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


  • Few impacts on young children were found across sites. However, there were more impacts than would be expected by chance. Given that the JOBS program was not aimed at children, it is perhaps not surprising that relatively few impacts were found. It may be that impacts on outcomes important to children   such as mothers' employment, family income, and/or the children's immediate environments (home, school, child care)  were too few, occurred for too brief a period, or were of an insufficient magnitude to lead to numerous impacts on young children.
  • Within specific domains or programs, patterns of impacts were found.
    • All six programs affected young children's social skills and behavior, with the direction of impacts differing across sites. Both programs in Atlanta improved children's behavior, whereas both programs in Grand Rapids worsened children's behavior. The Riverside LFA program worsened children's behavior in the full sample, though for children whose mothers lacked a high school diploma or basic skills at study entry, both programs in Riverside improved behavior.
    • There were few impacts on young children's math or reading skills or on measures of academic progress and placement (for example, grade repetition, performing above or below grade level in reading or math).
    • There were few impacts on measures of health. When impacts were found, however, they were all unfavorable. Specifically, both Atlanta programs increased the likelihood of mothers' reporting that focal children had had a physical, mental, or emotional condition that required frequent medical attention and increased the likelihood of mothers' reports that such a condition impeded on their ability to go to work or school. In addition, mothers in the Grand Rapids LFA program and the Riverside HCD program were less likely than their control group counterparts to rate focal children's overall health as "very good" or "excellent."
  • Impacts on young children generally did not vary according to the welfare-to-work strategy employed. The pattern of impacts was similar for the LFA and HCD programs in each site.