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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: Wood, Robert G.; Moore, Quinn; Clarkwest, Andrew; Killewald, Alexandra; Monahan, Shannon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation assessed the impacts of eight programs offering a similar model of healthy marriage and relationship skills and support services to interested low-income unmarried parents around the time of the birth of a child.  While many unmarried parents live together when their children are born, their relationships are often tenuous and most end within a few years of the child’s birth. Research suggests that children do better when raised by both of their parents in healthy environments.  The BSF program model included curricula-based group workshops on relationship skills; individual support from family coordinators; and assessment and referral to other needed services. The key question addressed through the BSF evaluation is whether the interventions improved the quality of unmarried parents’ relationships, increased the likelihood that they remained together, and improved the well-being of children. This report presents final impact results from data collected 36 months after couples enrolled in the study.  A separate technical supplement...

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation assessed the impacts of eight programs offering a similar model of healthy marriage and relationship skills and support services to interested low-income unmarried parents around the time of the birth of a child.  While many unmarried parents live together when their children are born, their relationships are often tenuous and most end within a few years of the child’s birth. Research suggests that children do better when raised by both of their parents in healthy environments.  The BSF program model included curricula-based group workshops on relationship skills; individual support from family coordinators; and assessment and referral to other needed services. The key question addressed through the BSF evaluation is whether the interventions improved the quality of unmarried parents’ relationships, increased the likelihood that they remained together, and improved the well-being of children. This report presents final impact results from data collected 36 months after couples enrolled in the study.  A separate technical supplement details the analytic approaches and includes additional analyses. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hamilton, Gayle; Scrivener, Susan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. The Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project was launched in 1999 to identify and determine the effectiveness of different program strategies designed to promote employment stability and earnings growth among current or former welfare recipients and other low-income individuals. The study was conceived and funded by the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; supplemental support was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the evaluation was conducted by MDRC.

    Using random assignment research designs, ERA tested 16 different program models in eight states and estimated effects over a three-to four-year follow-up period. The focus of this synthesis is primarily on the 12 programs that targeted more employable groups, as opposed to “harder-to employ” groups, such as individuals with known disabilities. Three...

    Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. The Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project was launched in 1999 to identify and determine the effectiveness of different program strategies designed to promote employment stability and earnings growth among current or former welfare recipients and other low-income individuals. The study was conceived and funded by the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; supplemental support was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the evaluation was conducted by MDRC.

    Using random assignment research designs, ERA tested 16 different program models in eight states and estimated effects over a three-to four-year follow-up period. The focus of this synthesis is primarily on the 12 programs that targeted more employable groups, as opposed to “harder-to employ” groups, such as individuals with known disabilities. Three of these 12 programs produced consistent increases in individuals’ employment retention and advancement, and the others did not. The project points to some strategies that succeeded in improving retention and earnings among low-income single parents and provides some lessons. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Moore, Quinn; Wood, Robert G.; Clarkwest, Andrew; Killewald, Alexandra; Monahan, Shannon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    This report is a technical supplement to the 36-month impact report for the Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation (Wood et al. 2012). It provides additional detail about the research design, analytic methods, and variable construction that were used for the 36-month analysis, as well as a discussion of the subgroup analysis that was conducted. Additionally, the report discusses the treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) impact analysis, an analysis of BSF’s effects on couples who actually attended BSF group sessions. The full set of impact results generated as part of the 36-month analysis is included in the appendices of this volume. Restricted use data files and documentation are available through the Inter-University Consortium of Political and Social Research. (author abstract)

