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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: Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn; Anzelone, Caitlin; Dechausay, Nadine; Landers, Patrick
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    This report represents the final synthesis of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project. Overall, the project’s findings demonstrated that applying behavioral insights to challenges facing human services programs can improve program efficiency, operations, and outcomes at a relatively low cost.

    The report discusses in detail:

    •overall findings from the project;

    •lessons learned during the knowledge development period as well as across the project’s sites;

    •the broader context in which the findings are situated, with respect to both applied behavioral insights and human services; and

    •implications for future research and practice.

    Each chapter is accompanied by at least one independent commentary by an expert in the field. (Author abstract)

    This report represents the final synthesis of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project. Overall, the project’s findings demonstrated that applying behavioral insights to challenges facing human services programs can improve program efficiency, operations, and outcomes at a relatively low cost.

    The report discusses in detail:

    •overall findings from the project;

    •lessons learned during the knowledge development period as well as across the project’s sites;

    •the broader context in which the findings are situated, with respect to both applied behavioral insights and human services; and

    •implications for future research and practice.

    Each chapter is accompanied by at least one independent commentary by an expert in the field. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dechausay, Nadine; Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn; Farrell, Mary; Hall, Crystal; Schmitt, Emily
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2016

    This video from the 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) reviews findings from the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project as well as lessons learned and next steps for this work. The BIAS portfolio included initiatives in the domains of work supports, child support, and child care.

    This video from the 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) reviews findings from the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project as well as lessons learned and next steps for this work. The BIAS portfolio included initiatives in the domains of work supports, child support, and child care.

  • Individual Author: Storto, Laura; Hamilton, Gayle; Schwartz, Christine; Scrivener, Susan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    Oklahoma City's Education, Training, and Employment (ET & E) program was designed to promote self-sufficiency among applicants for and recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The program (1) advocated participation in education, training, and job search classes to enhance individuals' employability and (2) granted child care assistance to support participation in the program and employment. However, ET & E was hampered by limited funding, and administrators and staff did not strongly enforce the program's mandate to participate. (Owing to statewide budget cuts and caps, caseloads were high; when case workers faced a time crunch, income maintenance functions took priority over employment and training functions.) As a result, overall, ET & E produced only small increases in the percentage of individuals who participated in basic education, vocational training, and job search classes, compared with the participation levels of a control group. For those who entered the program without a high school diploma or GED, ET & E produced larger increases...

    Oklahoma City's Education, Training, and Employment (ET & E) program was designed to promote self-sufficiency among applicants for and recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The program (1) advocated participation in education, training, and job search classes to enhance individuals' employability and (2) granted child care assistance to support participation in the program and employment. However, ET & E was hampered by limited funding, and administrators and staff did not strongly enforce the program's mandate to participate. (Owing to statewide budget cuts and caps, caseloads were high; when case workers faced a time crunch, income maintenance functions took priority over employment and training functions.) As a result, overall, ET & E produced only small increases in the percentage of individuals who participated in basic education, vocational training, and job search classes, compared with the participation levels of a control group. For those who entered the program without a high school diploma or GED, ET & E produced larger increases in participation. The program did not increase enrollees' employment and earnings, compared with a control group's, but it did produce moderate welfare savings. Though the program's mandate to participate was not strongly enforced, it is possible that the welfare effects resulted from individuals deciding to forego cash assistance after they heard the mandate stated at application. Another possibility is that case managers were better able to discover AFDC ineligibility information with ET & E enrollees. Oklahoma City has since changed its program substantially to emphasize the mandate for welfare applicants and recipients to look for work as a first activity.

    These findings come at a time when state and local welfare-to-work programs are being changed across the country in response to a major overhaul of the welfare system that was mandated by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. Oklahoma City's results provide program administrators with valuable lessons on how to improve programs' short-term effectiveness when implementing a welfare-to-work program in a tight funding environment. The main lessons are discussed at the end of this report. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hamilton, Gayle
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    Over the past three decades, federal and state policymakers have created a variety of programs with the common goal of moving people from welfare to work.  How to go about increasing employment among welfare recipients, however, has long been debated.  By laying out the lessons learned from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS) — the most ambitious welfare employment study to date — this research synthesis provides answers to critical questions in the welfare-to-work policy discussion.

