MISSION: To promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities.
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) administers a broad range of entitlement and discretionary programs, including income maintenance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF]); child support; children and family services (Head Start, Child Welfare, Family Preservation and Support, and youth programs); four block grants; and special programs for targeted populations, such as the developmentally disabled, immigrants, and Native Americans.
The objectives of ACF's evaluations are to furnish information on designing and operating effective programs; to test new service delivery approaches capitalizing on the success of completed demonstrations; to apply evaluation data to policy development, legislative planning, budget decisions, program management, and strategic planning and performance measures development; and to disseminate findings of completed studies and promote application of results by State and local governments.
ACF actively engages with other Federal agencies, State and local policy and program officials, national organizations, foundations, professional groups and practitioners, and consumers to stay current on emerging issues affecting its programs and to identify questions for evaluation studies. Systems changes and how they affect vulnerable populations, particularly children, are of primary concern. The movement toward devolving responsibility for health and human services to State and local organizations--in particular, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996--offer both tremendous opportunities and unprecedented challenges in redefining and implementing services for families. Evaluation study designs are negotiated carefully with the States and other interest groups. Studies often are funded as joint ventures with Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and other Federal agencies and foundations. Such collaborations permit large-scale efforts that are better informed and more representative of varying perspectives. Proposals are reviewed by multidisciplinary experts. Work groups of various kinds are used to monitor the progress of projects and to advise on design refinements and the presentation of findings.
Summary of Fiscal Year 1997 Evaluations
ACF's evaluations are linked closely to its two strategic goals:
- To measurably improve the economic independence and productivity of families by reforming the welfare system and by stimulating the changes in attitude and behavior necessary to achieve results; and
- To increase the number of children, youth, and families who have improved health, development, and well-being and live in stable communities.
During FY 1997, ACF completed 19 evaluations--4 pertaining to the economic independence and productivity of families, and 15 related to the healthy development of children and families.
Economic Independence and Productivity of Families
LEAP: Final Report on Ohio's Welfare Initiative to Improve School Attendance Among Teenage Parents--Ohio's Learning, Earning, and Parenting Program (6668), highlighted in Chapter II, found that (1) even the initial implementation of LEAP was a considerable achievement as an unprecedented statewide effort requiring new linkages between county welfare and education systems; (2) the program achieved smooth operations after implementing a sophisticated statewide public assistance computer system; and (3) to a large extent, LEAP met its initial goals by significantly increasing school enrollment and attendance for in-school teens and dropouts (these outcomes were directly linked to the incentives and sanctions provided); (4) in general, the impacts on school completion and employment were more positive for teens who were still in school when they were identified as eligible for the program (initially-enrolled participants) than for dropouts who returned to school; and (6) LEAP increased the employment rates for initially-enrolled teens and had positive impacts on their earnings during the first 2 years of the 4-year followup.
Responsible Fatherhood: An Overview and Conceptual Framework (5981) found that fathering, even more than mothering, is influenced by contextual forces in the family and the community. A father in an adversarial relationship with the mother is at risk of becoming an irresponsible father, as is a father who lacks adequate employment and income. Responsible fathering can be fostered by positive changes in cultural, economic, institutional, and interpersonal influences. The report contends that fathering programs should involve a wide range of interventions, including (1) involving the mother where feasible and, for unmarried fathers, the families of origin; (2) promoting collaborative co-parenting; (3) emphasizing critical transitions, such as the birth of a child and divorce of the parents; (4) dealing with employment, economic issues, and community systems; (5) promoting father-to-father learning; and (6) promoting the visibility of committed and collaborative marriage. By developing a theoretical underpinning to guide empirical research, program development, and program evaluation, this project is intended to help inform policymakers about what is necessary to enable a father to support and nurture a child.
The Self-Sufficiency Project Implementation Manual: Lessons Learned from Eight Years of Office of Community Services Demonstration Partnership Programs (4336.4), featured in Chapter II, summarizes lessons learned during eight years of Demonstration Partnership Program (DPP) projects. DPP's purposes have been to stimulate the development of innovative approaches to increasing the self-sufficiency of the poor, to test and evaluate these new approaches, and to encourage their replication through dissemination of project results and findings. These projects were designed to strengthen the ability of grantees to integrate, coordinate, and redirect activities through community partnerships that promote maximum self-sufficiency among low-income individuals and families who rely on or are at risk of relying on public assistance. The report divides the projects into five program areas: (1) case management and family development, (2) micro-enterprise and self-employment, (3) minority males, (4) homelessness, and (5) youth at risk. Generic models for establishing effective community-based programs are presented, and materials for program evaluation are elaborated. For each of the five program areas, general lessons learned are presented, followed by specific lessons learned pertaining to project design, project start-up, project operations, and project evaluation. The project implementation manual was designed as a step-by-step guide to the successful design, implementation, and evaluation of self-sufficiency projects by community action agencies, community-based organizations, and local community program planners. It is also meant to serve as a critical reality check for legislators and policymakers as they strive to design laws and programs that will use scarce resources more effectively to foster self-sufficiency and build sustaining capacity within low-income families and communities.
The Arkansas Prenatal and Postnatal Paternity Acknowledgment Project (6221) used five basic models: (1) basic in-hospital paternity acknowledgment with a genetic testing option; (2) prenatal and multiple postnatal opportunities to acknowledge paternity; (3) interstate paternity acknowledgment transfer project (i.e., parents from one State traveled to another State, gave birth, and signed paternity acknowledgments in that State); (4) home-visiting nurse program; and (5) alternative parental support program, which abates or reduces child support payments for young fathers who participate in opportunities to increase parental responsibility. First, the study found that mothers, identified by child support staff to be uncooperative in establishing paternity, stated that they did not want to establish paternity because either the child's father was not involved and that the father gave the mother money already, or that the mother did not know where the father was living. By the end of the project, 13,688 paternity acknowledgments had been received, and the ratio of paternity acknowledgments to unmarried births ranged from 48 percent in 1995 to 56 percent for the first 3 months of 1996. The study also found that 38 percent of the acknowledgments were matched to children in the Arkansas child support data base, and 27 percent of these had closed by September 1996. Payments had been received on only 16 percent of matched cases.
Healthy Development of Children and Families
The Descriptive Study of the Head Start Health Component (5849) describes health screening, examination, referral, treatment, and followup procedures across the four health domains of medical, dental, nutrition, and mental health. The researchers reviewed the case records of 1,200 4-year-old children enrolled in a national sample of 40 randomly selected Head Start programs and interviewed parents regarding their child's health status and health service utilization patterns. Through interviews with appropriate Head Start personnel, descriptions were obtained on Head Start program staffing patterns and staff training, the use of community health resources, and barriers to providing health services.
The First Progress Report on the Head Start Program Performance Measures (6693) is the first program assessment using performance measures to promote accountability through the assessment of program quality and outcomes. It describes the development of the performance measures, noting their focus on outcomes rather than on processes. The outcomes that will be measured concern how well the children in the program do, rather than on such things as teacher credentials. The Head Start program also has in place a series of Program Performance Standards-- which define program activities--while the Program Performance Measures define program results. The report describes the background of the Program Performance Measures development, including the conceptual model and data sources. The report includes an account of how the Head Start program will gather data for the measures and establish a "feedback loop" for policy and resource decisionmaking. The report concludes that the performance measures will provide a snapshot of the Head Start's program performance at a given point in time and will allow the program to compare its performance to the past. At the national level, it will allow the program to determine how well it is doing through the production of periodic national Head Start progress reports. This first report will serve as a benchmark against which future performance can be measured and furnishes program accountability information to be used in appropriate decisions.
