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

07/01/2004

Impacts on young children were infrequent, suggesting that while impacts on young children can occur, they most often do not. It may be that impacts on outcomes important to children  such as stable maternal employment, adequate family income, and sufficiently supportive environments experienced in children's daily lives (home, child care, school)  were too few, occurred for too brief a period, or were of an insufficient magnitude to lead to large, widespread impacts on young children.

In addition, impacts of a given JOBS program on children's environments may have occurred in opposite directions. For example, Atlanta's employment-focused program increased time stress reported by mothers at the two-year point (which predicted greater problem behaviors in children), but this program also increased employment and improved mothers' parenting (which predicted fewer problem behaviors). The net effect for children was slightly positive, that is, a reduction in behavior problems. In general, when program impacts on children's environments occur in countervailing directions, overall impacts on children may be small or non-existent.