How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Links Between Effects on Child Outcomes and Program Practices or Particular Effects


The earlier sections began with hypotheses about how targeted outcomes of welfare-to-work programs, such as income and employment, may affect child well-being, and then discussed impacts on child outcomes. This section expands this discussion and hypothesizes ways in which actual program practices or program effects may have led to effects on child outcomes. A complete analysis of all the ways that a program may have affected or generated changes in child outcomes is beyond the scope of this chapter. However, comparing or "lining up" impacts on outcomes presented and discussed in earlier chapters with impacts on child outcomes can reveal potential effects on children. With this in mind, this section additionally discusses impacts on several other outcomes, including characteristics of employment, household composition, and home ownership for mothers of these children (not shown).

Comparing NEWWS Adolescent Findings With Those of Other Recent Studies

Recently released studies have documented some unfavorable effects of welfare and employment policy on the outcomes for adolescents. It was found that the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), a program that increased full-time employment and income, had no effect on major delinquency or academic functioning outcomes but did increase minor delinquency and tobacco, alcohol, and drug use among adolescents.a Florida's Family Transition Program (FTP), one of the first that evaluated the effects of a time limit, also found some scattered evidence that adolescents in the program group fared more poorly on a couple of schooling outcomes than adolescents in the control group.b Furthermore, additional analyses of data from New Hope, a program in Milwaukee that offered an earnings supplement and more generous child care and health care benefits for full-time low-income workers, found that New Hope had unfavorable effects on some measures of academic functioning.c The Minnesota Family Investment Program also produced negative effects on academic functioning outcomes of children aged 10 or over at study entry of recent applicants, although this pattern was generally not found for adolescents of long-term welfare recipients.d

Three of these studies (FTP, New Hope, and SSP) examined adolescents who were approximately aged 9 to 15 at the time of study entry, and under age 19 at the time of interview. To draw a more precise comparison of the effects of the welfare-to-work programs examined in this report with these former studies, impacts on adolescents were rerun for a similar age cohort. In general, the unfavorable effects found for the full adolescent sample in Grand Rapids and Riverside were also found for the restricted sample of adolescents. However, notably, as was the case for the full sample, no effects were found on these outcomes for the adolescent samples in Atlanta and Portland.

Although confidence in these emerging findings could be bolstered by better and broader measures of adolescent development and larger samples, they do provide some consistent evidence that welfare and employment programs may negatively affect some adolescent children. Why these unfavorable effects are occurring in some sites and programs but not in others, in some domains of development but not in others, and whether or not the observed unfavorable effects will result in long-term difficulties as adolescents move into adulthood are especially important issues for further research.

a Morris and Michalopoulos, 2000.
b Bloom et al., 2000a.
c Bos and Vargas, 2001.
d Gennetian and Miller, 2000.