The National Study of Protective, Preventive, and Reunification Services Delivered to Children and Their Families (3874) assessed the numbers of children and families in the child welfare system who are receiving protective, preventive reunification, out-of-home care, and/or aftercare services. It also obtained national data on the number, types, and dynamics of the services provided. Case record abstracts were completed on a nationally representative sample of 3,000 children and their families served by public child welfare agencies. A subsample was followed for a 9-month period. These findings were compared with findings from a previous study, the 1977 National Study of Social Services to Children and Their Families. The study found that (1) between 1977 and 1994, there was a dramatic decline in the number of children receiving child welfare services, reflecting the evolution of the child welfare system from a broad-based social services system to one primarily serving abused and neglected children and their families; (2) the child welfare system has not evolved into an in-home family-based system from a foster care system, as had been envisioned by the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980; (3) foster care drift remains a problem, with more than one-third of the children in foster care remaining there for more than 18 months; (4) minority children, particularly African-American children, are more likely to be in foster care placement than to receive in-home services, even when they have the same characteristics and problems as white children; and (5) kinship care does not explain the dramatically longer stays in foster care for African-American and Hispanic children compared to white children.
The Examination of Special Needs Adoption in New York State--Phase III Report: Subsidized Adoptions in New York State, 1989-1993 (4380.1) was initiated in order to pilot a statewide data collection system for special needs adoptions. The study analyzed information on the characteristics of adopted children and their adoptive families, looking at procedural issues and the nature and amount of subsidy payments provided to the adopted child. This was done for the entire population of children being placed in New York by public and private agencies. The Phase III report, one of five phase reports, contains a descriptive analysis of statistics on the number of children placed between 1989 and 1993 in New York State, the level of this support, and the nature of the children's special needs. The report found that (1) 12,858 new adoption subsidies were approved in New York State during the study period; (2) 62 percent of children receiving an adoption subsidy in the State qualified because they were hard to place; (3) personality or behavioral problems were the most prevalent reason for a child's classification as handicapped (about one-fourth of children qualified for a subsidy had physical handicaps or severe medical conditions); (4) more male than female children were adopted with a subsidy in New York State; and (5) about one-half of all special needs children are placed in adoptive homes headed by a single mother.
Eleven evaluations addressed the issue of child maltreatment. First, Child Maltreatment 1995: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (5387.4) found that (1) in 1995, more than 1 million children were identified as victims of abuse or neglect (a rate of 15 per 1,000 children); (2) about 80 percent of the perpetrators of child maltreatment were the parents of the victims, while another 10 percent were other relatives and about 2 percent were people in other caretaking roles; (3) 52 percent of victims suffered from neglect, about twice as many as were subjected to physical abuse, the next most frequent kind of maltreatment,(25 percent); (3) about 13 percent of victims were sexually abused; (4) more than half of all victims were 7 years of age or younger, while about 26 percent younger than 4 years old (about 21 percent of victims were teenagers); (5) the majority of victims of neglect and medical neglect were younger than 8 years old, while most victims of other forms of maltreatment were older than 8 years old; and (6) 45 States reported that 996 children were known by the child protection services (CPS) agency to have died as a result of abuse or neglect--most of these deaths were children 3 years of age or younger. The report also found that (1) CPS agencies investigated nearly 2 million reports alleging maltreatment of about 3 million children (a rate of 43 per 1,000 children); (2) reports were received from professionals (53 percent), family members (19 percent), friends and neighbors (9 percent), and anonymous sources (19 percent); and (3) nationally, about 36 percent of investigations resulted in a disposition of either substantiated or indicated maltreatment, while 58 percent of allegations were not substantiated.
Evaluation of Nine Comprehensive Community-Based Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Programs: Cross-Site Evaluation Report (5851) is a synthesis of the site evaluations that were part of ACF's comprehensive community-based child abuse and neglect prevention programs. The purposes of the study were (1) to design and implement a process and impact evaluation of nine comprehensive community-based child abuse and neglect prevention projects; (2) to provide technical assistance to the nine projects in meeting the requirements of the evaluation; and (3) to aid the programs in designing and implementing their own internal program evaluations. The evaluation was conducted in three phases over a 3-year period. The nine projects had up to ten service components, many of which differed across the programs. Therefore, individual experimental designs were developed for each service component. Process and impact data were collected across programs and through a series of studies conducted in each site. All grantees were aided in refining their evaluation and research plans. The report provides a context for understanding the experiences of the nine projects. A literature review, an examination of study methodology, the projects' implementation experiences, an accounting of the study findings, and policy recommendations are offered. The report found several program elements vital to the success of the projects, including (1) an emphasis on community involvement and ownerships, (2) employing a positive approach, (3) starting on a small scale, and (4) implementing a strong evaluation and using it as a program management tool. The report recommends that the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) implement several strategies to enhance the success of these kinds of projects, including (1) focusing future grant programs on more narrowly defined target populations, (2) stressing the importance of community involvement, and (3) providing grantees with a research framework and priorities delineating key research questions on child maltreatment and requiring grantees to implement appropriate process and outcome evaluation designs.
Described below are the results of the individual evaluations of the nine comprehensive community-based child abuse and neglect prevention programs. Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of Family Care Connection (5851.3) describes a replication in several high-risk communities of a preexisting program in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, using community-based parent education to improve parent-child relationships. Family Care Connection (FCC) expanded services at an existing drop-in center and established four centers in three more at-risk communities. The centers provided such services as respite care, child development, recreation, education, and counseling. An evaluation found that (1) 279 parents had graduated from the parenting classes from September 1989 through June 1991, and that these graduates reported that they would be less likely to use physical punishment with their children; (2) the rate of low birthweight babies decreased after program implementation in two communities; and (3) FCC was successfully established as an institution in the communities through aggressive pursuit of funding and by using staff that were hired and paid by "partner agencies." The report concludes that FCC achieved notable success in institutionalizing its services in the communities in which it established drop-in centers under the NCCAN grant. FCC carefully selected community agencies as partners, and established personal contacts and networking connections with agencies and organizations in its target communities.
The report of Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of Families First in Fairfax (5851.1) found that (1) the program being operated in Fairfax County, Virginia, at the end of the grant period differed substantially from the one originally proposed: a number of child abuse prevention strategies attempted during the first two years were ultimately discontinued; (2) the greatest barrier to program implementation during the first two years was a lack of specificity on how to achieve the program's mission; (3) during the last two years, program development was dynamic and yielded many effective strategies that were made permanent at the end of the demonstration period; (4) the demonstration program fostered a growth in parenting programs, family and early infant health care programs, neighborhood resource centers, and directories of services made available to ethnic minority populations; (5) the program also encouraged increased collaboration and information-sharing between the agencies and organizations working in the area of child abuse and neglect prevention; and (6) the biggest problems during the 5-year demonstration period were frequent leadership changes and staff turnover.
The report, Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of Community Coalition Acting for Positive Parenting (5851.2), developed by Temple University's Center for Social Policy and Community Development, found that the project (1) affected three different groups: the community, child abuse professionals, and the University, allowing members of each group to learn from members of other groups and fostering an expanded community cooperation; (2) sparked the institutionalization of community-based efforts to support families and inform the community about its role in preventing child abuse; (3) created a community-based planning and development council or community board through which key leaders can both receive and disseminate information; (4) shifted its attention away from child abuse and neglect to a more positive, family-support approach by fostering Family Life Festivals, library programs, and parent-child activities, which reduced parental isolation; (5) using community-based providers as agents for prevention activities enabled the program to attract more of the target population; and (6) universities that have experience working with social issues facilitate program implementation and lend legitimacy to community-based efforts.
