How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. "Mapping" Child and Adult Impacts Found in the Child Outcomes Study Sample

12/01/2001

There were relatively few impacts on young children's developmental outcomes at the five-year point; possible reasons why more numerous impacts on children were not found are addressed in the next section. Nevertheless, there were more statistically significant impacts than would be expected by chance, indicating that welfare-to-work programs can (though modestly) alter children's developmental outcomes  though in different ways across programs, sites, and developmental domains.

This section addresses the question: What may have led to the program impacts on children that were found at the five-year point? The sophisticated statistical analyses necessary to answer this question definitively are beyond the scope of the chapter. However, any such "pathways" analyses would need to begin with an examination of impacts on outcomes hypothesized to serve as pathways through which children were affected  for example, employment, income, and child care  and "map" these impacts onto the impacts found for children. If, for example, the programs producing predominantly favorable impacts on young children were the same programs that also increased mothers' employment, this may suggest that increasing employment is one way to improve child outcomes. If, in addition, the programs that did not produce favorable impacts on children also did not increase employment, then increasing employment would appear to be a necessary condition for improving child outcomes. To address this issue, the following section describes the patterns of key adult impacts that may explain the larger pattern of child impacts across programs.(24)