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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: Blagg, Kristin; Chingos, Matthew; Corcoran, Sean P.; Cordes, Sarah A.; Cowen, Joshua; Denice, Patrick ; Gross, Betheny; Lincove, Jane Arnold ; Sattin-Bajaj, Carolyn; Schwartz, Amy Ellen; Valant, Jon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    How to get to school is an important issue for families who want to send their children to schools outside their neighborhood and for education policymakers seeking to implement school choice policies that mitigate educational inequality. We analyze travel times between the homes and schools of nearly 190,000 students across five large US cities that offer a significant amount of educational choice:  Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC. We find: 

    • Despite wide variation across cities in student transportation policy, there are similar student transportation patterns across our cities. Most students live within a 20-minute drive from home to their school. Older students travel farther to school than younger students, and black students travel farther than white or Hispanic students. Students who are not low income tend to travel farther than their low-income peers.
    • Particularly among older students, those enrolled in traditional public schools tend to travel as far, or in some cases farther, than those attending charter schools....

    How to get to school is an important issue for families who want to send their children to schools outside their neighborhood and for education policymakers seeking to implement school choice policies that mitigate educational inequality. We analyze travel times between the homes and schools of nearly 190,000 students across five large US cities that offer a significant amount of educational choice:  Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, DC. We find: 

    • Despite wide variation across cities in student transportation policy, there are similar student transportation patterns across our cities. Most students live within a 20-minute drive from home to their school. Older students travel farther to school than younger students, and black students travel farther than white or Hispanic students. Students who are not low income tend to travel farther than their low-income peers.
    • Particularly among older students, those enrolled in traditional public schools tend to travel as far, or in some cases farther, than those attending charter schools.
    • Access to “high quality” high schools varies across cities, race and ethnicity, and on the quality measure used. However, ninth-grade students, on average, tend to live about a 10-minute drive from a “high quality” high school.
    • Access to a car can significantly increase the number of schools available to a family. Typical travel times to school by public transit are significantly greater than by car, especially in cities with less efficient transit networks.

    Just as there are inequalities and differences in students’ academic performance across these cities, we see parallel inequalities and differences in the distances that students travel and in the availability of nearby school options. Experiments in targeted policy interventions, such as implementing transportation vouchers for low-income parents of very young students, using yellow buses on circulating routes, or changing the way that school siting decisions are made, might yield pragmatic solutions that further level the playing field for a city’s most disadvantaged students. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Hahn, Heather ; Coffey, Amelia; Pratt, Eleanor
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    The District of Columbia is changing its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program to promote better long-term outcomes for families and children. The most recent change, implemented April 2018, is an end to the five-year limit for full benefits. Previously, families who received benefits received reduced cash assistance after 60 months in the program. They will now receive the full amount.

    This report features the perspectives of 19 women in DC who shared their experiences raising children in poverty and receiving reduced TANF cash assistance because they had exceeded the five-year limit at the time of our January 2018 interviews. Their reflections can help develop a clearer picture of why people turn to TANF, how they experience the program, and how the program can help them support their families and their children’s futures. They can also help other jurisdictions better understand the experiences of women receiving TANF cash assistance to reshape policies, services, and practices to better meet families’ needs.

    A snapshot of...

    The District of Columbia is changing its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program to promote better long-term outcomes for families and children. The most recent change, implemented April 2018, is an end to the five-year limit for full benefits. Previously, families who received benefits received reduced cash assistance after 60 months in the program. They will now receive the full amount.

    This report features the perspectives of 19 women in DC who shared their experiences raising children in poverty and receiving reduced TANF cash assistance because they had exceeded the five-year limit at the time of our January 2018 interviews. Their reflections can help develop a clearer picture of why people turn to TANF, how they experience the program, and how the program can help them support their families and their children’s futures. They can also help other jurisdictions better understand the experiences of women receiving TANF cash assistance to reshape policies, services, and practices to better meet families’ needs.

    A snapshot of women’s personal reflections on TANF in DC

    The women we spoke with had participated in DC’s TANF program for at least five years. Each woman’s story is unique, but together, they paint a picture of mothers wanting to support their children and offer them bright futures.

    Unable to maintain stable, well-paid employment and with limited social supports, they had no choice but to turn to TANF cash assistance and other public supports. They wanted to find jobs that would offer stability and the ability to support their families without public assistance. For the most part, they felt that the employment services provided through TANF did not help them move toward this goal, although some have noticed recent program improvements.

    They explained the challenges (e.g., transportation, flexible child care arrangements, and limited qualifications) that make it difficult for them to find and keep stable jobs with family-sustaining wages. They described the vital role TANF cash assistance plays in providing for their families, but they also described their often-negative experiences at TANF service centers, including hostile relationships with eligibility staff.

    The women began receiving TANF before the program’s recent changes, and when we spoke with them, they were receiving reduced cash assistance because of the time limit on receiving the full benefit amount. Many of them expected that once they began receiving the full benefit amount, their families would have an easier time getting by, but they worried that the policy would change again in the future.

    The DC Department of Human Services is committed to service improvements

    The DC Department of Human Services (DHS), which administers TANF, has made various service improvements in the past several years, and more extensive changes are under way. Two years ago, the DHS surveyed its customers and began making changes based on their recommendations. The department shifted away from a one-size-fits-all model of service delivery to using a coaching model, developing individual plans with customers, increasing cash assistance, and improving other services.

