Seven Student Papers Accepted to DC Policy Conference

March 21, 2019 @ 3:22 pm

The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Regional Student Conferences provide graduate students the opportunity to present original research across a wide array of policy areas and to participate on panels with their peers.

APPAM has accepted papers from seven School of Social Work students to be part of its 2019 Regional Student Conference in Washington, DC, an offshoot of APPAM’s annual and international conferences. In addition to helping build résumés, APPAM’s student conferences represent excellent career preparation opportunities, especially for graduate students who are interested in public policy.

Participating students gain valuable experience that enhances their research, communications, and networking skills in a professional space, helping them prepare for future conferences in their career beyond graduate school. This also advances APPAM’s larger mission—to improve public policy and management by fostering excellence in research, analysis, and education—by creating a pipeline of well-prepared policy professionals.

APPAM hosts regional student conferences twice each year, in DC and in rotating cities in California. This year’s DC student conference will take place March 29–30 on the campus of American University.

In addition to its annual, regional, and international conferences, APPAM also publishes the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM).

Listed below you can find the students’ names with their paper titles and topics, as well as links to their full abstracts.

Congratulations to our students!


Sarah Axtell
Lowering Pharmaceutical Drug Prices

In 1970, the Supreme Court of India included a provision in their patent law under which incrementally modified drugs do not qualify as being patent worthy. If companies cannot scientifically prove that their new drug is therapeutically more effective than a similar drug currently on the market, they do not receive a patent. Granting patents to only novel and effective drugs has led to a robust generic market complete with increased medical innovation and lower prices. Adopting such a patent policy in the U.S. would reduce market monopolies, increase market competition, and lower drug prices.


Darian Glenn Blanks, Sr.
Implementing Fentanyl Test Strips As a Method of Harm Reduction

By using fentanyl test strips, illicit opioid users have the ability to know if fentanyl is present in their drug of choice prior to use, alerting them to use less or not at all. As with all harm reduction methods, some argue that providing fentanyl test strips encourages people to continue illicit substance use. Research beginning in the 1980s has shown that other harm reduction methods have proven safe and effective in communities across the nation, extending the life expectancy of users while reducing the overall burden to communities. By giving users the option to know if fentanyl is present, and with proper education, users may reconsider usage once alerted to the presence of the substance, reducing overall accidental opioid overdoses.

Kameron Corrine Mims-Jones
Welfare Work Requirements, Work to Keep Recipients in Cycles of Poverty

This paper explores the relationship between educational attainment and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) welfare-to-work programs and ways to increase educational attainment for welfare participants, as a way to increase social mobility. Using California as the state for reform, because of the large number of participants, policy recommendations are offered that build upon and transform current welfare-to-work programs in counties throughout California.

Caitlin Frankel
Combating Food Insecurity in Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color

Urban low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately lack access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Grocery stores may be absent in urban low-income areas, and even when grocery stores are present, low-income individuals and families may not be able to afford fresh produce and lean meats. For those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the monthly allotment is often not enough to purchase adequate nutritious and nourishing foods, leaving low-income individuals and families to rely on cheap processed foods high in calories, sodium, sugar, and saturated fat. Consuming these food items can lead to obesity, which has far-reaching health and economic consequences that affect individuals, families, and society as a whole. In response, the USDA should (1) create a national standardized farmers market system that provides SNAP rebates, (2) create a concise federal grant program that provides funding for local initiatives to increase food access, and (3) expand SNAP to all online grocery services and establish delivery standards and price regulations.

Crystal Montgomery
Restructuring the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood

Foster youth typically leave or age out of the foster system between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three and are often unable to reunite with their biological families or secure permanency through other options. Many are not prepared to be self-sufficient at age eighteen or even twenty-one. Under the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program, New York City foster care agencies are contracted through the Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) to provide programming geared toward preparing youth for adulthood, facilitated by the Preparing Youth for Adulthood (PYA) department in each agency. Unfortunately, poor structure and program management exacerbate the negative outcomes faced by this population. Foster care agencies should hire a program evaluation consultant to assist in remodeling their PYA programs to monitor and track the completion and status of the six goals laid out by the ACS on a bi-annual basis. More immediately, the wording of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program must be restructured in order to hold agencies accountable to providing and continuing to receive funding for these services.

Katherine Nicole Seibel
Application and Implementation of Social Enterprise: A Mechanism for Social Systems Change and Economic Mobility

The development of social enterprise, when implemented with critical thought, can encourage economic mobility for those who have historically been marginalized by capitalism. To effectively develop meaningful social enterprise, policy must be in place to ensure that companies can uphold impactful social change goals. At this time, social enterprise policy regarding implementation and evaluation varies greatly across states. This paper examines social enterprise legislation and rates of adoption and implementation across states, as well as in Europe. Recommendations to improve social enterprise legislation in order to make the most effective social impact include aligning legislation closely with the Benefit Corporation (B Corp) Model Legislation, increasing support to incentivize development of companies that will benefit the public, implementing tax breaks that increase companies’ revenue in order to invest in self-sustaining public or employee services, and instituting subsidies to support competitive wages in order to promote successful growth of social enterprises nationwide.

Catherine Isabel West
Recommended Changes to the US Department of Agriculture SNAP Program

According to the Food Research Action Center, in 2017, 40 million people in the U.S. lived in food insecure households. Though the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been effective at addressing hunger in the poorest families, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that it reaches only 80% of eligible households. With 30% of the U.S. population living under 200% of the federal poverty level, and SNAP benefits of a maximum $1.90 per person per meal, there is still substantial unmet need. The basis for calculating benefits assumes households have much more time to prepare meals than they actually do and assumes households consume a diet far different than what is typically consumed. Research shows that the basic benefit formula for SNAP is out of date and not sufficient to ensure low-income households have enough funds for a healthy diet. Updating the benefit structure to increase SNAP benefits and account for geographic variations in food costs would help the lowest income families to eat more nutritious diets, to spend more money on other necessities, and to work towards economic stability. With more nutritious diets, studies have shown declines in inpatient Medicaid costs, inpatient hospitalizations, and emergency room visits.