Do Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect the Well-Being of Children?. Clustering of Impacts in Child Outcome Area

  • For the young children in the COS sample, impacts (favorable or unfavorable) were not clustered (that is, concentrated) in a particular child outcome area.

Two programs had at least one impact on behavioral and emotional adjustment measures; three programs had at least one impact on cognitive functioning and academic achievement measures; and two programs had any impacts on health and safety measures. The 14 impacts found were about evenly split among the three child outcome areas. (See Table 7 for a summary of the COS focal child impacts.) Notably, however, the behavioral and emotional adjustment impacts were both favorable and unfavorable; all of the cognitive functioning and academic achievement impacts were favorable; and the health and safety impacts were unfavorable. There is some evidence that suggests that the diverging directions of the impacts on behavioral outcomes for these young children may reflect the fact that some of the programs affected underlying processes, such as parenting, in different ways.

  • For school-age children across all evaluation sites, impacts tended to be clustered in the behavioral adjustment area; relatively few impacts were found in the areas of school progress or health and safety.

For this group of families, eight programs had at least one impact on children's behavioral and emotional adjustment; only two programs had any impacts on either academic progress or health and safety. As was the case for the young children in the COS sample, the behavioral and emotional impacts were both favorable and unfavorable; the few impacts on academic progress were favorable; and the few impacts on health and safety (both concerning removal of a child from a mother's care) were unfavorable.