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of Community Lifelines Program (5851.4) describes a program developed by the Family Life Development Center of Cornell University in collaboration with the government and human service agencies of Chemung County, New York. The program was designed to alleviate community conditions that lead to isolation, poor self-image, and economic stress, thereby reducing some underlying causes of child abuse and neglect. Community Lifelines Programs (CLPs) were responsible for various program initiatives in the city of Elmira and the rural Van Etten/Spencer school district. The initiatives included Parent Partner Programs (PPPs), parent support groups, activities encouraging better parent-child communication, and family support programs. The report describes the community, the grantee agency, the program design and changes over time, barriers to program implementation, and strategies used to overcome these barriers. It also describes the program effects and efforts to institutionalize CLP components. The report finds that the Elmira PPP was very successful, as was the CLP in Van Etten/Spencer. In Elmira, the PPP fostered better relationships between schools and parents, between parents, and between parents and children. In Van Etten/Spencer, several initiatives succeeded, including a program for parents of teenagers (Parent Lifelines), an after-school program, and a playgroup. However, several other initiatives had little impact or started too late in the demonstration period to be measured. These included the Family Portraits component, the Family Connections Room, and Food Stamps Outreach. The public awareness campaign launched in conjunction with CLP was successful and useful, according to a reader survey.
The report of the project Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of PARE (Physical Abuse and Neglect Reduction Effort) (5851.5), developed by the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse in Carolina, Puerto Rico, discusses the environmental factors and indicators of social disruption associated with increased risk for child abuse and neglect in Puerto Rico. It provides a comprehensive overview of all aspects of the PARE program design and operations, as well as evaluation findings. PARE provided intervention strategies in an effort to stop future child abuse while preserving the family. PARE was designed to be family-oriented and to emphasize self-help and volunteer action. The demonstration model emphasized interventions directed towards the individual, the family, and the community, as well as cultural factors. The report describes several interventions, including (1) an interagency task force, (2) a public awareness campaign, (3) respite centers, (4) a life skills curriculum, (5) an educational curriculum for prenatal clinics, (6) a parent aid program, and (7) a parent laboratory. The report finds that (1) the development and implementation of three respite centers pioneered new concepts and approaches to providing secondary prevention; (2) 702 volunteers provided support services and served as role models; (3) the program gained the support of the community, government officials, public and private agencies, the business community, and the media; and (4) the public awareness campaign was broadcast throughout Puerto Rico and reached a large segment of the population. The report concludes that PARE increased child abuse awareness in Puerto Rico, but that more work needs to be done before child abuse prevention becomes a priority for leaders and politicians on the island.
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of North Lawndale Family Support Initiative (5851.6) describes a project developed by the Greater Chicago Council of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse to test the efficacy of a model that advocates comprehensive prevention strategies aimed at both the community and its residents. The model includes community education, parent education, parent support groups, school-based prevention services for children, and therapeutic services for abused children and their families. The evaluation found that (1) the most successful components of the North Lawndale Family Support Initiative (NLFSI) were the advisory council, the community needs assessment, public awareness, and life skills training; (2) the least effective components were the parent education program, the parent support groups, and therapeutic care--this ineffectiveness was due to inadequate program design, local implementation difficulties, and the grantee's perception that NCCAN required more direct services; (3) the NLFSI benefitted from stable and credible staff that had already established themselves in the community before the program's implementation; (4) although staff possessed strong outreach skills which served them well in the public awareness campaign, but lacked the skills and background needed to implement direct services; and (5) the NLFSI lacked a clearly defined or effectively developed relationship with its grantee Agency and had difficulty in being acknowledged as a full-fledged member of the community, due to its situation on the campus of a community college located at the edge of the target community. The report also discusses barriers to program implementation and efforts to institutionalize the program, and includes several recommendations in key areas.
The report, Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of Dorchester CARES (5851.7), describes a collaborative project of the Massachusetts Committee for Children and Youth, Inc., Federated Dorchester Neighborhood House, and, by the end of the demonstration period, several other collaborators. The model was designed to demonstrate that through collaboration, advocacy, resource development, education, and services, a community can create opportunities for families to increase their social networks and become more independent and self-sustaining. The report found that (1) Dorchester CARES staff stressed that it was not an agency or a program, but rather a collaborative comprised of member agencies and staff who thought of themselves as a process; (2) the project reflected an ecological approach that combined a psychiatric model and a sociological model (the first was directed toward a "sick parent" and stressed therapy and education, while the second was aimed at the "sick society" and stressed educational and political strategies); (3) over the demonstration period, the program improved family functioning to provide a more nurturing environment for children's development; (4) the program created opportunities for family members to become more independent and self-sustaining and for community members to work together to achieve common goals; (5) the CARES family support program worked by proactively encouraging social networking, increasing nurturing values and skills, and empowering parents to carry out their caregiving roles; and (6) the program was successfully duplicated in several other neighborhoods and was institutionalized in Dorchester.
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of Maine Families (5851.8) describes a collaboration between the urban Cumberland County Child Abuse and Neglect Council (CCCANC) and the rural Franklin County Children's Task Force (FCCTF). Other local community, school, and service organizations joined the two county organizations to identify and address the needs of children and their families. CCCANC implemented a school family center, a media program, a public library discussion series, a teenage parent day care and support center, a drop-in laundry program, a parents' speaker and support group, and a parent education program in a low-income housing development. FCCTF implemented a summer reading program, a resource directory, a parent education program for Head Start-eligible families, parent cooperative support and education groups, and a parent mentoring and home visitation program. In both counties, the project supported community events to reduce the isolation of families and to encourage a sense of support and togetherness. The Maine Families Project evaluation was primarily a qualitative assessment of the reactions of program participants and leaders. Major findings were that (1) the project was guided by an effort to structure interventions based upon what parents said they needed, rather than on what project staff or other agency staff believed they needed; (2) focus groups revealed that few parents believed that they were doing an effective parenting job, and most felt isolated from support and in need of information and assistance; (3) the project emphasized involving business and industry in designing and implementing community programming; and (4) collaboration is enhanced by using a businesslike approach.
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Case Study of I CARE (5851.9) describes a project developed by the Ohio Research Institute on Child Abuse and Prevention to model a prevention program in direct response to the needs and existing resources of the target community in Columbus, Ohio. The conclusions and recommendations were that (1) a prevention model containing all the components specified for this demonstration would be difficult, if not impossible, notwithstanding an annual budget of $200,000; (2) although community-based programs cannot correct all the societal problems leading to child abuse and neglect, it should be aware of their effects; (3) an interdisciplinary task force from the community should be considered mandatory; and (4) the uncertainty of future funding is a major obstacle for demonstration or pilot programs.
Evaluations in Progress
ACF has 71 evaluations in progress, 43 of which relate to the economic independence and productivity of families and 28 to the healthy development of children and families.
Economic Independence and Productivity of Families
Policymakers and program operators recognize that job loss among newly employed welfare recipients is a major barrier to the more general goal of increasing the rate at which recipients obtain employment and leave welfare. A high proportion of welfare recipients who become employed lose their jobs and return to public assistance, often within a few months. The four-site Post-Employment Services Demonstration (5974) addresses this important aspect of a comprehensive welfare-to-work strategy. Demonstrations in Riverside, California; Chicago, Illinois; Portland, Oregon; and San Antonio, Texas; are providing job retention and re-employment services to recently employed Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program participants randomly assigned to receive additional services, which will be provided regardless of continued AFDC receipt. Each site will enroll approximately 500 participants.
The Home Visiting Services Demonstration (5980) evaluation is assessing the effectiveness of the Home Visiting Services Demonstration in three sites--Chicago, Illinois; Dayton, Ohio; and Portland, Oregon--in which first-time teenaged parents on AFDC are required to participate in the JOBS program. Those randomly assigned to receive the treatment are assigned a paraprofessional home visitor. The demonstrations are testing whether adding weekly home visitor services to mandatory JOBS programs will result in a substantial strengthening of the effectiveness of JOBS programs in helping young mothers better support themselves and their children while promoting positive parenting and reductions in repeat childbearing.