    This report is a technical supplement to the 36-month impact report for the Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation (Wood et al. 2012). It provides additional detail about the research design, analytic methods, and variable construction that were used for the 36-month analysis, as well as a discussion of the subgroup analysis that was conducted. Additionally, the report discusses the treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) impact analysis, an analysis of BSF’s effects on couples who actually attended BSF group sessions. The full set of impact results generated as part of the 36-month analysis is included in the appendices of this volume. Restricted use data files and documentation are available through the Inter-University Consortium of Political and Social Research. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Martinson, Karin; Hamilton, Gayle
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    This brief presents findings, and lessons for policy and practice, from MDRC-conducted studies of five programs that provided earnings supplements and that have been rigorously evaluated using a random assignment research design: the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), Milwaukee’s New Hope Project, the Texas Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) program, and the United Kingdom Employment Retention and Advancement (UK ERA) program. The evaluations primarily focus on the effects of the programs on single parents. SSP, MFIP, and New Hope operated some time ago (primarily in the 1990s), but long-run follow-up data are available only recently. In addition, relatively new evaluation results are available from the more recent Texas ERA and UK ERA programs.

    This brief discusses key findings from evaluations of these earnings supplement programs and then provides lessons for both policy and practice that have emerged from these initiatives. While each program had its own set of unique circumstances and lessons (and none is...

    This brief presents findings, and lessons for policy and practice, from MDRC-conducted studies of five programs that provided earnings supplements and that have been rigorously evaluated using a random assignment research design: the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), Milwaukee’s New Hope Project, the Texas Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) program, and the United Kingdom Employment Retention and Advancement (UK ERA) program. The evaluations primarily focus on the effects of the programs on single parents. SSP, MFIP, and New Hope operated some time ago (primarily in the 1990s), but long-run follow-up data are available only recently. In addition, relatively new evaluation results are available from the more recent Texas ERA and UK ERA programs.

    This brief discusses key findings from evaluations of these earnings supplement programs and then provides lessons for both policy and practice that have emerged from these initiatives. While each program had its own set of unique circumstances and lessons (and none is currently operating), the focus here is on common themes across the initiatives. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wood, Robert G.; Moore, Quinn; Clarkwest, Andrew
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    Building Strong Families (BSF), a program of relationship skills education for unwed parents, has been found in a rigorous random assignment evaluation to have limited effects on couples who signed up for the program (Wood, McConnell, et al. 2010). Averaging results across the eight local programs that participated in the evaluation, BSF had no effect on the couples’ relationship quality or on the likelihood that they would remain romantically involved or get married 15 months after they enrolled in the program. When impacts were examined separately for the eight programs, only one was found to have a consistent pattern of positive effects on couples’ relationships, while another was found to have negative effects.

    These results, however, leave us with an unanswered question of wide interest, because not all couples randomly assigned to receive BSF services actually participated. The core BSF service was group workshops on relationship skills, and across all evaluation sites about 45 percent of the couples assigned to the program group never attended even one workshop...

    Building Strong Families (BSF), a program of relationship skills education for unwed parents, has been found in a rigorous random assignment evaluation to have limited effects on couples who signed up for the program (Wood, McConnell, et al. 2010). Averaging results across the eight local programs that participated in the evaluation, BSF had no effect on the couples’ relationship quality or on the likelihood that they would remain romantically involved or get married 15 months after they enrolled in the program. When impacts were examined separately for the eight programs, only one was found to have a consistent pattern of positive effects on couples’ relationships, while another was found to have negative effects.

    These results, however, leave us with an unanswered question of wide interest, because not all couples randomly assigned to receive BSF services actually participated. The core BSF service was group workshops on relationship skills, and across all evaluation sites about 45 percent of the couples assigned to the program group never attended even one workshop session. BSF was a voluntary program and voluntary programs, particularly those serving low-income families, often have low participation rates (McCurdy and Daro 2001; Myers et al. 1992; Garvey et al. 2006). Even so, it is natural to ask whether BSF had any effects on the couples who did attend group sessions.

    The analysis finds no strong evidence of effects on couples who attended group sessions. Among those who attended at least one group session, there were no statistically significant effects on the key relationship outcomes. Among the smaller group of couples who attended at least half of the group sessions offered, there was no strong evidence of effects, with one exception. BSF appears to have increased the likelihood that these couples would be living together (married or unmarried) at the 15-month follow-up—with an impact on this outcome of 7 to 10 percentage points. (author abstract)

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