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

12/01/2001

1. Effects on Mothers' Economic Outcomes

With a few exceptions, impacts on economic outcomes for survey sample respondents with preschool-age children are similar in Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Portland to impacts noted for the client survey sample.(19) However, in Riverside impacts are larger and more pronounced for survey sample respondents with preschool-age children than for the client survey sample. In particular, the Riverside LFA employment impacts for each of the five years of follow-up and cumulative earnings impacts for survey sample respondents with preschool-age children are nearly one-third to twice as big as impacts for the client survey sample.(20) The effects of mothers' employment for this age group may be either favorable (for example, through role modeling) or unfavorable. Although most of the children in this age group are likely to be in school for a large portion of the day, they still require supervision during off-school hours, and, thus, the effects of mothers' employment may also depend on the quality of child care or out-of-school arrangements. Recent evidence suggests that programs that increased employment and increased income have positive benefits for young school-age children, particularly in their cognitive development.(21) Research on the effects of poverty also finds that the negative effects of poverty are particularly pronounced for this age group of children.(22)

2. Effects on Child Outcomes

Outcomes and impacts for children of preschool-age at study entry (young school-age at the time of the five-year follow-up) are shown in Table 11.4. The table shows that 7 to 12 percent of children in the control group repeated a grade and 5 to 15 percent were ever suspended or expelled during the last three years of the follow-up period. The youngest of these children were likely in 2nd grade. For the oldest of these children, national figures for a roughly comparable age group show that 3.3 percent of 4th to 8th graders were retained in grade in 1995.(23) Roughly 5 to 7 percent of these children did not live with their mother because she could not care for them.

Table 11.4
Impacts on Child Outcomes During Years 3 to 5 for Preschool-Age Children at Random Assignment (Aged 8 to 10 at the Five-Year Follow-Up)

Site and Program

Sample Size Program Group (%) Control Group (%) Difference (Impact) Effect Size

Ever repeated a grade

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 766 11.9 11.9 -0.0 -0.00
Atlanta Human Capital Development 876 10.2 11.9 -1.7 -0.05
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 562 13.5 10.4 3.1 0.10
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 534 15.7 10.4 5.2* 0.17
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 829 4.4 9.7 -5.2*** -0.18
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 501 4.5 11.4 -6.9*** -0.22
Riverside Human Capital Development 648 8.9 11.4 -2.5 -0.08
Portland 262 6.4 7.1 -0.7 -0.03

Ever suspended or expelled

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 766 8.8 8.7 0.2 0.01
Atlanta Human Capital Development 876 8.8 8.7 0.1 0.00
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 561 6.6 8.2 -1.6 -0.06
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 532 7.6 8.2 -0.6 -0.02
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 820 4.3 6.2 -1.9 -0.08
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 496 4.0 4.7 -0.8 -0.04
Riverside Human Capital Development 640 5.5 4.7 0.8 0.04
Portland 257 9.4 14.8 -5.4 -0.16

Attended a special class for physical, emotional, or mental conditiona

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 766 8.2 7.2 1.0 0.04
Atlanta Human Capital Development 876 6.1 7.2 -1.2 -0.04
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 559 21.7 18.9 2.8 0.07
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 529 22.6 18.9 3.7 0.09
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 828 14.5 13.7 0.9 0.03
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 498 17.2 15.6 1.6 0.04
Riverside Human Capital Development 646 13.0 15.6 -2.7 -0.07
Portland 259 19.5 18.8 0.7 0.02

Had a physical, emotional, or mental condition that impeded on mother's ability to go to work or schoola

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 767 5.3 1.8 3.5*** 0.26
Atlanta Human Capital Development 877 3.2 1.8 1.3 0.10
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 564 7.1 6.7 0.3 0.01
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 536 6.8 6.7 0.1 0.00
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 832 4.9 8.5 -3.6** -0.13
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 501 3.4 7.0 -3.6* -0.14
Riverside Human Capital Development 648 7.3 7.0 0.3 0.01
Portland 262 13.8 16.2 -2.4 -0.06

Had a physical, emotional, or mental condition that required frequent medical attentiona

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 767 7.1 3.4 3.7** 0.20
Atlanta Human Capital Development 877 6.8 3.4 3.4** 0.18
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 563 13.9 11.2 2.7 0.08
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 536 13.2 11.2 2.0 0.06
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 832 6.9 9.9 -3.0 -0.10
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 501 6.9 8.7 -1.8 -0.06
Riverside Human Capital Development 648 7.2 8.7 -1.5 -0.05
Portland 260 16.0 11.0 5.0 0.16

Ever had accident, injury, or poisoning that required an emergency room visit

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 766 15.1 16.0 -0.9 -0.02
Atlanta Human Capital Development 876 14.2 16.0 -1.9 -0.05
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 561 22.7 22.0 0.7 0.02
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 531 18.7 22.0 -3.3 -0.08
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 819 25.0 24.5 0.6 0.01
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 498 22.9 19.3 3.6 0.09
Riverside Human Capital Development 640 20.2 19.3 0.9 0.02
Portland 258 33.3 24.7 8.6 0.20

Did not live with mother because she could not care for child

Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 767 3.4 4.8 -1.4 -0.07
Atlanta Human Capital Development 877 3.0 4.8 -1.8 -0.09
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 564 6.9 4.8 2.2 0.10
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 538 5.1 4.8 0.3 0.01
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 831 9.9 6.6 3.3* 0.13
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 500 6.8 6.6 0.2 0.01
Riverside Human Capital Development 647 5.2 6.6 -1.5 -0.06
Portland 262 9.8 7.3 2.5 0.09
SOURCE:  MDRC calculations from the Five-Year Client Survey.
NOTES:  See Appendix A.2.
Standard errors have been adjusted to account for the presence of multiple siblings within a family.
Owing to missing values, sample sizes may vary.
a Refers to conditions that were current at the time the survey was administered.

Again, few effects were found for this age group. The effects that were found were concentrated in Atlanta and Riverside, were all unfavorable in Atlanta, and, with one exception, favorable in Riverside. For example, both Atlanta programs increased the likelihood that a child had a condition requiring medical attention and Atlanta LFA increased the likelihood that a child had a condition that demanded a lot of attention. The Riverside LFA program decreased grade repetition by 5.2 percentage points. Attention should be drawn to the fact that the Riverside LFA program increased the likelihood that preschool-age children did not live with their mother because she could not care for them. It is interesting that the Riverside LFA program decreased grade repetition and, at the same time, increased the likelihood of not living with a parent.