The Prenatal and Early Childhood Nurse Home Visitation Program--Replication/Dissemination (6757) project allows for data collection and evaluation of an initiative to replicate and disseminate the nurse home visiting model. The model has been tested through randomized trials and found to be effective in improving outcomes for mothers and their children on a number of important outcome measures, including (1) educational attainment, (2) employment, (3) welfare dependency, (4) parenting attitudes, and (5) subsequent pregnancies. The Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funded a grant to support technical assistance and training to replicate the model in selected Weed and Seed sites. This project supports the evaluation component of the initiative to test the effectiveness of the replication process within normal operating environments.
The New Hope Project (5982) is assessing the effect of subsidizing work for individuals and families that are currently poor. The project offers participants assistance in finding a job, or finding a community service job if they are unable to obtain employment in the private sector after 8 weeks. Wage subsidies are provided to assure an income above the poverty level. Participants are also offered access to affordable health insurance and child care. The offer is designed to be flexible according to individual circumstances. Benefits are phased out as earnings increase to make a smooth transition.
Capitalizing the Bridge from Welfare to Independence (CBWI) (6755) is designed to expand the employment and training services provided by Goodwill Industries by constructing new centers in four counties in southwest Florida and six parishes in southeast Louisiana. Once constructed, the centers are expected to be self-supporting (i.e., no need for continuing public support) by utilizing the business activity and payroll generated by the donated goods business.
Analyzing the Employment and Wage Patterns of Welfare Recipients (6756) will describe the employment and wage patterns of welfare recipients using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and from the evaluation of the Post-Employment Services Demonstration, which operated in California, Illinois, Oregon, and Texas. While many studies have looked at the dynamics of welfare receipt and the reasons people leave welfare, few studies have focused on employment patterns among welfare recipients or wage profiles of welfare recipients who obtain employment. The project will address the circumstances of welfare recipients who find jobs, the employment and wage patterns of welfare recipients who find jobs, and what accounts for welfare recipients' employment and wage patterns.
The Ohio Works First Evaluation (6758) is an assessment of the Ohio Works First Program, which is designed to help families obtain employment and become self-sufficient. It includes provisions for completing a self-sufficiency contract, more generous earned income disregards, a 36-out-of-any-60-month time limit, and whole family sanctions. The evaluation focuses on the following topics: implementation of the core set of services; variations across counties in program design and service delivery; policy changes affecting recipients' attitudes and behaviors toward work participation; the response and reaction of local officials to the new policies and governance structure under welfare reform; the effects on recipients' participation in work activities; the effectiveness of work participation activities in increasing employment levels and self-sufficiency; the most effective components of work participation activities; differences among population groups affected by the program; the groups most at risk of exceeding the time limit; and the impact of specific policy provisions (e.g., time limits and sanctions).
The Examination of State Diversion Programs (6759) project is gathering information from all States on the policies and practices that constitute diversion programs and/or activities designed to divert Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applications. More detailed case studies will be conducted in five to seven States in order to more fully document actual implementation and operation of the diversion policies and activities. A major focus of the study will be on examining linkages between Medicaid enrollment and diversion programs/activities. The study also will examine whether and how local communities and institutions, particularly traditional safety net providers, are affected by diversion programs or activities. The project will address the following issues: (1) how State diversion programs or activities are being conceived, structured, and implemented; (2) the effects of these programs/activities on participants, particularly with respect to Medicaid enrollment; (3) how local community institutions are affected, particularly by changes in Medicaid enrollment rates; and (4) whether strategies for monitoring changes in Medicaid enrollment rates can be developed based on existing data.
The Evaluation of Community-Based Job Retention Programs (6760) is divided into two phases. The first phase consists of a detailed implementation analysis and short-term outcome findings for approximately 700 participants (employed TANF recipients) receiving various mixes of job retention and post-employment services through five community-based neighborhood service organizations in Pittsburgh that received funding from the Pittsburgh Foundation (referred to as the GAPS program). A common set of services will be provided, but within the context of somewhat different existing service delivery systems among the community-based organizations. The second phase, in the second and third years of the project, will include State-funded job retention programs in addition to the GAPS projects. Issues addressed will include the post-employment services most instrumental in helping newly employed TANF recipients maintain employment, the organizational features important to successful delivery of job retention services, and the appropriate duration of services.
The Family Investment Program (FIP) (6761) project continues the evaluation of a welfare reform demonstration combining program changes designed to ease a family's transition from welfare to work with strict requirements that recipients participate in developing and executing a social contract, the Family Investment Agreement (FIA), under Iowa's employment program. The FIA details the steps a family will take to become self-sufficient and sets a time frame for doing so. Families opting not to develop an FIA or not following through with the self-sufficiency plan outlined in the agreement are placed on a 6-month Limited Benefit Plan, which leads to the complete loss of cash assistance for the following 6-month period.
The State Welfare Reform Evaluation Track 2 (6762), complementing a separately funded evaluation being completed on Iowa's Family Investment Program (FIP), consists of a study of repeat Limited Benefit Plan (LBP) assignments and a study of post-employment services. The study of repeat LBP assignments will gather information on why cases are reassigned, how reassigned cases are affected by the immediate cessation of cash assistance in a second LBP, and the time pattern of their return to cash assistance. The study of post-employment services will describe and compare standard and enhanced services and assess their contribution to a client's progress toward self-sufficiency and off cash assistance. It will also document processes for developing, implementing, and delivering post-employment services.
Neighborhood variation in the availability of public and private social services throughout Los Angeles County early in the process of welfare reform will be examined in the Neighbors, Service Providers, and Welfare Reform in Los Angeles County (6763) project. The project will also study how agencies are adapting to the current and anticipated changes in demand for their services as a result of welfare reform. The focus of the inquiry will be specifically on services directed toward children and families.
The Welfare Restructuring Project (WRP) (6764) continues the evaluation of a welfare reform demonstration in Vermont. A key feature of the demonstration is a time limit that requires some adult recipients to participate in community work experience after 15 months (for two-parent families) or 30 months (for single-parent families) of receiving cash assistance. Other policies of the project include asset and disregard changes, which require minor parents with temporary disabilities to participate in rehabilitation and training programs.
Achieving Change for Texans (6765) is the evaluation of Texas' original welfare reform demonstration. It consists of a policy on recipient responsibilities for immunization of children, school attendance, and adhering to a personal responsibility agreement; a policy on differential benefit time limits based on work experience and the need for education; several policy options for individual development accounts and fill-the-gap budgeting; and a one-county pilot offering a check for $1,000 in lieu of regular TANF with no reapplication for benefits for one year. The major study questions are as follows: How does the differential time limit work, taking into consideration work experience and education for setting the limit's duration? Is TANF-One-Time an effective way to help people with temporary needs without making them recipients? Will personal responsibility measures help TANF recipients become self-sufficient faster? Can policies designed to promote and reward work help the process of self-sufficiency?
The Evaluation of Arizona Employing and Moving People Off Welfare and Encouraging Responsibility Program (EMPOWER) (6818) project will address whether there are significant differences between experimental and control groups with respect to: (1) income and employment, (2) program participation, (3) program duration, (4) family structure (including fertility) and stability, (5) children's well-being, and (6) employer health benefit provisions.
