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?. Outline of Report

09/17/2001

Each of the subsequent chapters of this report addresses an underlying question.

Chapter 2: Methods: How Did We Study Impacts on Children? This chapter outlines the methods employed in the Child Outcomes Study. We describe the design of the larger National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies and the embedded Child Outcomes Study, as well as describe the procedures of the two-year survey that was the source of information on two-year child outcomes, family processes, and mothers' economic circumstances. We describe the measures we use in the two-year survey to assess the children's developmental outcomes. Finally, we provide an overview of the strategy for data analysis.

Chapter 3: What Were the Sites Like? What Were the Programs Like in Each Site? To be included as a site in the NEWWS, programs had to have previous experience running a strong welfare-to-work program. In addition, Atlanta (Fulton County), Georgia; Grand Rapids (Kent County), Michigan; and Riverside (Riverside County), California were selected as sites for the Child Outcomes Study because: (1) they were each implementing both human capital development and labor force attachment programs, (2) they were diverse in terms of race/ethnicity, and (3) they represented different regions of the country. These sites also differ in terms of how the programs were actually implemented, including the sequence and emphasis of activities, program messages, and the propensity to sanction noncompliant enrollees. Chapter 3 describes these three sites and their JOBS programs in some detail in order to provide a context for interpreting any impact findings for each program approach within each site.(6)

Chapter 4: Sample Description: Who Are the Families in Our Sample? Chapter 4 provides a description of the families in the Child Outcomes Study at baseline. These analyses indicate the heterogeneity of these families; there is range in the sample in terms of characteristics such as educational attainment, barriers to employment, and maternal psychological well-being. Results from this chapter suggest that families in this study are likely to vary in their readiness to participate successfully in JOBS welfare-to-work programs and to secure and maintain subsequent employment -- and child outcomes may differ as a result.

Chapter 5: How Are the Children Faring at Two Years? Descriptive Analyses of Control Group Children's Well-Being and Development. Chapter 5 describes the cognitive functioning, behavioral and emotional adjustment, and physical health status of children in the control group two years after random assignment. Whereas Chapter 6 focuses on program impacts, Chapter 5 provides the context for impact findings, indicating what children's outcomes would have been absent exposure to welfare-to-work approaches under JOBS (since only control group children are examined). Despite the fact that sample families are still generally economically disadvantaged at the two-year follow-up, there is considerable heterogeneity in the developmental status of these children. However, compared to national samples, many children in the Child Outcomes Study sample can be considered at risk on measures of cognitive school readiness, behavioral problems, and physical safety.

Chapter 6: Were There Aggregate Impacts of JOBS Welfare-to-Work Programs on Children's Developmental Outcomes at Two Years? In Chapter 6, we examine the impacts of welfare-to-work approaches under JOBS on sample children's cognitive functioning, behavioral/emotional adjustment, and physical health and safety outcomes. Results are examined separately by site and by program to allow any site-specific and/or program-specific effects to be isolated and identified. Results are "aggregate" in that they are presented for all children within each site and program approach. Impacts of JOBS welfare-to-work programs for specific subgroups of children are considered in Chapter 7.

Chapter 7: How Did JOBS Affect the Developmental Outcomes of Children in Particular Subgroups of Families? Because of the heterogeneity of the families in the NEWWS, it may be that impacts of JOBS programs on enrollees' children occur especially, or only, among certain subgroups of children. Even if there are no aggregate impacts on certain child outcomes, it is possible that impacts occurred in select higher-risk or lower-risk subgroups. Chapter 7 presents impacts on children's cognitive functioning, behavioral and emotional adjustment, and physical health and safety for key subgroups.

