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


This chapter examines the effects of employment- and education-focused programs on a variety of outcomes meant to capture the household and personal circumstances of families in the NEWWS Evaluation, such as sample members' household composition, relationships with other household members and with people outside the household (such as colleagues at work), and housing status.

Policymakers and researchers have increasingly come to recognize that welfare recipients' household and personal circumstances may influence the long-term impacts of welfare-to-work programs as well as mediate the impacts of these programs on children. For example, as welfare recipients go to work or increase their hours of employment, a spouse, partner, or extended family member may provide important support, particularly by caring for young children. The financial contribution of other members of the family or household may also play an essential role in moving a family out of poverty and into long-term self-sufficiencyВ  particularly since, as demonstrated in earlier chapters, these programs do not necessarily increase respondents' total income. The quality of personal and other relationships and housing status can also influence employment and other economic outcomes. For instance, welfare recipients who must contend with verbal or physical threats or who are worried about leaving their children alone at home in an unsafe neighborhood may have difficulty getting a job and keeping it.

At the two-year follow-up, few of the 11 welfare-to-work programs evaluated were found to have effects on marriage or additional births (that is, the number of children born since random assignment).(1) This chapter examines whether these programs produced impacts on these and related outcomes five years after study entry. In addition, for six programs in three sites, it examines program impacts on measures not examined at the two-year pointВ  specifically, measures of physical and nonphysical employment-related and domestic abuse by intimate partners or others.

Earlier chapters in this report presented impacts on employment, earnings, welfare receipt, and income for the full sample in the evaluation. This chapter examines outcomes and impacts for the Five-Year Client Survey sample, which included sample members in Atlanta, Grand Rapids, Riverside, and Portland (for details, see Chapter 2). In general, as discussed in Appendix I, the pattern of impacts for the client survey sample and the administrative records sample were similar for the LFA and HCD programs in Atlanta and Grand Rapids. The Riverside LFA program produced larger reductions in welfare and, consequently, larger losses in income for the client survey sample than for the full sample, and the Riverside HCD program produced larger increases in earnings, and, consequently, smaller losses in income for the client survey sample than for the full sample. The effects of the Portland program were also much less positive for the client survey sample than for the full sample. Thus, generalizations concerning how the Portland program effects on economic outcomes, especially those documented in earlier chapters, may have affected the outcomes described in this chapter should be made with considerable caution. Furthermore, it is important to remember that many of the family outcomes examined in this chapter were measured at the time of the five-year survey or during the last year of follow-up, by which time the control group embargo had been lifted in Atlanta and Grand Rapids.

The outcomes presented in this chapter depict important aspects of sample members' livesВ  as a representative subsample of welfare recipientsВ  and, thus, are noteworthy whether or not program impacts occurred. For this reason, hypotheses are followed by a descriptive analysis of selected outcomes that are of particular interest in terms of welfare and employment policy: marriage, living with unrelated adults and reports of domestic abuse. The chapter discusses program impacts and, briefly, links between effects on these aspects of sample members' lives and program practices and program effects on employment.