How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Contents of This Report


This report builds and expands on the two-year findings. Chapter 2 and 3 give important background information about the NEWWS Evaluation and its participants and their activities. Chapter 2 describes the random assignment research design used to test the effectiveness of the programs, the definition and characteristics of the various samples included in this report, and the types and sources of data used. Chapter 3 describes the five-year effects of the programs on increasing participation in work-related activities. The chapter also documents whether programs increased the percentage of recipients who earned GEDs or other education credentials after random assignment. Importantly, the chapter expands the discussion in this chapter on the extent to which both control and program group members received welfare-to-work program services in the last two years of the five-year follow-up period.

Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 examine the five-year economic impacts of the programs, for all sample members as well as selected subgroups. These longer-term impacts could reflect an extension of the effects of services and experiences in the first two years of follow-up, the effect of new services and experiences in follow-up years 3 to 5, or a combination of both. Chapter 4 discusses the impacts of the programs on sample members' employment, earnings, job stability, and job quality. The chapter investigates whether employment- or education-focused programs fared better and what caused increases in average earnings: putting to work welfare recipients who would not have found jobs on their own, improving job quality for those who would have been employed anyway, or both. Chapter 5 presents impacts on welfare and Food Stamp receipt and payments, determining whether the programs achieved welfare savings and whether they did so by increasing the speed or frequency of welfare exits or by decreasing average grants for those on public assistance. Chapter 6 looks at earnings gains and welfare reductions from the perspective of sample members and presents impacts on individuals' combined income from earnings and benefits, level of self-sufficiency, and prospects for longer-term economic security. Chapter 7 determines the effects of alternative program strategies for different subgroups of welfare recipients. It explores the degree to which programs helped groups of the welfare population likely to have different capacities to find work on their own: those who had limited education credentials, those who were more disadvantaged (without recent work experience and who had been on welfare for two or more years), and those who were less disadvantaged.

Chapters 8, 9, and 10 are concerned with several noneconomic family outcomes. Chapter 8 examines the ways that programs affected sample members' health care coverage, for adults as well as children in the families studied. Chapter 9 discusses the effects of the programs on individuals' household and personal circumstances, examining impacts on marital status, the structure and composition of families and households, fertility, and barriers to work from and abuse by intimate partners and others. Chapter 10 looks at the effects of these welfare-to-work programs on sample members' work-related child care arrangements and on children's daily activities.

Chapters 11 and 12 examine the effects of the programs on children. Chapter 11 presents impacts on children of all ages in four of the sites using limited measures of child well-being. Chapter 12 presents impacts on a subset of children in three sites who were preschool-age at the start of the NEWWS Evaluation and generally between ages 8 and 10 at the five-year follow-up point; these analyses use in-depth child well-being measures, constructed from information supplied by parents, elementary school teachers, and the children.

Finally, Chapter 13 presents a benefit-cost analysis for each program studied, weighing benefits and costs from the perspectives of government and the sample members themselves.


1.  The programs and individuals studied in this evaluation are drawn from the entire county (or counties) mentioned in parentheses after the city name; for ease of reference, in this report the sites will be referred to by the name of their corresponding urban area.

2.  See Friedlander and Burtless, 1995; Bloom, 1997; and Riccio, Friedlander, and Freedman, 1994.

3.  It is important to note that the studies of the programs in the education-focused category yield information about the effects of increasing welfare recipients' participation in basic education programs (including Adult Basic Education, GED preparation, and English as a Second Language classes) and, to a much lesser extent, in vocational skills training programs, but not in college. On their own, many welfare recipients enroll in various types of education or training classes and reap benefits from them; the education-focused programs in the evaluation, however, sought to increase participation in education or training activities beyond what would normally occur. As will be discussed in Chapter 3, most of the programs did indeed increase such participation, but the increases in enrollments were in basic education courses and, to some degree, in vocational training courses, but generally not in college-level ones.

4.  See Scrivener and Walter, 2001, for a full discussion of the results of the direct test of Integrated versus Traditional case management in the Columbus site.

5.  See Freedman et al., 2000a, p. ES-6; Hamilton and Scrivener, 1999, pp. 24-31; Bloom, 1997, p. 51; Kemple, Friedlander, and Fellerath, 1995, pp. ES-2 and ES-3; and Friedlander et al., 1987, pp. vii-x.

6.  Control group members were eligible for child care assistance similar to that offered to program group members if they were participating in nonprogram activities in which they had enrolled on their own.

