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


This chapter examines the impacts of seven of the NEWWS programs on child care use and, for a subgroup of school-age children ("focal" children), on activities during after-school hours from two perspectives: (1) as supporting mothers' employment and transition from welfare and (2) as providing a context for children's development.

A primary goal of the NEWWS Evaluation was to consider the extent to which mothers assigned to a welfare-to-work program moved from welfare to employment and to understand the supports that were important in bringing about such a transition. Child care was assumed to be of importance as a support for the transition to employment in that it provides for the supervision of children so that mothers can participate in work-related activities. Child care benefits were provided to both program and control group mothers who were participating in appropriate activities and were available while mothers were receiving welfare and for a year after they left welfare because of earnings.(1) Thus, a key question addressed in the first section of this chapter is whether there were program impacts on use of child care for purposes of employment and whether program group mothers made greater use of child care benefits than control group mothers.

National survey data indicate that child care arrangements are reported by low-income mothers who are not employed as well as by mothers who are employed (albeit at a lower rate).(2) Nonemployed mothers appear to use child care in order to expose their children to stimulating early childhood education environments and to support their own participation in education and training activities.(3) Within the context of the JOBS welfare-to-work programs studied here, the possibility exists that children's exposure to child care in the program groups might increase not only because of employment, but also as mothers increase their participation in education or training activities and perhaps come to value exposure to educational experiences and want these experiences for their children as well as for themselves.

The second section of this chapter explores the extent and nature of children's exposure to nonmaternal care for any purpose, not only as a support for employment. The underlying question is whether mothers' assignment to one of the welfare-to-work programs results in changes in the amount and type of nonmaternal care that children experience. The section that explores child care as a support for employment takes into account child care for all the children in the family under age 13 while the section that explores child care for any purpose focuses on the focal children in the Child Outcomes Study, who were aged 8 to 10 years at the five-year follow-up. This section presents impacts on both what mothers describe as regular child care arrangements for this school-age child and on supervision and activities during the after-school hours.