The State Welfare Reform Evaluation Project (Jobs First) (6819), initiated in Connecticut, will look at the following program outcomes: work and earnings; welfare receipt and costs; job-retention and recidivism; family composition and stability; the well-being of children; child support and other sources of income; family income and poverty status; the use and perceived quality of program services and child care; material hardship; and attitudes toward work, welfare, and the Jobs First program. The implementation and operation of the program will be explored to determine how, and how well, it was integrated with other agencies, including staff training, changes in office culture, and changes in case management.
The Florida Family Transition Program (FTP) Evaluation Project (6820) will address the following questions: Is the Family Transition Program (FTP) program being implemented as intended? How do program staff across all components of FTP achieve the multiple goals implicit in the program model? How do welfare recipients respond to the new package of rules and services? Who reaches the time limits? What happens prior to and at the point when time limits are reached, and after benefits are terminated? Does FTP increase the rate at which welfare recipients participate in and complete various education and employment activities? Does FTP lead to increases in employment and earnings? Does FTP reduce welfare receipt? Is FTP cost-effective?
In Illinois, the Youth Employment and Training Initiative (YETI) (6821) is studying whether interventions that focus on inner-city youth from welfare families (1,000 students in 3 high schools randomly assigned to a treatment or a control group) will help participants complete high school, obtain and hold regular jobs, avoid the pitfalls of substance abuse or early parenthood, and achieve economic self-sufficiency. The process study centers on whether such a program can be effectively implemented and operated in inner-city schools. A cost-benefit analysis will determine the cost-effectiveness of YETI for government, participants, and the general public.
The Indiana Welfare Reform Evaluation Project (6869) continues the evaluation of the Indiana Manpower Placement and Comprehensive Training Program waiver demonstration now operating under TANF. The study will examine the following questions: Was the reform successfully implemented? In what ways does the new program differ from its predecessor? What organizational characteristics, service features, and aspects of the demonstration environment determine its impacts? How do these reforms impact benefit payments, income, self-sufficiency, children's well-being, and family stability? What are the consequences of the changes on the size and composition of the welfare caseload under TANF? What trends should the State expect in levels of benefit payments and services needed? What happens to individuals after they leave welfare, especially those who reach the time limit? What are the impacts of time limits? How has welfare reform affected welfare entry?
The Maryland Family Investment Program Evaluation (6823) is a statewide process study to examine and document front-line assessment and allocation practices in the State's 24 local jurisdictions. The research questions to be addressed are as follows: How much discretion do county-level workers have in assessing clients and directing them to services that are likely to address their needs? How does worker discretion vary from one county to another? How do county management differences influence assessment practices? How do county front-line assessment practices and differences affect welfare service delivery? Do assessment practices appear to be appropriate to clients' situations and clearly directed to desired TANF outcomes (e.g., successful employment placement before a time limit is reached) and other measures of family well-being?
An eight-county (four urban and four rural), 17,000-case (randomly assigned to treatment or control group) evaluation of the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) (6824) is attempting to answer the following major research questions: What are the effects of financial incentives in employment and welfare receipt? What is the effect of mandatory case management in combination with increased financial incentives? What is the effect of case management services timing? What is the extent of client understanding and participation in MFIP? What is the nature of services being provided and the interactions between clients and staff? What are the net costs of the program from a variety of perspectives?
The Minnesota WorkFIRST Program (Track 2) (6825) project is a comparative evaluation of Minnesota's WorkFIRST with the Minnesota Family Investment Program and STRIDE services (MFIP-S). WorkFIRST uses a rapid labor force attachment strategy versus MFIP-S (the State's TANF program), which represents a progressive labor force attachment model. The project will address the following questions: Will the WorkFIRST program have a greater impact on moving first-time applicants into employment and promoting long-term self-sufficiency or will the concept of "make work pay" strategy of the MFIP-S programs prove more effective in moving people off welfare? Is WorkFIRST more effective in preventing first-time applicants from becoming dependent on public assistance? Do tough sanctions and vendor payment reinforce the WorkFIRST message of personal responsibility?
The Evaluation of the Employment First Program (6826) project in Nebraska includes an impact study featuring a random assignment experiment in Omaha of 4,800 recipient and 2,250 applicant cases, and a subsample of 2,000 randomly assigned cases that will be interviewed in a survey. A process study will be conducted in four sites, including Omaha and Lincoln and will include interviews with a subsample of 180 cases 3 months from the date of initial assignment to determine understanding of the program. Another subsample of 350 cases will be used to collect data not available from the State's data system. The case manager study will begin with a case manager background information questionnaire supported by client outcomes data. High-performing case managers will be identified and interviewed to determine the components of their success.
The New Hampshire Employment and Training Program Process and Outcome Study (6827) will examine the planning, funding, and implementation of the State's welfare reform program and its different components at the State and local levels. This study will examine the following questions: What are the allocated funding levels for planning and ongoing program operation? What are the reactions to, and effects of, the various sorts of interagency collaborations around which the program is designed? What activities has the State conducted to promote culture change among the staff, clients, and community partners? What has been the reaction to the up-front diversion and employment aspects of the program? How are staff implementing assessment and program assignment procedures? Overall, what do the assessment procedures help discover about client barriers and needs? What are the outcomes of measures such as employment rates, length of employment, total earned income, child support collection, total family income, and savings?
The Impact Study of the New Hampshire Employment Program (6828) will involve a pre-post non-experimental design consisting of comparisons between baseline and post-implementation cohorts, caseload modeling techniques, and a pre-post time series analysis of trends on selected welfare-related aggregate measures. Answers will be sought to the following questions: Does New Hampshire's welfare reform program have an impact on State welfare case dynamics, including exit rates, length of benefit receipt, and recidivism? Does the program have an impact on welfare caseloads compared to forecasted caseload values such new welfare case openings, case closings, denials and withdrawals, "child only" cases, earned income cases, and benefit payments? Does the program affect welfare-related measures such as foster care placements, child abuse and neglect, homelessness, paternity establishments, and child support collections?
Data gathered in eight counties in the Evaluation of the North Carolina Work First Program (6829) will be used to address several questions: To what extent can the observed differences in client outcomes between counties be attributable to variations in local economic conditions and unemployment rates? To what extent are the intercounty differences attributable to other contextual factors such as variations in health coverage or demographics of the local population? What political and organizational factors may have affected the results for each county? What are the outcomes of Work First in terms of indicators for self-sufficiency, welfare costs, levels of work activity participation, family structure and stability, and child health and well-being?
In North Dakota, the Training, Education, Employment, and Management (TEEM) Project (6830) will continue the evaluation of the TEEM project, which consolidates TANF and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) into a single cash assistance program. The TEEM project includes social contracts, increased work incentives, sanctions, raised asset limits, and incentives for family stability and marriage. The study will look at the following questions: How are policies, services, and program rules implemented? How are families and county staff affected by the new policies and programs, and does this vary by subpopulation (e.g., ethnicity) within and between the counties? What are the components of the TEEM screening system? What barriers to employment are addressed? How do client participation rates in welfare programs, including employment/training programs and the Child Support Enforcement program, change with the implementation of TEEM? How well does TEEM serve clients with special needs (such as disabled clients, clients with disabled children, and clients with substance abuse or domestic violence problems)?
The Virginia Independence Program (6831) project, an evaluation of TANF implementation, will study the following policy topics: diversionary assistance, family caps, compulsory school attendance, paternity establishment, minor parent residency, required immunizations, savings accounts, 2-year time limits, personal responsibility agreements, expanded earned income disregards, transitional Medicaid, and child care benefits. The major research questions are as follows: What happens to families after they reach the time limit? What are the effects of post-employment and job-retention services offered by the State? What are the implications of the growing number of child-only cases the State is finding on its welfare rolls? What are the issues around players and localities where unique innovations have been introduced in the State? How does diversionary assistance work in a limited number of localities? What are the dynamics of the Virginia caseload over time, under the TANF regime? Are there social health indicators for TANF recipients other than those required by law that would help the State keep abreast of developments as they affect the caseload?
