Impacts of a Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Program on Children at School Entry and Beyond: Findings from the NEWWS Child Outcomes Study. Endnotes

07/01/2004

1.  The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) conducted the NEWWS under a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), funded by HHS under competitive award # HHS100-89-0030. HHS also received funding for the evaluation from the U.S. Department of Education. Child Trends, as a subcontractor to MDRC, conducted the Child Outcomes Study. Additional funding for the Child Outcomes Study came from the Foundation for Child Development and the William T. Grant Foundation.

2.  Employment-focused programs were operated in Atlanta, GA; Grand Rapids, MI; Riverside, CA; and Portland, OR. Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside also operated education-focused programs, as did Columbus, OH (which operated two programs varying in the structure of case management); Detroit, MI; and Oklahoma City, OK.

3.  See Hamilton et al. (2001) and Hamilton (2002) for greater detail.

4.  Data from the NEWWS, including the Child Outcomes Study, are available free as public use files from the following HHS website: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/NEWWS/. Restricted access files, which contain some additional information, are available for a nominal fee and must be used on site at the National Center for Health Statistics.

5.  This average vocabulary score for this subsample of Child Outcomes Study children is two standard deviations below this average score for the national sample. In other words, whereas about half of the Child Outcomes Study subsample scored 70 or lower, only about 3 percent of the 3- to 5-year-olds in the national sample scored this low.

6.  "Limiting condition" was defined as a "handicap, illness, emotional problem, or mental condition that limits his/her ability to attend school, to exercise or participate in sports, or that requires special medical equipment". Parents with severely ill or disabled children were generally not mandated to participate in welfare-to-work programs in the early to mid-1990s; as a result, such families were not included in the NEWWS samples. Their exclusion, however, is unlikely to have affected very much the overall level of assessed health for the children in the control groups. Data available from the NEWWS suggest that fewer than 3 percent of the exemptions from participation were granted due to children's severe health problems.

7.  About three-quarters of mothers in the control groups rated the young child as being in "very good" or "excellent" health at both the two- and five-year follow-up.

8.  The average score for Child Outcomes Study control group children was one full standard deviation below that of 5- to 7-year-old children in the national sample used to standardize the Bracken Basic Concepts Scale/School Readiness Composite. See Bracken, B.A. (1984). Bracken Basic Concepts Scale: Examiner's Manual. The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

9.  Zaslow, M.J., and McGroder, S.M. (April, 1999). Behavior Problems and Cognitive School Readiness Among Children in Families with a History of Welfare Receipt: Diverging Patterns and their Predictors. Presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, held in Albuquerque, NM, April 15-18, 1999.

10.  Children were administered the Woodcock-Johnson Revised Tests of Achievement (Woodcock & Johnson, 1989; 1990) at the five-year follow-up. Information on the achievement test scores of a national sample of children permits comparisons to other samples of children. Scores between 90 and 110, representing the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively, are considered "average" or "normal" (Woodcock & Mather, 1989, 1990). Thirty-four and 37 percent of control group children in Riverside and Atlanta (respectively) scored in the "below-average" range on the Woodcock Johnson Broad Reading Score. Only about 17 and 20 percent (in Atlanta and Riverside, respectively) scored in the "above-average" range on this measure.

11.  Program-control group differences on an outcome that occurred with a probability of less than 10 percent were considered "statistically significant". That is, we posited that a difference of this magnitude did not occur by chance, and we concluded that this program did, in fact, have an impact on this outcome.

12.  Earlier cognitive impacts in Atlanta did not exceed one-fifth of a standard deviation in size. Later impacts on reading level, discipline problems, and social skills and behavior were between one-quarter and one-third of a standard deviation in size. Five-year impacts of Atlanta's programs on absenteeism and/or tardiness were larger, approaching one-half of a standard deviation in size.

13.  The unfavorable impacts of Grand Rapids' education-focused program on behavior at the five-year point were typically between one-quarter and one-third of a standard deviation.

14.  Both favorable and unfavorable behavioral and academic impacts of Riverside's programs at the five-year point generally ranged from one-quarter to one-third of a standard deviation in size.

