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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Shirk, Martha; Bennett, Neil G.; Aber, J. Lawrence
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 1999

    In Lives on the Line, Martha Shirk, Neil G. Bennett, and NCCP Director J. Lawrence Aber meld affecting personal profiles with sophisticated demographic analysis to create a vivid portrait of what life is like for more than 14 million American children growing up below the poverty line. In personal profiles of ten families across the nation, from a Pacific Islander family in Hawaii to a homeless family in a wealthy New York City suburb, award-winning journalist Martha Shirk depicts the realities of life for children below the poverty line. She takes readers deep into the lives of families in poverty—lives sometimes marked by childhood abuse, parental loss, and long-term violence—and with each family explores their prospects for moving above the poverty threshold. Along the way, Shirk finds amazing resilience, resourcefulness, and strength of spirit in many of these poor families.

    Neil G. Bennett, Director of Demography for the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University (NCCP), shatters many commonly held stereotypes by analyzing Census Bureau...

    In Lives on the Line, Martha Shirk, Neil G. Bennett, and NCCP Director J. Lawrence Aber meld affecting personal profiles with sophisticated demographic analysis to create a vivid portrait of what life is like for more than 14 million American children growing up below the poverty line. In personal profiles of ten families across the nation, from a Pacific Islander family in Hawaii to a homeless family in a wealthy New York City suburb, award-winning journalist Martha Shirk depicts the realities of life for children below the poverty line. She takes readers deep into the lives of families in poverty—lives sometimes marked by childhood abuse, parental loss, and long-term violence—and with each family explores their prospects for moving above the poverty threshold. Along the way, Shirk finds amazing resilience, resourcefulness, and strength of spirit in many of these poor families.

    Neil G. Bennett, Director of Demography for the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University (NCCP), shatters many commonly held stereotypes by analyzing Census Bureau data to show which American children are most likely to be poor. He reports, for instance, that over 60 percent of poor young children have at least one employed parent, that most poor young children live in suburban or rural areas, and that a parent's graduation from high school is insufficient to insure against poverty. Among his most startling findings are that in the last two decades, the Young Child Poverty Rate grew significantly faster in the suburbs than in urban or rural areas, and that it grew much faster among whites than among blacks.

    J. Lawrence Aber, a nationally recognized expert in child development and social policy, describes the effects of poverty on child development and showcases proven strategies for preventing or reducing child poverty. He also shows us that it is in our national self-interest to address the problem of child poverty by making a smart investment in America's future.

    As a powerful portrait of the effects of poverty on America's children and families, Lives on the Line narrows the gap between “them” and “us.” It will change the way you think about the poor. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Pindus, Nancy; Koralek, Robin; Martinson, Karin; Trutko, John
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    The policy context for both welfare programs and employment and training programs operated by the workforce development system has changed dramatically in the past few years.  The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 requires welfare agencies to focus more than in the past on moving welfare recipients into employment.  PRWORA provides funding to welfare agencies in the form of a block grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to support efforts to achieve this objective.  The need to move more TANF clients into work activities and jobs means that TANF agencies need to expand or develop structural and organizational arrangements that make this possible, including coordinating with the workforce development system.

    The Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Grants Program provides additional funding to serve welfare recipients, but the resources flow through the employment and training system, now commonly called the workforce development system.  WtW creates new incentives for the workforce development system to coordinate with the...

    The policy context for both welfare programs and employment and training programs operated by the workforce development system has changed dramatically in the past few years.  The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 requires welfare agencies to focus more than in the past on moving welfare recipients into employment.  PRWORA provides funding to welfare agencies in the form of a block grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to support efforts to achieve this objective.  The need to move more TANF clients into work activities and jobs means that TANF agencies need to expand or develop structural and organizational arrangements that make this possible, including coordinating with the workforce development system.

    The Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Grants Program provides additional funding to serve welfare recipients, but the resources flow through the employment and training system, now commonly called the workforce development system.  WtW creates new incentives for the workforce development system to coordinate with the welfare system on behalf of welfare recipients.  The workforce development system is also changing, moving towards universal access to employment related services and the use of technology to serve job seekers and employers better.

    States and localities are responding to this dynamic environment in different ways, and their responses reflect historical relationships as well as current policy objectives.  This study builds on earlier research in the area of service coordination and integration, and provides a current description of local operational interaction between welfare and workforce development programs.  It is based on a review of the literature and site visits to twelve localities in six states.  The main intent is to add to the understanding about how welfare recipients receive employment-related services.  The study identifies different approaches to coordination, the advantages of coordination for clients, and factors that promote and impede coordination. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gennetian, Lisa A.; Duncan, Greg J.; Knox, Virginia W.; Vargas, Wanda G.; Clark-Kauffman, Elizabeth; London, Andrew S.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    The federal law that overhauled the nation's welfare system in 1996 aimed to break the cycle of poverty through its effects not only on welfare recipients but also on their children. While it was feared that some of the policy changes might harm young children, it was generally believed that older children would benefit from new community norms and the presence of working parents as role models. But analyses from several MDRC studies released in recent years suggest that the new policies did not bring benefits to adolescents. With reauthorization of the 1996 law now under debate, the Next Generation project — an innovative collaboration among MDRC and other leading research institutions — has produced this research synthesis, the first comprehensive and systematic look at how welfare and work policies targeted at low-income parents have influenced their adolescent children. Using meta-analytic techniques, the work integrates survey data collected from parents in eight MDRC studies of 16 different welfare and employment programs, focusing on children aged 12 to 18 when the surveys...

