (1) summarizes debt characteristics from a large survey conducted by the Indiana Community Action Association (INCAA); (2) provides trends in debt, delinquencies, and debt collections in Indiana; and (3) recommends policy changes that would address issues that exacerbate or create pressures of owning debt

July 2021 | Download the PDF

One Fair Wage

The tipped minimum wage in Indiana is $2.13 per hour and the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.. Wage floors like the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage are intended to ensure a minimal amount of protection to those who work in the lowest wage jobs in our economy, but these wage floors are so low that in every county, even a single adult cannot meet their basic needs without the help of public or private assistance. A solution to this is one fair wage.

October 2019 | Download the PDF

Fair Scheduling

One in four workers has an irregular work schedule. These unstable schedules can make financial security impossible to achieve, and affect workers' abilities to budget, arrange childcare, pursue postsecondary degrees or credentials, schedule transportation, and meet other family needs. Fair scheduling laws provide notice and stability.

October 2019 | Download the PDF

Affordable, Accessible Childcare

The high cost and limited availability of child care disproportionately pushes women out of the workforce. At the same time, lack of public investment means that child care workers and preschool teachers - again, disproportionately women - experience financial hardship. Greater investment is needed to create an inclusive, thriving workforce.

October 2019 | Download the PDF

Supports for Pregnant Workers

Pregnant and nursing workers should receive reasonable accommodations on the job - especially in physically demanding jobs - and paid leave to heal from childbirth and bond with their newborns.

October 2019 | Download the PDF

Equity-Focused Career Counseling

Career counselors can open doors to opportunity, but only if they are well-supported and are implementing best practices to overcome the bias and barriers that lead to occupational segregation and keep individuals from pursuing jobs or careers that are the best fit for their talents and motivations.

October 2019 | Download the PDF

Building & Repairing Credit

Credit reports & scores have far-reaching implications for Hoosiers' lives, as they not only factor into who can get loans and on what terms, but also affect insurance coverage and costs, job opportunities, and housing. Read on to see what policymakers and community leaders can do to ensure that Hoosiers have the best chance possible to build & repair credit scores.

September 2019 | Download the PDF

Access to Financial Services

Access to affordable financial services can reduce the cost of day-to-day transactions, make savings easier, and improve financial well-being. Addressing the barriers and improving consumer protections will allow more Hoosiers to achieve their financial goals.

September 2018 | Download the PDF

Debt Collection

Having a debt in collections can be devastating: it can damage credit, involve a lawsuit, and result in wage garnishment or seizure of property. It is critical that federal and state laws promote transparency, accuracy, and fairness in the collection process.

July 2018 | Download the PDF

Payday Lending

Payday loans are marketed as a short-term credit solution, but the reality is far different. The median borrower makes just under $2k per month and repeats these high-cost, 382% APR loans eight to ten times per year.

DECEMBER 2017 | Download the PDF

Central Indiana Public Transit and Self-Sufficiency

Reliable regional public transit would create savings for low-income families and expand economic opportunity.

OCTOBER 2016 | Download the PDF

SNAP Asset Limits

For Hoosiers that depend on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the program's asset limits disincentivize savings, which is a critical step toward self-sufficiency.

NOVEMBER 2015 | Download the PDF

Supportive Services for Indiana's Adult Learners

Without supportive services, barriers like family obligations, child care, transportation, and misaligned school and work schedules will continue to stand in the way of Indiana's education completion and workforce development goals.

MARCH 2015 | Download the PDF

Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)

When a $.50 increase in hourly wages leads to a complete loss of benefits, families are disincentivized from accepting hard-earned increases in pay.

NOVEMBER 2013 | Download the PDF

SNAP and TANF Asset Limits

Eligibility requirements for both the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) set limits on both income and countable resources (assets). For a number of compelling reasons, many states have eliminated the "asset test" - but Indiana is not yet among them.

NOVEMBER 2013 | Download the PDFs on SNAP Asset Limits and TANF Asset Limits