15.  Among children whose mothers lacked a high school diploma at study entry, Riverside's employment-focused program increased math scores by almost one-half a standard deviation, and Riverside's education-focused program increased absenteeism by almost one-half a standard deviation.

16.  "Total net adjusted household income" adds up to 15 sources of income from all household members, an estimated amount of the Federal earned income tax credit, and subtracts out estimated child care costs. See Freedman et al., 2000, p. 105, for details.

17.  Though "family risk" was defined differently at the two-year and five- year follow-ups, each definition took into account the number and/or severity of such factors as work history, time on welfare, maternal educational attainment, maternal literacy, number and spacing of children it he family, and maternal depressive symptoms. Findings summarized here reflect the pattern of findings for children in "lower-risk" and children in "higher-risk" families, variously defined.

18.  These were each of the three education-focused programs and Atlanta's employment-focused program.

19.  These were the employment-focused program in Grand Rapids and both programs in Riverside.

20.  Mothers who lacked a high-school diploma at study entry, had not worked in the year prior to study entry, and who had been receiving welfare for at least two years before the study were defined as the "most disadvantaged". Mothers with one or two of these barriers were considered "moderately disadvantaged," and mothers with none of these barriers were considered "least disadvantaged".

21.  Though samples sizes for the least disadvantaged subgroups in these programs were relatively small, impacts for this subgroup are being reported cautiously because they were relatively numerous and they formed a pattern (i.e., they were consistently unfavorable).

22.  See Knox, V., Miller, C., & Gennetian, L.A. (2000). Reforming Welfare and Rewarding Work: Final Report on the Minnesota Family Investment Program. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation; Bloom, D., Kemple, J.J., Morris, P., Scrivener, S., Verma, N., & Hendra, R. (2001). The Family Transition Program: Final Report on Florida's Initial Time-Limited Welfare Program. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. See review in Zaslow, M.J., Brooks, J.L., Moore, K.A., Morris, P., Tout, K., & Redd, Z. (2001). Impacts on children in experimental studies of welfare-to-work programs. Report to the Edna McConnell Clark and David and Lucille Packard Foundations; and Zaslow, M.J., Moore, K.A., Brooks, J.L., Morris, P., Tout, K., Redd,, Z., & Emig, C. (2002). Experimental studies of welfare reform and children. Future of Children, Vol 12 (1), 79-95.

23.  A recent study using two-year Child Outcomes Study data found that the number of months mothers participated in basic education activities predicted a greater readiness for school and fewer academic problems in their young children. Magnuson, K. & McGroder, S. M. The effect of increasing welfare mothers' education on their young children's academic problems and school readiness. Submitted to the Journal of Public Policy and Management.

24.  Emerging evidence suggests that young children appear to benefit from welfare-to-work programs only when both parental employment and family income are improved. Three recent syntheses of findings from evaluations of numerous welfare-to-work and anti-poverty programs found that total income can be affected by programs containing strong financial incentives for work (such as enhanced earned income disregards). Morris, P.A., Huston, A.C., Duncan, G.J., Crosby, D.A., & Bos, J.M. (2001). How welfare-to-work policies affect children: A synthesis of research. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. Sherman, A. (2001). How children fare in welfare experiments appears to hinge on income. Washington, D.C.: Children's Defense Fund. Zaslow et al. (2001). Zaslow et al. (2002). See also Duncan, G.J., & Chase-Lansdale, P.L. (2001). Welfare reform and child well-being. In R.M. Blank & R. Haskins (Eds.), The New World of Welfare (pp. 391-412). Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.

25.  Failure of adult and child impacts to map at the aggregate level does not rule out the possibility that these adult impacts operate as pathways for certain subgroups of families.

2.  Duncan, G. J., & Brooks-Gunn, J., Ed. (1997). Consequences of growing up poor. New York, Russell Sage Foundation.

 

 

How to Obtain a Printed Copy

To obtain a printed copy of this report, send or fax the title and your mailing address to:

Human Services Policy, Room 404E
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Av, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Fax: (202) 690-6562