Welfare-to-Work: Monitoring the Impact of Welfare Reform on American Indian Families with Children (6832) is being conducted in Arizona. The State was selected because it has the largest population of American Indians living on reservations and because the 21 reservations differ on a variety of dimensions. The research questions that will be addressed are as follows: What are the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of Indian families with children on welfare? What are the reservation-based or individual barriers to raising the skills and employment potential of Indian parents on welfare? How have the tribal councils prepared themselves to deal with the consequences of welfare reform? How are tribes who plan to administer TANF independently positioning themselves to undertake this task? Will the benefits and outcomes to families vary significantly depending on whether TANF is administered by the State or the tribe? What strategies are time-limited parents using to attain independence? What proportion of those losing eligibility shift to Indian general assistance programs?
The Assessing Effective Welfare-to-Work Strategies for Domestic Violence Victims and Survivors in the Options/Opciones Project (6833) will document the needs of battered girls and women on welfare and will identify those strategies successfully employed to eliminate violence and to provide alternatives to welfare. The research will focus on services provided through Options/Opciones in partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Aid in one community of North Lawndale. Questions to be addressed are as follows. What are the successful strategies that battered women on welfare use to become economically self-sufficient? What are the service needs of battered girls and women on welfare? Which problems serve as the major welfare-to-work barriers for battered girls and women? What combination of services is needed to address the domestic violence and welfare-to-work issues, and in what order? Did these services lead to labor market participation, and for what percentage of women and under what time frame? What are the characteristics of girls and women who successfully remove themselves from situations containing domestic violence? What are the characteristics of the girls and women who successfully enter the labor force versus those who do not?
The purpose of the Welfare Reform Studies and Analyses (Rural TANF) (6834) project is to conduct an in-depth process evaluation of family response to the implementation of welfare reform in three remote rural counties of northeastern Washington State: Stevens, Ferry, and Pend Oreille. Eighty families (40 experimental and 40 comparison) will be interviewed 5 times within 16 months. The families will be selected from the 340 households currently participating in the Comprehensive Child Development Program and who are also enrolled in TANF and eligible to participate in Washington's Work First program. This study will look at several questions: How do families formulate and act upon strategies to attain economic self-sufficiency in an environment of scarcity? What is the relationship of a family's social network to its effectiveness in formulating strategies and successfully carrying out a plan to implement them? How do the actions of community agencies and organizations carrying out the tasks of welfare reform respond to family strategies?
The Jobs-Plus: Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families (6835), a 7½-year demonstration program, is aimed at dramatically increasing employment, earnings, and job retention among working-age residents, a large percentage of whom are on public welfare or are at risk of dependency. Aside from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and ACF, the demonstration is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and three other foundations. The program supports the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of locally-based approaches to providing saturation-level employment opportunities and supportive services for working-age residents of family housing developments in seven cities. It incorporates a combination of state-of-the-art employment, training and supportive services; financial incentives (occasioned by the welfare reform and new public housing policies); and rigorous efforts to rebuild and strengthen the community in support of work.
The purpose of the Management-Focused Welfare Reform Evaluation Data Access and Policy Manual Development (6836) is to develop (1) a software package that organizes public assistance evaluation data into readily accessible formats that can be continually accessed and used for timely and responsive decisionmaking; (2) a policy analysis manual that assists users in understanding how to read and apply continually accessed outcome or impact data to program or policy decisions; and (3) technical documentation for systems personnel and regular users. The manual will assist the user in bridging the gaps between what outcomes and impacts may appear in the sample, what this information suggests, caveats in interpreting the results, and ultimately, what program or policy responses should be considered.
The Welfare Policy Typology Project (6837) is laying the groundwork for a data base-- containing key information about State welfare policies (including TANF), State-funded maintenance-of-effort programs, and federally-funded child care assistance programs--that would be available to the public, probably through the Internet. With the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, there are few, if any, strict Federal requirements for welfare programs, and States are not required to report their policies in any detail, let alone in a uniform format. This will make research on the effects of welfare reform somewhat problematic, because researchers will not have a ready source of information on State policies. Without a standard compilation and classification of State welfare policies, different researchers are likely to classify policies in different ways, making cross-study analysis virtually impossible.
The Wisconsin Pay for Performance/Self-Sufficiency First Evaluation (6838) project will complete an impact evaluation of a statewide work-focused welfare reform demonstration. Within a research site, current public assistance recipients and new applicants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group subject to the Pay for Performance/Self-Sufficiency First (PFP/SSF) provisions, or a control group subject to the regular program rules according to the State's approved AFDC/Medicaid State Plans and approved Food Stamp Plan of Operations. Several questions will be addressed: Do the program policies improve employment rates, length of employment, amount of earned income, hours worked per month, child support collections, total family income, and accumulated savings? Do these policies affect public assistance participation and program costs? Does the program affect participation in employment and training activities? Do these program rules and policies affect marriage and separation rates and use of foster care? Does the demonstration affect the incidence of reported child abuse and neglect and health insurance status of children?
The Partner and Father Involvement in the Lives of Low-Income First-Time Mothers and Their Children (6839) project is investigating the role that fathers and partners play in improving the material, emotional, and developmental well-being of low-income women and children. The study consists of a set of intensive secondary analyses using data from three longitudinal randomized experiments of a prenatal and infancy home visitation program serving first-time mothers from various ethnic and racial groups. Research questions to be addressed are as follows: What is the natural history of father and partner involvement in the lives of low-income women and children? What is the impact of a prenatal and early childhood home visitation program on partner and father involvement? What is the impact of partner and father involvement on women's life course development (e.g., welfare, dependence, subsequent pregnancies, and mental health)? What is the impact of father and partner involvement on children's health and development (e.g., child abuse and neglect, intellectual development, and antisocial behavior)?
The Evaluation of Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN (6840) project will examine the results of changing Los Angeles GAIN, a human resource-focused welfare-to-work program, into Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN, a labor force attachment strategy. Data collection will be primarily from administrative records, with a 2-year survey of approximately 250 experimental and control group cases. The following research hypotheses are expected to be confirmed. It will be possible to convert a large, diverse, mature, education-focused welfare-to-work program to a Work First program. The new program will produce earnings and recipient changes of greater magnitude than the original program. The new program will produce earnings increases and welfare reductions with much smaller expenditures per enrollee than its predecessor. Having profited by experience, Jobs-First GAIN will produce equal or better results than previously evaluated Work First programs. Jobs-First GAIN can effectively operate on a large scale, serving a diverse welfare population. The program will quickly move many recipients into jobs, thereby minimizing the number who reach the TANF time limit unemployed. Finally, the programs' economies of scale will achieve savings for government budgets.
The principal objective of the Front-Line Management and Practice Study (6841) is to evaluate whether front-line workers are implementing the welfare goals and policies established by the States. Using the local TANF office as the unit of analysis, researchers will execute an in-depth process/implementation study relying on observable variables such as assessment processes, allocation of client services, allocation of paid and unpaid work, enforcement of work-related policies, delivery of information, orientation of individual worker practice, office level practices, and implicit messages or signals.
The ACF Office of Community Services (OCS) is supporting evaluations of grantees funded under the Job Opportunities for Low-Income Individuals (JOLI) Program (6430). Assistance is provided to grantees for developing project designs and evaluation plans. For example, the Bridgeport Artisan Center is creating jobs and enterprise opportunities for low-income artisans in the inner-city and surrounding neighborhoods of Bridgeport, Connecticut, an Enterprise Community. Another example is Avenues (Avenidas), a project of the Mi Casa Resource Center for Women in Denver, Colorado, which trains low-income persons--primarily women--for jobs and apprenticeships in highway construction and maintenance. OCS will evaluate the impact of the demonstrations and disseminate the project results to Congress and other interested parties.