7.  While comparisons of impacts across programs or sites are not as reliable as the impacts for each program or site in the evaluation, they are a much more accurate determination of which types of programs are high and low performers than simple comparisons of statistics, such as welfare caseload reductions, across localities or states.

8.  For a description of the site selection process, see Hamilton and Brock, 1994, Appendix A.

9.  The participation of single mothers in the labor market also increased dramatically during this time period. Rates of employment for single mothers with any children under age 18 increased from 57 percent in 1992 to 71 percent in 1999 and for those with a child under age 3 increased from 35 to 56 percent over this same time period (U.S. House of Representatives, 2000, pp. 1412-1427).

10.  Data presented in this chapter are for the entire county (or counties) from which each site draws its sample members.

11.  These amounts assume the receipt of the maximum welfare payment.

12.  Greenberg, 1992.

13.  The federal EITC is a credit against federal income taxes for taxpayers with annual earnings below a certain level.

14.  See Hamilton et al., 1997; Scrivener et al., 1998; Farrell, 2000; Storto et al., 2000; and Scrivener and Walter, 2001.

15.  See also Hamilton et al., 1997; Scrivener et al., 1998; Farrell, 2000; Storto et al., 2000; and Scrivener and Walter, 2001. In addition, Bos et al., 2001, provides a detailed description of how adult education programs were implemented in the Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside HCD programs.

16.  Given Riverside's high grant level and earnings disregard policies, individuals could remain on welfare until they had a full-time wage of $8.35 per hour.

17.  See also Hamilton and Brock, 1994, pp. 51-55, for a more detailed description of the sites' enrollment practices.

18.  Exceptions for health reasons were typically few. In Columbus, for example, where detailed data on exemptions are available, the majority of exemptions were due to the youngest child being under age 3; less than 9 percent of the exempt single parents had a long-term illness or incapacitation and less than 3 percent were caring for an ill or incapacitated family member (including a child). See Hamilton, 1995.

19.  U.S. House of Representatives, 1996, Table 8-32; percentage of all AFDC households with a child under age 3.

20.  See Hamilton and Brock, 1994, and Knab et al., 2001, for a discussion of the length of time between referral to and enrollment in welfare-to-work programs and reasons for orientation nonattendance.

21.  As described in more detail in Chapter 2, in most of the sites, random assignment to research groups occurred once individuals attended program orientations. Only in Columbus and Oklahoma City did random assignment occur earlier.

22.  In Riverside, individuals working 30 hours per week or more were not enrolled in the program. In addition, program enrollees who were employed 15 to 29 hours per week were not assigned to additional, concurrent program activities.

23.  See Bane and Ellwood, 1983; Pavetti, 1992; Gueron and Pauly, 1991; and Hamilton and Brock, 1994.

24.  See Hamilton and Brock, 1994.

25.  The financial sanctions in effect during the NEWWS Evaluation were not the "full-family" sanctions currently being implemented in numerous states. During the period under study, sanctions affected only the adult member of the welfare case; for a three-person family in 1993, for example, a sanction would reduce the welfare grant by approximately 20 percent, depending on the site. In addition, the financial penalty continued until the sanctioned individual complied with the program participation mandate, with a minimum sanction length of three months for the second "offense" and a minimum length of six months for the third offense (with no minimum length for the first offense). As a result, some sanctioned individuals endured a penalty for a short amount of time while some experienced a penalty for much longer. For example, almost half of those sanctioned in the two Grand Rapids programs were in this status for at least 12 months of a 24-month follow-up period. See Hamilton et al., 1997; Scrivener et al., 1998; Farrell, 2000; Storto et al., 2000; and Scrivener and Walter, 2001, for more details on sanction practices in each of the NEWWS Evaluation sites.

26.  See Scrivener and Walter, 2001, pp. 3-5; and Bane and Ellwood, 1994, p. 127.

27.  Three evaluation sites also implemented welfare time limits during the later part of the five-year follow-up period. These would have applied to both program and control group members. This means that the count of months toward their welfare limit would have started; no sample members actually would have reached their welfare time limit during the follow-up for this evaluation.

28.  See Farrell, 2000, for details on how this change came about.

29.  The authors know of only one large-scale social program evaluation  the GAIN Evaluation, a study of California's late 1980s and early 1990s welfare-to-work program  that, by design, kept control group members from exposure to the specific program being evaluated for a follow-up period as long as five years.

30.  See Freedman et al., 2000a; McGroder et al., 2000; and Hamilton, 2000.

31.  For an extension of these results into the third year of follow-up, see Michalopoulos and Schwartz, 2001.