Do Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect the Well-Being of Children?. Impact Differences Between Employment- and Education-Focused Programs


  • For the young children in the COS sample, as well as for families with all school-age children in the 11 programs, child impacts were not systematically different for mothers subject to employment-focused programs than for those subject to education-focused programs.

The strong experimental research design implemented in the Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside sites, comparing the effectiveness of LFA and HCD programs, permits a clear assessment of whether program approach — employment- or education-focused — explains any child impacts found. As noted earlier, among the young children in the COS sample, 6 of the 14 child impacts found were within the Atlanta LFA (employment-focused) program. The Atlanta HCD (education-focused) program produced only one child impact. (See Table 4.) However, a pattern of more focal child impacts in LFA programs than in HCD programs did not occur in Grand Rapids and Riverside, the two other sites in which the COS was nested. In fact, the child impacts found for the two Riverside programs related to an identical child health measure and were unfavorable for both the LFA and HCD programs in Riverside. Thus, for the COS sample as a whole, child impacts were not consistently favorable or unfavorable in LFA or HCD programs either. As discussed earlier, however, the situation was somewhat different when subgroups within the COS sample were examined.

Among families with all school-age children in the 11 NEWWS Evaluation programs, employment- and education-focused programs also did not produce systematically different child impacts. (See Table 6.) In the three evaluation sites (Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside) in which the research design permitted direct comparisons of these two program approaches, there were no clear differences in child impacts. Overall, for the client survey sample in the 11 programs, child impacts were not clustered in one of the two types of program, and neither type of program had consistently favorable effects while the other had consistently unfavorable effects.