Do Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect the Well-Being of Children?. Spillover Effects of Welfare-to-Work Programs on Children's Behavioral and Emotional Adjustment

  • For the young children in the COS sample, program impacts on behavioral and emotional adjustment were infrequent and both favorable and unfavorable.

For focal children in the COS sample, indicators of behavioral and emotional problems included the Behavior Problems Index (BPI) and the Positive Behavior Scale/Social Competence Subscale (PBS/SCS). For each of the six COS programs, 11 outcome measures were developed from these two instruments. Two of the six programs had any impacts on focal children in this outcome area, producing a total of five impacts. (See Table 4.) Two of the five impacts were in the Grand Rapids LFA program; they were unfavorable and they related to the BPI. The three remaining impacts were in the Atlanta LFA program, and they were both favorable and unfavorable and related to the BPI and the PBS/SCS.

  • For school-age children across all the evaluation sites, 8 of the 11 programs produced at least one impact on behavioral and emotional adjustment. These effects were both favorable and unfavorable.

In the client survey sample, children's behavioral and emotional adjustment was measured by asking parents whether their children (1) had been suspended from school, (2) were receiving or requiring help for behavioral or emotional problems, or (3) were in a special class or school for such problems. Among the subgroup of families with all school-age children, for whom these measures would be directly applicable, between 22 and 35 percent (depending on the site) of the control group parents reported that at least one of their children had been suspended from school since study entry; between 16 and 45 percent (depending on the site) reported that at least one child was currently receiving or requiring help for behavioral or emotional problems; and between 6 and 17 percent (depending on the site) reported that they had a child (or children) attending a special class or school for behavioral or emotional problems. (See Table 5.) Eight of the 11 programs produced at least one impact on children in this outcome area. (See Table 6.) Three programs decreased the incidence of at least one behavioral problem, and five programs increased the frequency of at least one. Only two programs, however, had an impact on more than one of the three behavioral adjustment measures.