Tax Policy Center



Julia B. Isaacs

Senior Fellow

My work focuses on children, particularly those from low-income families, and ways that families and governments can work together to improve children's well-being and their opportunities for success later in life.


Julia Isaacs, a senior fellow in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute, is an expert in child and family policy with wide-ranging knowledge of government programs and budgets. She leads Urban’s Kids’ Share analyses of public spending on children; directs research studies on Head Start and child care; and is evaluating state efforts to modernize families’ access to nutrition assistance, child care, and Medicaid.

Isaacs spent half her career in government: as a budget analyst at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and a senior civil servant at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While at the CBO, she was responsible for estimating the costs of legislation affecting food stamps, child nutrition, child care, and child welfare programs. At HHS, she directed a team of data analysts in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, providing senior officials with analyses of legislative and budgetary proposals related to welfare reform, child care, and other human services policies. Since her days at the CBO, she has retained her interest in cost estimation and nonpartisan analysis.

Before joining Urban, Isaacs was a Brookings Institution fellow, coauthoring the Pew-funded study, Gaining or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America, and studying the school readiness of poor children and the effects of the recession on children. She has also conducted research at the American Institutes for Research and the Institute for Research on Poverty.

Isaacs has an MPP from the University of California, Berkeley.