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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: Michalopoulos, Charles
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    We know how to get low-income people to go to work: build a strong and growing economy filled with jobs, make work pay through generous tax credits and welfare programs that allow working people to keep more of their benefits, and implement programs with employment and training services and time-limited welfare benefits to encourage people to work. However, we know little about the types of policies that will help people stay employed and increase their earnings over time. This paper seeks to partially fill the gap by pulling together recent evidence on how pre-employment services and financial work incentives can promote sustained employment and earnings growth.

    The paper describes results from 13 programs begun since the early 1990s that share several important characteristics. First, each tested a policy designed to help or encourage single-parent welfare recipients to work. Second, each program now has enough information to assess whether the programs promoted sustained employment and promoted growth in hourly wages or quarterly earnings. Finally, each of the programs...

    We know how to get low-income people to go to work: build a strong and growing economy filled with jobs, make work pay through generous tax credits and welfare programs that allow working people to keep more of their benefits, and implement programs with employment and training services and time-limited welfare benefits to encourage people to work. However, we know little about the types of policies that will help people stay employed and increase their earnings over time. This paper seeks to partially fill the gap by pulling together recent evidence on how pre-employment services and financial work incentives can promote sustained employment and earnings growth.

    The paper describes results from 13 programs begun since the early 1990s that share several important characteristics. First, each tested a policy designed to help or encourage single-parent welfare recipients to work. Second, each program now has enough information to assess whether the programs promoted sustained employment and promoted growth in hourly wages or quarterly earnings. Finally, each of the programs was studied by MDRC using a rigorous experimental research design that many people think gives the most reliable information about the effects of new policies. In these studies, people were assigned at random to either a program group which was required to participate in an employment and training program or was offered a financial work incentive, or a control group which was not. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brooks, Jennifer L.; Hair, Elizabeth C.; Zaslow, Martha J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    With the passage of the 1996 welfare reform law, numerous commentators expressed concern about what “ending welfare as we know it” would mean for the young children of welfare recipients. These children, after all, would be experiencing significant changes in their everyday lives as their mothers, who had relied on public assistance to support their families, entered or prepared to enter the work force. However, little concern was expressed about how the adolescent children of welfare recipients might fare as a result of the changes ushered in by the historic new legislation.

    Despite the expectation that older children would be relatively less affected by welfare reform than their younger counterparts, recent experimental evaluations of welfare-to-work programs suggest that the adolescent sons and daughters in welfare households are indeed affected when their parents are assigned to participate in these programs. What’s more, it seems that these young people may be negatively affected by this participation.

    In this Research Brief, we describe these negative impacts...

    With the passage of the 1996 welfare reform law, numerous commentators expressed concern about what “ending welfare as we know it” would mean for the young children of welfare recipients. These children, after all, would be experiencing significant changes in their everyday lives as their mothers, who had relied on public assistance to support their families, entered or prepared to enter the work force. However, little concern was expressed about how the adolescent children of welfare recipients might fare as a result of the changes ushered in by the historic new legislation.

    Despite the expectation that older children would be relatively less affected by welfare reform than their younger counterparts, recent experimental evaluations of welfare-to-work programs suggest that the adolescent sons and daughters in welfare households are indeed affected when their parents are assigned to participate in these programs. What’s more, it seems that these young people may be negatively affected by this participation.

    In this Research Brief, we describe these negative impacts and explore the possible explanations for these unexpected findings in light of available data and the research literature on child development. We conclude with key issues for policy makers to take into account when considering policies to support adolescent development in families affected by welfare reform. This brief is one of a series being prepared by researchers at Child Trends to help inform the public debate surrounding the 2002 reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, the centerpiece of the 1996 welfare law. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Mikelson, Kelly S.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    Since the passage of PRWORA, there have been numerous efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of TANF and related programs and subpopulations. Some of the many issues being studied and described in this annotated bibliography include:

    • - The well-being of former welfare recipients;
    • - Evaluating various Welfare-to-Work strategies;
    • - Employment retention and advancement initiatives;
    • - Rural welfare initiatives;
    • - Programs designed to serve noncustodial parents;
    • - Hard-to-serve welfare recipients and barriers to self-sufficiency;
    • - Changes in the welfare caseload; and
    • - Welfare time limits
    • - TANF reauthorization.

    (author abstract)

    Since the passage of PRWORA, there have been numerous efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of TANF and related programs and subpopulations. Some of the many issues being studied and described in this annotated bibliography include:

    • - The well-being of former welfare recipients;
    • - Evaluating various Welfare-to-Work strategies;
    • - Employment retention and advancement initiatives;
    • - Rural welfare initiatives;
    • - Programs designed to serve noncustodial parents;
    • - Hard-to-serve welfare recipients and barriers to self-sufficiency;
    • - Changes in the welfare caseload; and
    • - Welfare time limits
    • - TANF reauthorization.

    (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: Greenberger, Debbie; Anselmi, Robert
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    The passage, in 1996, of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act gave states latitude to make substantial changes in their welfare policies. The time limits and stricter work requirements that states imposed have received the greatest public attention, but the vast majority of states have also used their new freedom to change their “earnings disregard” policies, which allow welfare recipients to earn more even as they remain on the rolls. These changes have been designed to provide additional financial incentives to encourage work and to increase income for families in which the parent does work. Recent research has found strong support for the earnings supplements: The additional income not only encourages work; it also helps young children perform better in school.

    States have increased welfare recipients’ financial incentives to work in a variety of ways. Some allow welfare recipients to keep their entire welfare check while they remain on welfare, although most provide less generous incentives for shorter periods of time. Some states...

    The passage, in 1996, of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act gave states latitude to make substantial changes in their welfare policies. The time limits and stricter work requirements that states imposed have received the greatest public attention, but the vast majority of states have also used their new freedom to change their “earnings disregard” policies, which allow welfare recipients to earn more even as they remain on the rolls. These changes have been designed to provide additional financial incentives to encourage work and to increase income for families in which the parent does work. Recent research has found strong support for the earnings supplements: The additional income not only encourages work; it also helps young children perform better in school.

    States have increased welfare recipients’ financial incentives to work in a variety of ways. Some allow welfare recipients to keep their entire welfare check while they remain on welfare, although most provide less generous incentives for shorter periods of time. Some states have introduced financial incentives outside the welfare system, through such policies as Earned Income Tax Credits, to avoid having recipients approach time limits faster by combining work and welfare. Some have introduced bonuses for welfare recipients who remain employed for a specified period of time. This guide summarizes the research evidence that supports the use of financial incentives, and it offers advice on the form financial incentives might take and how generous they might be made.

    The information in this guide may be more important now than ever. When Congress reauthorizes the nation’s welfare policy in 2003, it is likely to require even more recipients to work and require them to work more hours per week. The use of the policies described in this guide can help states meet the new goals as well as reduce poverty and benefit children. Although most states are suffering severe budget shortfalls as this guide is published, Making Work Pay discusses ways to make earning supplements more efficient and less costly. As the economy rebounds in the coming months and years — and state budgets recover accordingly — the guide will remain a useful resource for those who are thinking about how to use new funds to help families. (author abstract)

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