    The department is reshaping its services and changing its policies because it believes that if families are supported with more income for children, parents can focus on achieving their goals. Further, the DHS is committed to continuous improvement and has listened to and acted on the recommendations of the people who use their services. (Author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Fein, David; Hamadyk, Jill
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This report assesses the implementation and early impacts of Year Up, a national sectoral training program for young adults aged 18-24. Year Up aims to help low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete training leading to employment in high-demand, well-paying occupations. It is among nine programs Abt Associates is evaluating in Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE)—a study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families. Operated by an organization of the same name, Year Up provides young adults with six months of full-time training in the IT and financial service sectors followed by six-month internships at major firms. The full-time program provides extensive supports—including weekly stipends—and puts a heavy emphasis on the development of professional and technical skills. Using a rigorous research design, the study found that young adults with access to Year Up had higher average quarterly earnings in the sixth and seventh quarters after random assignment—the confirmatory outcome selected to gauge Year Up’s overall success for this report....

    This report assesses the implementation and early impacts of Year Up, a national sectoral training program for young adults aged 18-24. Year Up aims to help low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete training leading to employment in high-demand, well-paying occupations. It is among nine programs Abt Associates is evaluating in Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE)—a study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families. Operated by an organization of the same name, Year Up provides young adults with six months of full-time training in the IT and financial service sectors followed by six-month internships at major firms. The full-time program provides extensive supports—including weekly stipends—and puts a heavy emphasis on the development of professional and technical skills. Using a rigorous research design, the study found that young adults with access to Year Up had higher average quarterly earnings in the sixth and seventh quarters after random assignment—the confirmatory outcome selected to gauge Year Up’s overall success for this report. Compared to control group members who were not able to access the program, treatment group members also were more likely to report that their classes used active learning methods, taught life skills, and were relevant to their lives and careers. Persisting over a three-year follow-up period, Year Up’s earnings impacts are the largest reported to date for workforce programs tested using a random assignment design. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Ferguson, Daniel
    Reference Type: White Papers
    Year: 2017

    This Research-to-Policy Resource List provides a comprehensive list of city universal preschool initiative evaluations and research in the Research Connections collection. To count as universal, a city's program must aim to eventually provide universal access to publicly-funded preschool for all four-year-olds using at least some city funds, even if it does not currently achieve universal access. Some well-known programs do not meet these criteria, either because they are the city-based implementation of a state universal preschool program (Tulsa, Oklahoma) or because they do not aim for universal access (Chicago's Child-Parent Centers; Salt Lake City, Utah). Cities with universal preschool programs were identified in recent reviews by the American Institutes for Research and the Rand Corporation, as well as in news reports. A number of city programs have not produced evaluations or research publications or are still in the planning or early implementation stages, including Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; and West...

    This Research-to-Policy Resource List provides a comprehensive list of city universal preschool initiative evaluations and research in the Research Connections collection. To count as universal, a city's program must aim to eventually provide universal access to publicly-funded preschool for all four-year-olds using at least some city funds, even if it does not currently achieve universal access. Some well-known programs do not meet these criteria, either because they are the city-based implementation of a state universal preschool program (Tulsa, Oklahoma) or because they do not aim for universal access (Chicago's Child-Parent Centers; Salt Lake City, Utah). Cities with universal preschool programs were identified in recent reviews by the American Institutes for Research and the Rand Corporation, as well as in news reports. A number of city programs have not produced evaluations or research publications or are still in the planning or early implementation stages, including Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; and West Sacramento, California. The city universal preschool initiatives that have produced research or evaluation publications and are included here are: Boston, Massachusetts; Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Antonio, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Washington, District of Columbia. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Riccio, James; Deitch, Victoria; Verma, Nandita
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    The purpose of the Rent Reform Demonstration is to test an alternative to the current rent-setting system for families using housing choice vouchers (HCV). The goals of the alternative rent-setting model now being tested are to incentivize employment and reduce the complexity and burden (and, thus, the cost) of administering the rent policy, while not causing unnecessary hardship for HCV households. The study team, PHAs, and HUD collaboratively designed the alternative rent model that is being tested at four local Moving to Work (MTW) public housing agencies (PHAs) sites with 6,600 participating HCV assisted households using a rigorous random assignment design. The four participating PHAs are the District of Columbia Housing Authority, Lexington Housing Authority, Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority, and San Antonio Housing Authority. This report provides a detailed explanation of the alternative rent model, a description of the demonstration implementation, and an outline of the preliminary baseline information and survey data that has already been gathered from the...

    The purpose of the Rent Reform Demonstration is to test an alternative to the current rent-setting system for families using housing choice vouchers (HCV). The goals of the alternative rent-setting model now being tested are to incentivize employment and reduce the complexity and burden (and, thus, the cost) of administering the rent policy, while not causing unnecessary hardship for HCV households. The study team, PHAs, and HUD collaboratively designed the alternative rent model that is being tested at four local Moving to Work (MTW) public housing agencies (PHAs) sites with 6,600 participating HCV assisted households using a rigorous random assignment design. The four participating PHAs are the District of Columbia Housing Authority, Lexington Housing Authority, Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority, and San Antonio Housing Authority. This report provides a detailed explanation of the alternative rent model, a description of the demonstration implementation, and an outline of the preliminary baseline information and survey data that has already been gathered from the assisted families participating in the study. Future reports will assess the impact of the alternative rent model at 12 and 36 months after random assignment on employment, earnings, and hardship for the study sample and on administrative efficiencies for the PHA, provide a process evaluation of the demonstration implementation, and analyze the cost effectiveness of the new rent policy compared to the existing rent policy. (Author abstract) 

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