Chapter 8: How Are the Families Faring at Two Years? Descriptive Analyses of Key Aspects of Families' Lives. There are a variety of mechanisms through which JOBS programs may have affected children of enrollees. Chapter 8 begins with theoretical rationales for why each proposed intervening mechanism under consideration may be affected by JOBS and why, in turn, each may affect children's outcomes. The chapter then presents descriptive statistics on each intervening mechanism for the control groups at the two-year follow-up to illustrate the range of maternal, family, and contextual characteristics in this sample. The chapter concludes with a summary and discussion of the relative disadvantage of these sample families, aside from any impacts of the JOBS Program.

Chapter 9: Did the JOBS Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect Families in Ways That Could Be Important to Children? Considering the aspects of families' lives described in Chapter 8, this chapter examines which of these were affected by the JOBS programs in each of the three sites. Findings are presented both in the aggregate and for key subgroups of families, as defined in Chapter 7.

Chapter 10: To What Extent Do Program Impacts on Targeted and Non-Targeted Adult and Family Outcomes Help to Explain Selected Impacts of JOBS on Children? This chapter focuses on the extent to which changes in family life help to explain the impacts of JOBS on children. Mediational analyses are reported for a subset of the child impacts, chosen because they illustrated the overall pattern of child impact findings in the different domains of development. These non-experimental analyses will help in the formulation of specific hypotheses that can be examined in the future with further longitudinal data from the five-year follow-up in the Child Outcomes Study.

Chapter 11: What Have We Learned About the Early Impacts of JOBS Welfare-to-Work Programs on Children and Families? Summary of Findings and Discussion of Implications. Finally, in Chapter 11, we summarize key findings regarding the nature of the risks faced by control group children and families in the Child Outcomes Study, and findings pertaining to the early impacts of JOBS welfare-to-work programs on children and families. Implications of these findings for understanding the well-being of children in impoverished families in general are considered. We discuss how these findings and related studies may be informative regarding possible impacts of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 on families and children. We also note the limitations of the present study. Looking to the future, we identify important next steps that can build on the findings of this report.

 

Endnotes

1.В It should be noted that the welfare-to-work strategies implemented under the JOBS Program do not reflect the changes in welfare policy under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. That is, this is not an evaluation of welfare-to-work approaches adopted as part of the new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF, which replaced AFDC under PRWORA). As we will note in further detail in this and other chapters, however, an examination of impacts on children of a set of programs operated under JOBS can help us anticipate whether and how programs implemented under PRWORA may be affecting children.

2.В  Throughout this report, we use the term child outcome to refer to the measures of child well-being and development. We reserve the term child impact to describe statistically significant differences on a child outcome measure between children in program group families and children in control group families.

3.В  Program mothers may not have remained "JOBS mandatory" during the entire two-year follow-up period if, for example, they secured employment or left welfare. Indeed, mothers assigned to Riverside's JOBS programs were JOBS mandatory for less than half of the follow-up period. Nonetheless, mothers assigned to Riverside's LFA program still participated in only one-quarter of the months in which they were required to participate during the follow-up period, whereas mothers assigned to Atlanta's and Grand Rapids' HCD programs participated in over half of the months in which they were required to participate.

4.В  Control group families were subject to the same guidelines about child care within each site as experimental group families. In Atlanta, subsidies could only be used for licensed child care (and this held for both experimental and control group families). In Riverside, both experimental and control group families were encouraged to use lower cost informal child care arrangements. In Grand Rapids, type of child care was left to the family (again in both experimental and control groups). However, we note that the enhanced case management received by experimental group mothers in each site might have provided a context for further discussions about child care issues.

5.В  Data collection for the Child Outcomes Study was complete by January 1996. We note that the period of data collection for the Child Outcomes Study antedates and does not overlap with the period of implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

6.В  Much of this chapter draws from the report of the larger NEWWS titled, Evaluating Two Welfare-to-Work Approaches: Two-Year Findings on the Labor Force Attachment and Human Capital Development Programs in Three Sites (Hamilton, Brock, Farrell, Friedlander, and Harknett, 1997). For greater detail on how each treatment stream was implemented in each of the sites, see this report.