Impact on Young Children and Their Families 2-Years After Enrollment: Why Look at Two-Year Impacts of JOBS Welfare-to-Work Programs on Children?. What Child Outcomes Might Be Affected By Welfare-to-Work Approaches Under JOBS?

09/17/2001

Children's development and well-being have been categorized in a variety of different ways (Moore, Evans, Brooks-Gunn and Roth, 1998; Zill and Coiro, 1992); however, there is a consensus that no one dimension of child well-being adequately describes the well-being of a child. Indeed, the report "Trends in the Well-being of America's Children and Youth: 1998" (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 1998) reports on more than eighty indicators of child and family well-being, and the report "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-being (Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 1997) identifies 26 measures of child well-being.

In this study, three broad aspects (or "domains") of development were identified for study:

  • cognitive functioning and academic achievement;
  • behavioral and emotional adjustment (including both problem and positive behavior); and
  • physical health and safety.

Within each of these three domains, we have selected multiple measures of children's development and well-being. There are two primary reasons for examining an array of measures. First, welfare-to-work approaches under JOBS have the potential to have far-reaching effects on the lives of families, affecting not only parental work, parental education, family income, and child care, but also, time use patterns, parental psychological well-being, and both the amount and quality of parent-child interaction. Hence, the potential implications for the well-being of children are necessarily broad as well. In addition, since welfare-to-work approaches under JOBS represented a new approach to encouraging self-sufficiency among welfare families, and given the minimal amount of two-generation research on welfare programs, there is a dearth of evidence to suggest that effects are only to be expected in one or two domains of child well-being. Finally, because "established" child development measures and assessments are rarely developed or normed on non-normative (e.g., low-income, racially/ethnically diverse) populations, it is important to examine multiple measures within each domain of development to provide a more complete picture of impacts among children in low-income families.