During FY 1997, OCS initiated several reports on evaluation results of projects funded under the Demonstration Partnership Program (6883). One report will contain summaries of eight Demonstration Partnership Program (DPP) projects focused on various facets of case management in the delivery of social services. A second report will focus on youth at risk and minority males. A third report will summarize projects in the area of micro-enterprise and self-employment, and homeless individuals and families. In addition, OCS will be examining 21 DPP projects, funded in FY 1994, that are in the final stages of their evaluations.
ACF also has three projects addressing child support enforcement. The first project, the Study of the Impact of the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Program on Avoiding Costs to Public Programs (6842) will include (1) a literature review on CSE and cost avoidance and an annotated bibliography; (2) a small conference on cost avoidance consisting of experts from State and Federal government, academia, and the private sector; (3) an assessment of national micro-simulation models to study the impacts of the CSE program; and (4) an assessment of State administrative data capacity for measuring cost avoidance.
The second project, Evaluation and Reporting on State Access and Visitation Grant Programs (6843), will help define data elements to report on and evaluate State Access and Visitation Grant Programs. The project will also assist States in implementing data elements and reporting as part of the monitoring requirement.
The third project, Partners for Fragile Families (6844), is an assessment of a program to assist low-income young fathers to work with the mothers of their children to share the legal, financial, and emotional responsibilities of parenthood and improve the child support system's interaction with the fathers of fragile families. The National Center for Strategic Non-Profit Planning and Community Leadership in Washington, D.C., will offer technical assistance to service providers in public agencies and community-based organizations, facilitate dialogue and information exchange among public and private partnerships; and identify models and promote public and private partnerships.
Healthy Development of Children and Families
ACF has eight studies under way that address Head Start issues. The Early Head Start Research and Evaluation National Study (3570) is evaluating the effectiveness of the Early Head Start program in 15 diverse communities in 13 States and the District of Columbia. The study is examining child, family, staff, and community outcomes in a sample of 3,400 children and their families who were randomly selected for program and comparison groups while the mothers are pregnant or until the children are 12 months old. Assessments of the children, families, and child-care environments will made when children are 14, 24 and 36 months of age.
The Profiles of Head Start Families: Development of a Head Start Family Information System (3869) project will (1) provide a national description of Head Start family and child characteristics using family-level data, (2) identify Head Start child and family service needs and services received within a given program year, and (3) provide for the regular reporting of data over time so as to permit analyses of changes in Head Start family and child characteristics.
The Evaluation of the Head Start/Public School Early Childhood Transition Demonstration (4393) project is assessing the effectiveness of providing comprehensive, continuous, and coordinated services to Head Start families and children from the time of Head Start enrollment through the third grade in public school. Working in concert with local evaluators, the contractor is developing a set of common data collection instruments to be used across all sites. The project is providing data regarding the effectiveness of the Transition Project models in maintaining gains by children and families while in Head Start. The evaluation and demonstrations were mandated by the Head Start reauthorization legislation. Other studies completed during the ten years prior to 1992--notably the Head Start Transition Study and Developmental Continuity--did not provide information on services extended to children after they left Head Start.
All 41 Family Service Center Demonstrations are being evaluated through a consortium of local evaluators under the Evaluation of the Head Start Family Service Center Demonstrations (4394) project. The contractor is providing coordination, technical assistance, and analysis on common data elements across sites to yield a coordinated and integrated summary of process and impact evaluations conducted by local evaluators. This consortium approach is ensuring a consistent and technically sound method for evaluating these demonstrations of how Head Start can collaborate with community programs to meet the needs of Head Start families dealing with problems such as illiteracy, substance abuse, and unemployment.
The Study of the Characteristics of Families Served by Head Start Migrant Programs (4974) is documenting and describing the implementation of 26 Head Start Migrant programs, providing a profile of Head Start migrant families in the main migratory streams and generating information on unique issues related to serving migrant families through Head Start programs. It is also documenting the availability and coordination of services for Head Start families during their migration. Finally, it will provide a national estimate of the number of eligible migrant children versus the number of those children being served by the Migrant Head Start programs. Findings from the study will be used to inform future policy decisions on Head Start migrant programs, as well as the new Early Head Start program for infants and toddlers.
The Evaluation of Head Start Family Child Care Homes (4975) project is assessing the effectiveness of the 18 Head Start Family Child Care (FCC) Homes demonstration projects funded by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) in FY 1992. The project is assessing the quality of Head Start services provided in FCC homes with regard to Head Start Program Performance Standards. The project is comparing services delivered in FCC homes to those delivered in Head Start centers. Children are randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups. Data is being collected on the cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development of the two cohorts of children participating in the study.
The Descriptive Study of Head Start Bilingual/Multicultural Program Services (5845) aims to identify the number, geographic distribution, and sociodemographic characteristics of the Head Start-eligible population for different cultural and linguistic groups by region and nationally. It will describe the bilingual and multicultural children currently served by the Head Start program. The range of bilingual and multicultural services provided by the Head Start program nationally will be compiled using existing data and a survey of all Head Start programs. Finally, the project will assess the service models, staff training approaches, community partnerships, and administrative plans and processes of 30 Head Start programs that have developed innovative methods for addressing the unique program needs of one or more of the diverse cultural and linguistic groups.
A 3-year Descriptive Study of Families Served by Head Start (6331) will provide crucial policy-relevant information on a nationally representative sample of families served by Head Start in 40 programs across the country. Through a survey and more intensive case study methods, the project will chart family demographics, strengths, needs, expectations, and experiences within Head Start programs, as well as programmatic efforts to join in partnership with families.
The Evaluation of the Comprehensive Child Development Programs (3868) is an assessment of the effectiveness of the first group of 21 Comprehensive Child Development Program grantees. In particular, the study will examine (1) the longitudinal impact of each program model on the development of the participating children and their parents, (2) the effectiveness of the programs in achieving their stated objectives, and (3) the impact of related programs on the delivery of services.
The National Study of Low-Income Child Care (6845) is studying the low-income child care market in 25 communities in 5-7 States with a substudy to examine the license-exempt family care market in 5-7 neighborhoods drawn from these communities. It will provide essential information to help inform the issues surrounding subsidized child care and its implementation by the States, with particular reference to the provisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 over time. It will further examine how significant shifts in welfare policy and programs affect the child care market for welfare recipients and the working poor at the community level. It will study the impact of subsidies on the types, amounts, and quality of child care available; children's child care placements; and family decisionmaking. Additionally, it will report on the largely unknown license-exempt family care market for both preschool and after-school cohorts.
In the Role of Child Care in Low-Income Families' Labor Market Participation (6846), optional research designs to identify and address child care services needed by parents to succeed at work will be developed. A series of stand-alone working papers will be prepared that critically evaluate relevant research related to child care and labor force attachment and that develop the rationale for the factors included in the research designs. Priority outcomes to be incorporated in the research designs include employment, welfare participation, children's development, family well-being, and child-care quality.
The Child Impact Studies (6847) project will augment welfare reform demonstration evaluations in five States (Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, and Florida) to assess the effects of different welfare approaches on children's well-being. The project adds detailed data on children to these evaluations. At each site, treatment groups subject to welfare reform policies will be compared with control groups subject to former AFDC policies. Child outcome data, focusing on ages 5-12, will be collected through surveys and administrative records. The study will address two questions. What are the effects of alternative approaches to welfare reform on child well-being, including school achievement, behavioral problems, and health status? What intervening mechanisms--such as quality and regularity of the home environment, child care arrangements, and parental employment and income-- will affect these outcomes?
