Both Grand Rapids programs increased mothers' employment but decreased average income from earnings and welfare benefits for mothers of toddlers at study entry. The general pattern of impacts on toddlers suggests that the children in these families were faring as well as, if not doing better than, their control group counterparts. A review of impacts on characteristics of employment, income, and child care assistance suggests some ways in which toddlers may have been affected. This review suggests that the reduced hours of work and, possibly, the use of higher-quality child care, and not decreased income, among program group members compared with control group members in Grand Rapids may have contributed to the pattern of effects on outcomes for toddlers.
A closer look at the impacts on hours of employment for these mothers shows that the Grand Rapid's programs increased part-time employment (and decreased full-time employment) during the most recent or current job. In fact, fewer hours worked may be what contributed to lower income for these mothers. They were also significantly more likely to be in jobs with rotating hours and to use child care after leaving welfare because of earnings. In contrast, the Portland program increased both full-time and part-time employment and similar effects on child care use were not found. Field notes also suggest that caseworkers in Grand Rapids had more leeway in administering reimbursement of child care costs (that is, payments were allocated in advance or retroactively), and one adult education center that operated the program's job clubs as well as providing some educational activities used by NEWWS sample members provided on-site child care. These differences may have influenced the quality of care used (for example, if on-site child care was of higher quality). Neither of these circumstances existed in Portland. Finally, there was a general pattern of decreased income in both Grand Rapids programs and the Portland program, suggesting that decreased income, on its own, is not a likely way in which toddlers were affected.