Do Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect the Well-Being of Children?. Appendix A: Two-Year Child Outcome Measures

Child outcomes in the NEWWS Evaluation two-year follow-up are based on the two-year client survey and the Child Outcomes Study (COS) survey component, which was added to the client survey given to mothers with children aged 3 to 5 at baseline in three sites. Both components of the two-year follow-up included measures of children's development in three broad areas: behavioral and emotional adjustment, cognitive functioning and academic achievement, and health and safety. Some measures from each of these areas are available for all children of all parents in the two-year client survey sample in the seven evaluation sites; additional, more detailed measures in each area are available for randomly selected preschool-age children of the mothers in the COS sample (these children are identified as the "focal" children).

Measures of Behavioral and Emotional Adjustment

All Children

  • Behavioral and emotional problems questions. Parents were asked if any of their children were currently getting help for any emotional, mental, or behavioral problem and if any of them were going to a special class or school or getting special help for behavioral or emotional problems. Parents were also asked if, at any point since study entry, they had felt, or someone had suggested, that any of their children needed help for any emotional, mental, or behavioral problem.
  • Suspended or expelled from school question. Parents were asked if, since study entry, any of their children had ever been suspended, excluded, or expelled from school.

Focal Child

  • Behavior Problems Index (BPI). Parents were asked to indicate whether series of statements are not true, sometimes true, or often true of the focal child. Statements describe behavior such as: the child is high strung, tense, or nervous; the child cheats or tells lies; the child has trouble getting along with other children. Total BPI scores are examined, as well as subscale scores for externalizing behavior problems (such as arguing, bullying, breaking things, lying, and cheating) and internalizing behavior problems (such as feeling unhappy, sad, depressed, unloved, or worthless).
  • Positive Behavior Scale/Social Competence Subscale (PBS/SCS). The PBS assesses positive social behaviors, such as self-esteem, self-control, obedience, and persistence. Parents were asked to indicate whether behaviors are not true, somewhat true, or often true of the focal child. Examples of the behavioral descriptions in the subscale are: the child is helpful and cooperative; the child shows concern for other people's feelings; the child is admired and well liked by other children.

Measures of Cognitive Functioning and Academic Achievement

All Children

  • Academic problems questions. Parents were asked if, since study entry, any of their children had repeated any grade for any reason and if any of them were currently going to a special class or school or getting special help in school for learning problems.

Focal Child

  • The Bracken Basic Concept Scale/School Readiness Composite (BBCS/ SRC). The Bracken scale is a well-established and widely used measure of children's cognitive school readiness. The 61 items used in the COS consist of 5 subtests that assess children's knowledge of colors, letters, numbers and counting, comparisons, and shapes. (The full scale consists of 11 subtests.)

Measures of Health and Safety

All Children

  • Accident or injury questions. Parents were asked if, since study entry, any of their children had had an accident, injury, or poisoning requiring a visit to a hospital emergency room or clinic, and if, during the same time frame, any of their children had been removed from their care because they could not care for or handle them.

Focal Child

  • Child health rating. Parents rated the focal child's overall health in response to the following question: "Would you say that your child's health in general is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?"