Three projects address the issue of homelessness. The first, Evaluation of the Impact of Homelessness on ACYF Programs (4396), will conduct site visits and collect information from service providers for the homeless, administrators, and representatives of local service delivery networks in 40 communities. The project will examine programs supported by ACYF, but will also review non-ACYF-sponsored programs. In addition, the project will conduct a small-scale longitudinal study of homeless people and the impact of services upon them. Five local programs serve as case studies. The results of the review will focus on key strategies for increasing the effectiveness of ACYF programs and on measures to help reduce people's risk of homelessness.
The second, Evaluation of the Transitional Living Program for Homeless Youth (4397), will examine the number and characteristics of homeless youth served by this program. The project will examine the effectiveness of the transitional living program in alleviating the immediate problems of homeless youth and its success in preparing homeless youth for self-sufficiency and in helping them decide upon future education, employment, and independent living. The ability of the program to strengthen family relationships and to encourage intrafamilial problem solving through counseling and developing self-sufficient skills will be assessed.
The third, Evaluation of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs--A Follow-Up Study (4361), will examine the impact and effect of the Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) shelter program on youth and review the policy, program, and service delivery issues that impede or facilitate RHY shelter goals. The study will obtain information from 23 sites on runaway and homeless youth shelters and services and assess the impact and effect of the RHY program from the perspective of program administrators and service providers. It will identify the policy, program, and service delivery issues that influence whether or not RHY shelter goals are met.
Factors Related to Gang Membership Resistance (5042.1) is studying gangs from two contrasting Los Angeles communities--one with higher-than-average Hispanic and African-American gang activity, and the other with lower-than-average gang activity. The project is designed to increase understanding of how youth in urban areas with high levels of street gang activity avoid gang involvement. The project will compare gang members with youth who do not belong to a gang in different urban settings, such as a community with high gang activity versus one with low gang activity. Individuals and community variables and characteristics in the contrasting sites will be analyzed.
In Prevention of Foster Care Placement of Children at Risk for Domestic Violence (4378), the Family Advocate Project (FAP) is building on existing programs operated by the Family Intervention Center of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, which provide medical and psychosocial evaluations to battered women and their children. The project is studying 150 mothers assigned to either a study or a control group. Study-group mothers receive intensive services in the areas of counseling, housing assistance, and legal, health care, and social services. The project is looking at ways to alleviate the emotional trauma of battered women and explore whether the provision of support services to increase self-esteem and coping skills can prevent out-of-home placement or reduce the length of time children spend in foster care.
The National Child Welfare Research Center: University of Chicago (4390.1), located in the Chapin Hall Center for Children, is conducting research on the following issues: (1) research and management uses of computerized child welfare data; (2) service and policy issues concerning in-home and community-based care; (3) the uses, consequences, and costs of in-home care; and (4) ways to apply knowledge and research about child development to children's policies. The Center holds conferences and sponsors a child development fellowship in conjunction with the Society for Research on Adolescence. Publications will include research syntheses, a training manual, and a report on national data issues.
The National Child Welfare Research Center: University of California at Berkeley (4390.2), located in the School of Social Welfare, will conduct projects to examine (1) child abuse and child welfare; (2) family preservation and maintenance; (3) foster care and adoption; (4) drug and AIDS-affected children; and (5) the organization, financing, and evaluation of child welfare services. The center serves as a knowledge-building and information-disseminating resource for improved child welfare services.
The National Study of Outcomes for Children Placed in Foster Care with Relatives (5846) is examining the outcomes for and associated costs of children and families in the various configurations of relative foster care compared to the configurations of non-relative foster care. Information obtained in an initial nine-State survey is being used to design a national study on the outcomes of children placed in relative foster care compared to the outcomes for those placed in non-relative foster care.
The aim of How Decisions to Change the Case Plan Goal Are Initiated (6848) is to conduct a 3-year study of children entering State custody as infants that will identify factors that facilitate or delay changes in the case plan goal leading to permanency. Data will be collected through in-depth interviews with caseworkers responsible for selected cases. Products of this study will include three major reports and policy and practice recommendations for facilitating permanence for children entering State custody as infants.
The Factors Related to the Quality of Family Foster Care (6849) study seeks to determine the quality of the foster care experience and the factors that influence it, based on data collected on a sample of 500 families whose children spent time in foster care in Wayne County (Detroit) Michigan during 1993. The study examines the relationship between agency and service characteristics (e.g., private versus public agency, caseload size, staff turnover, continuity of case services, provision of family preservation services, and use of kinship care) and the quality of foster care. Five aspects of foster care will be assessed: the health and well-being of the child while in care, incidence of maltreatment in care, family continuity, number of placements by type, and duration of care and recidivism.
The Assessing the Quality of Foster Family Care: An Initiative for the Integration of Research and Practice (6850) project aims to fill the gap in the literature on foster family care by examining the individual characteristics of foster parents across domains, as well as the environmental characteristics of the home. Participants (240 families) will be drawn from the pool of foster parents and children in Maryland's Prince George's and Montgomery counties. The project will examine the following questions: (1) Does the current pool of foster parents possess the characteristics to meet the needs of the foster child population? (2) What is the appropriate role of relative foster homes? (3) How does ethnicity relate to other characteristics of foster family homes?
Project REFRESH: Research and Evaluation of Foster Children's Reception into Environmentally Supportive Homes (6851) seeks to discover the effect of the everyday occurrences in foster family homes. Research indicates that foster children aged 9-18 may perceive themselves as outsiders to their foster families. Some birth children in foster families perceive a foster child as an intruder. Many foster caregivers have difficulties balancing parenting and caregiving roles, which impacts quality, duration, and level of birth and foster children's care. Assessment tools and evaluation protocols are needed to examine factors affecting quality and satisfaction with care in kinship/non-kinship placements. The major research goal of this 3-year study by Oregon State University is to develop a model to assess a child's integration into a foster family.
The purpose of the Evaluating Quality of Out-of-Home Care in Kinship Foster Families (6852) project is to identify criteria for assessing the quality of out-of-home care provided to children in kinship care homes and to develop objective items that use these criteria to effectively measure the quality of kinship care. Instruments to be developed by the University of Illinois-Urbana will measure the quality of the kinship family home, contextual factors related to kinship family functioning, and indicators of child functioning in the home.
Two studies address issues of family preservation and family support. The first, the National Evaluation of Family Support Programs (5848), is a comprehensive review of what is currently known about family support programs and their effects. The project will include several studies to fill gaps in understanding about family support programs and their effects, and to synthesize the results with the results of the earlier review. The review conducted in the first year will guide the formulation of a research strategy for the remaining four years of the project. Up to ten program evaluations will be designed and implemented.
The second, the Family Preservation and Family Support Services (FP/FS) Implementation Study (5975), examines the FP/FS implementation process across States and communities and among different stakeholders over time. It examines the process broadly over all 50 States, and in depth in 10 States and 20 communities. The first component of the study analyzes and synthesizes first-year applications and examines State planning and use of FP/FS funds, e.g., the nature of the planning process, the involvement of various stakeholders, and decisions about fund allocation. The study will assist ACYF in its joint planning efforts with States by providing feedback on States' progress in implementing FP/FS legislation.
The purpose of the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Families in the Child Welfare System (6748) is to describe the outcomes experienced by children and families who come to the attention of the child welfare system, and to gain an understanding of the factors, including system-level and service factors as well as child and family characteristics, that contribute to those outcomes. A nationally representative sample of 6,000 children will be sampled upon entry into the child welfare system. Data will be collected during the first year after entry and at three annual followup interviews. Information will be obtained from the children and their caregivers, caseworkers, and other child welfare agency personnel and service providers.