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

12/01/2001

1. Effects on Mothers' Economic Outcomes

Impacts for survey sample respondents with toddlers (present in Grand Rapids and Portland samples only) are similar to impacts found for the client survey sample. Thus, mothers of these toddlers experienced some increased employment and losses in income from welfare and earnings. Research finds some evidence that mothers' employment during the first few years of life may be particularly detrimental to children's development.(15) The Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project, however, provides some evidence, based on limited outcomes, that welfare and employment programs that increase employment and income do not cause harm to infants and toddlers. Less is known about the sole effect of decreased income.(16)

2. Effects on Child Outcomes

Table 11.3 shows outcomes and impacts for children who were toddlers at study entry in the Grand Rapids and Portland sites. (These children were roughly 1st and 2nd graders at the time of the five-year follow-up.) Approximately 10 percent of these children in the Grand Rapids control group and 4 percent in the Portland control group repeated a grade during the last three years of follow-up. This range is comparable to national figures, which show that 7 percent of all 2nd graders and 10 percent of 2nd graders below poverty were retained in kindergarten or 1st grade in 1996.(17) Incidences of suspensions and expulsions among this age group  approximately 6 percent  seem quite high and, given that many of these children were aged 3 to 5 three years prior to the five year follow-up, may reflect suspensions or expulsions from child care arrangements rather than school. Possibly more alarming for this age group is that approximately 5 to 6 percent of these children in the control group did not live with their mother at some point during the follow-up period because she could not care for them.

Table 11.3
Impacts on Child Outcomes During Years 3 to 5 for Toddlers at Random Assignment
(Aged 6 and 7 at the Five-Year Follow-Up)

Site and Program

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

Ever repeated a grade

Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 361 8.7 10.4 -1.6 -0.05
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 381 8.2 10.4 -2.1 -0.07
Portland 217 6.2 3.6 2.6 0.19

Ever suspended or expelled

Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 360 0.0 6.2 -6.4*** -0.27
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 380 1.6 6.2 -4.6** -0.19
Portland 217 6.6 6.0 0.6 0.03

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

Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 358 11.5 15.2 -3.7 -0.10
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 379 14.7 15.2 -0.5 -0.01
Portland 215 20.0 17.2 2.8 0.08

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

Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 364 6.3 7.6 -1.3 -0.05
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 385 4.8 7.6 -2.8 -0.10
Portland 218 13.2 12.9 0.2 0.01

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

Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 363 7.3 14.1 -6.8** -0.20
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 385 10.3 14.1 -3.9 -0.12
Portland 218 14.4 11.7 2.7 0.09

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

Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 358 23.0 24.3 -1.3 -0.03
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 380 19.4 24.3 -4.9 -0.11
Portland 216 20.3 27.0 -6.8 -0.15

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

Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 364 6.2 4.6 1.6 0.07
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 386 5.0 4.6 0.4 0.02
Portland 218 8.4 6.0 2.4 0.10
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.

In general, few program effects were found for this age group. Given that the mothers of these toddlers generally experienced increased employment, it is noteworthy that more unfavorable effects were not found. Some of the unfavorable effects of employment on children may be influenced by the type and hours of employment, whether or not a mother wants to be employed, and the quality of child care. In fact, both Grand Rapids programs produced a consistent (though not always statistically significant) pattern of favorable effects for six of the seven outcome measures examined. The LFA and HCD program effects on suspensions and expulsions and the LFA effect on a condition requiring frequent medical attention were statistically significant and of a modest-to-large size relative to effects on child outcomes observed in comparable experimental studies.(18)