All welfare-to-work programs increased participation in employment-related activities, but had little impact on total combined income (as earnings were substituted for public assistance). Employment– focused programs generally produced larger employment gains than educational programs. Portland, Oregon’s program, which tailored education versus employment first to client needs, outperformed the other 10 programs in employment and earnings gains, as well as in return on investment to the government. However, the researchers noted that these results might have been affected by factors such as the favorable employment climate in Portland. Control group members changed their work behavior as well: by the end of the five-year study period, most had participated in an employment- related activity, without the welfare-to-work program assistance. The welfare-to-work programs had minimal effects on health insurance coverage, family structure, or on young children’s well-being, and a small negative effect for adolescent members of program families. On the positive side, program participants were less likely to report physical abuse during the last year of follow-up. The report also provided a cost analysis showing that net costs were higher for education-focused programs and for clients who already had high school credentials. Reduction of welfare payments was offset by program costs, and only three programs—all employment-focused—produced gains to government budgets.


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