Do Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect the Well-Being of Children?. Conclusion

The NEWWS Evaluation is one of the first random assignment evaluations of mandatory welfare-to-work programs to examine program effects on children. The analyses presented in this synthesis indicate that mandatory welfare-to-work programs targeted to adults, with no services provided directly to children, can have spillover effects on the well-being of children. An examination of two years of follow-up found that the 11 programs studied in the evaluation did not have widespread, large, or consistent effects on the children of the parents (primarily mothers) required to participate in the mandatory programs. But favorable and unfavorable child impacts were found in some of the programs. Further research is needed to determine the mechanisms through which some of the programs affected children. It is important that the parents and the children in the NEWWS Evaluation samples are being followed for a total of five years. Forthcoming analyses of five-year data will indicate whether the impacts on children observed in the first two years of follow-up persist, are magnified, or decline by the end of five years. In addition, new child impacts may emerge over time. As policymakers continue to seek to both encourage adult self-sufficiency and foster poor children's well-being, these and future findings from the NEWWS Evaluation warrant a close watch.