    The federal law that overhauled the nation's welfare system in 1996 aimed to break the cycle of poverty through its effects not only on welfare recipients but also on their children. While it was feared that some of the policy changes might harm young children, it was generally believed that older children would benefit from new community norms and the presence of working parents as role models. But analyses from several MDRC studies released in recent years suggest that the new policies did not bring benefits to adolescents. With reauthorization of the 1996 law now under debate, the Next Generation project — an innovative collaboration among MDRC and other leading research institutions — has produced this research synthesis, the first comprehensive and systematic look at how welfare and work policies targeted at low-income parents have influenced their adolescent children. Using meta-analytic techniques, the work integrates survey data collected from parents in eight MDRC studies of 16 different welfare and employment programs, focusing on children aged 12 to 18 when the surveys were conducted; it also draws on ethnographic case studies to flesh out the quantitative findings.

    In each study, some parents were randomly assigned to a program that included some combination of three key policies — mandatory employment activities, earnings supplements, and time limits on welfare receipt — while others were randomly assigned to a control group that was neither eligible for the program's services nor subject to its requirements. Random assignment ensures that any differences that emerged between the two groups — or their children - are attributable to the program. Although the studies examined programs that began operating before 1996, the three policies examined here have been adopted, in various combinations, in many states' programs since welfare reform was passed. Thus, this is the best body of evidence to date concerning how low-income adolescents fare as a result of policies aimed at increasing their parents' employment. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Zaslow, Martha J. ; Moore, Kristin A.; Brooks, Jennifer L.; Morris, Pamela A.; Tout, Kathryn; Redd, Zakia A.; Emig, Carol A.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2002

    Even prior to passage of federal welfare reform, many demonstration programs anticipated key features of the 1996 law, such as "work-first" strategies, time limits on welfare receipt, and financial incentives to work. Over the past decade, 10 experimental evaluations of these programs have extended their studies to examine the impacts on children. This article provides a synthesis of findings from the first seven of these studies to release results concerning child impacts. Key observations include the following:

    • Across the different types of welfare-to-work programs examined, researchers found neither widespread harm nor widespread benefit to young children, but some significant impacts did occur.
    • Favorable impacts tended to occur in programs that improved family economic status or maternal education, but these programs still did not bring children to the level of national norms for positive child development.
    • Unfavorable impacts tended to occur when families did not show economic progress or when their economic situation worsened, when the children...

    Even prior to passage of federal welfare reform, many demonstration programs anticipated key features of the 1996 law, such as "work-first" strategies, time limits on welfare receipt, and financial incentives to work. Over the past decade, 10 experimental evaluations of these programs have extended their studies to examine the impacts on children. This article provides a synthesis of findings from the first seven of these studies to release results concerning child impacts. Key observations include the following:

    • Across the different types of welfare-to-work programs examined, researchers found neither widespread harm nor widespread benefit to young children, but some significant impacts did occur.
    • Favorable impacts tended to occur in programs that improved family economic status or maternal education, but these programs still did not bring children to the level of national norms for positive child development.
    • Unfavorable impacts tended to occur when families did not show economic progress or when their economic situation worsened, when the children were adolescents, and - unexpectedly - when the families were believed to be at lower risk for long-term welfare receipt.

    Thus, although impacts were not widespread, these programs did have the potential to affect children for both better and worse across a range of developmental outcomes. The authors conclude that these findings underscore the importance of strengthening program approaches to enhance developmental outcomes for children in families being served by the welfare system. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bird, Kisha; Okoh, Clarence
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2016

    Employment is an important part of youth development and the successful progression into young adulthood. Young people learn important communication and social skills, and are also exposed to careers, workplace culture, and opportunities to hone problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Research reinforces the importance of early work experience, especially for poor and low-income youth. Youth employment strategies, including summer jobs, paid internships, and year-round subsidized work experiences, can be linked to a broader approach to address poverty. Children who are born poor—and are persistently poor—are significantly more likely than those not poor at birth to experience poverty in adulthood, unemployment, and underemployment. Persistent childhood poverty (living below the federal poverty level for at least half of one’s childhood) is prevalent among Black children. To lift children—particularly children and youth of color—out of poverty, they must have access to work and a career path leading into adulthood. Beyond eventual economic security and social mobility, there are...

    Employment is an important part of youth development and the successful progression into young adulthood. Young people learn important communication and social skills, and are also exposed to careers, workplace culture, and opportunities to hone problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Research reinforces the importance of early work experience, especially for poor and low-income youth. Youth employment strategies, including summer jobs, paid internships, and year-round subsidized work experiences, can be linked to a broader approach to address poverty. Children who are born poor—and are persistently poor—are significantly more likely than those not poor at birth to experience poverty in adulthood, unemployment, and underemployment. Persistent childhood poverty (living below the federal poverty level for at least half of one’s childhood) is prevalent among Black children. To lift children—particularly children and youth of color—out of poverty, they must have access to work and a career path leading into adulthood. Beyond eventual economic security and social mobility, there are many short and long-term benefits to youth employment. Employed teens are more likely to graduate high school, and recent research studies suggest that employment during the summer months can prevent involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Moreover, employment in the teen years is a significant predictor of successful attachment to the labor market into adulthood. It is also linked to increased earnings in the short-term and later in life. In fact, older youth have almost a 100% chance of being employed in a given year if they have worked more than 40 weeks in the previous year. (Author introduction)

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