How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Child Outcomes Examined

12/01/2001

Child outcomes in three developmental domains were measured: social skills and behavior, academic functioning, and health and safety. Measures tapping both positive and problem outcomes were examined. Outcomes in the social skills and behavior domain consisted of subscales adapted from the Social Skills Ratings System, which was designed to tap "social behaviors that can affect teacher-student relations, peer acceptance, and academic performance."(4) Among the subscales are those that measure children's positive skills and behaviors (such as cooperation and self-control) as well as problem behaviors ("externalizing" behaviors such as fighting and arguing, "internalizing" behaviors such as acting sad or depressed, and hyperactive behaviors such as acting impulsively and being disruptive).

Outcomes in the academic functioning domain are particularly diverse and include (1) measures related to behavioral adjustment to school (for example, school engagement, disciplinary problems), (2) scores on a standardized assessment of focal children's math and reading skills (the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement  Revised),(5) administered by trained interviewers, (3) measures related to academic progress and placement (for example, grade repetition, performance below grade level), and (4) measures of attendance (absenteeism, tardiness).

Outcomes in the health and safety domain include a global rating of focal children's general health; the percentage of mothers rating focal children's health as very good or excellent; the percentage of mothers reporting that focal children had a physical, mental, or emotional condition that required frequent medical attention; the percentage of mothers reporting that focal children had a physical, mental, or emotional condition that impeded on their going to work or school; and the percentage of mothers reporting that focal children had an accident, injury, or poisoning requiring an emergency room visit.

An additional outcome pertains to focal children's living arrangements: the percentage of mothers reporting that focal children had lived away from them at some point since random assignment because they could not care for them. This measure is not a child outcome in the sense that it reflects directly on the developmental status or well-being of children. However, given the potential effect on children of living apart from their mother and a concern that welfare reform not contribute to this outcome, it is reported on here (under the category "other").

The accompanying chart summarizes the outcomes measured and the source of information for each outcome. Mothers reported on focal children's social skills and behavior, behavioral adjustment to school, academic progress and placement, health and safety, and living arrangements. Children reported on their positive social skills and their engagement in school. Teachers reported on focal children's social skills and behavior, behavioral adjustment to school, academic progress and placement, and attendance.(6)

Developmental Domains and Focal Child Outcomes Measured at the Five-Year Follow-Up, by Source
  Assessment Mother Child Teacher
Social Skills and Behavior
Externalizing   X   X
Internalizing   X   X
Hyperactivity   X   X
Cooperation   X X X
Positive assertion   X X X
Self-control   X X X
Empathy     X  
Responsibility   X    
Interpersonal skills       X
Positive approaches to learning       X

Academic Functioning

Behavioral adjustment to school

School engagement     X X
Suspended or expelled   X   X
Disciplinary action       X

Achievement

Math skills X      
Above-average math X      
Below-average math X      
Reading skills X      
Above-average reading X      
Below-average reading X      

Academic progress and placement

Grade repetition   X   X
Below grade level in math       X
Above grade level in math       X
Below grade level in reading       X
Above grade level in reading       X
In remedial math group       X
In remedial reading group       X
Physical, mental, or emotional condition requiring a special class or school X      
Needs and receives services*       X
Needs but does not receive services       X
Attendance        
Absent       X
Tardy       X

Health and Safety

General health rating   X    
In very good or excellent health   X    
Physical, mental, or emotional condition requiring frequent medical attention   X    
Physical, mental, or emotional condition impeding mother's work   X    
Accident, injury, or poisoning requiring an emergency room visit   X    

Other

Lived apart from mother   X    
* See Appendix J for a full description of services examined.