    NEWWS examined the long-term effects on welfare recipients and their children of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs, operated in seven sites, that took different approaches to helping welfare recipients find jobs, advance in the labor market, and leave public assistance.  A central question of the evaluation was:  “What program strategies work best, and for whom?”  Under study were two primary preemployment approaches — one that emphasized short-term job search assistance and encouraged people to find jobs quickly and one that emphasized longer-term skill-building...

    Over the past three decades, federal and state policymakers have created a variety of programs with the common goal of moving people from welfare to work.  How to go about increasing employment among welfare recipients, however, has long been debated.  By laying out the lessons learned from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS) — the most ambitious welfare employment study to date — this research synthesis provides answers to critical questions in the welfare-to-work policy discussion.

    NEWWS examined the long-term effects on welfare recipients and their children of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs, operated in seven sites, that took different approaches to helping welfare recipients find jobs, advance in the labor market, and leave public assistance.  A central question of the evaluation was:  “What program strategies work best, and for whom?”  Under study were two primary preemployment approaches — one that emphasized short-term job search assistance and encouraged people to find jobs quickly and one that emphasized longer-term skill-building activities (primarily basic education) before entering the labor market — and a third approach that mixed elements of the other two.  The strategies’ success was measured with respect to the goals and combinations of goals that policymakers and program operators have set for welfare-to-work programs, which include cutting the welfare rolls, increasing employment, reducing poverty, not worsening (or, better still, improving) the well-being of children, and saving government money.  The study examined the programs’ effects on single-parent welfare recipients, who account for the vast majority of the national welfare caseload, as well as on different subgroups thereof for example, those considered to be most disadvantaged with respect to their likelihood of finding steady employment.  The evaluation also addressed important policy questions such as how to engage a substantial proportion of people in program activities and how enforcement of welfare-to-work participation mandates influences program effectiveness.  A complete list of the questions covered in this synthesis, along with the primary sources from NEWWS that address them in detail, is provided in Table 1.The effects of the NEWWS programs were estimated based on a wealth of data on more than 40,000 single-parent families, making NEWWS the largest study of welfare-to-work programs ever conducted.  Parents and their children were tracked over a five-year follow-up period, which, depending on the site, spanned different parts of the 1990s.  In the study’s innovative and rigorous research design, each parent was randomly assigned to a program group (in some sites, there were two program groups), whose members were eligible for program services and subject to the mandate, or a control group, whose members were not. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Freedman, Stephen; Friedlander, Daniel; Hamilton, Gayle; Rock, JoAnn; Mitchell, Marisa; Nudelman, Jodi; Schweder, Amanda; Storto, Laura
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of August 19961 ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, one of the nation’s principal safety nets for poor families. Among its provisions, the law replaced AFDC with a block grant program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and created financial incentives for states to run mandatory, work-focused welfare-to-work programs. While these types of programs are not new, various aspects of the 1996 law increase their importance: federal funds now may not be used to support most families on welfare for longer than five years and a number of states and localities have shorter welfare time limits; states face financial penalties if they fail to meet TANF-defined “participation standards,” which require large proportions of welfare recipients to be in work or...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of August 19961 ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, one of the nation’s principal safety nets for poor families. Among its provisions, the law replaced AFDC with a block grant program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and created financial incentives for states to run mandatory, work-focused welfare-to-work programs. While these types of programs are not new, various aspects of the 1996 law increase their importance: federal funds now may not be used to support most families on welfare for longer than five years and a number of states and localities have shorter welfare time limits; states face financial penalties if they fail to meet TANF-defined “participation standards,” which require large proportions of welfare recipients to be in work or work-related activities; and states must have a plan for how they will require recipients to work after two years of assistance.

    To meet the new challenges of the federal welfare legislation, state and local administrators and policy makers need to know about the types of welfare-to-work program approaches that can quickly move substantial numbers of people into work and off welfare. This report provides such guidance, by analyzing the effectiveness of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs operated in seven locales. The sites included in the evaluation are Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; and Riverside, California. 

    The report is one in a series from an evaluation of the programs called the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS), conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with support from the U.S. Department of Education. Child Trends, as a subcontractor, is conducting the analyses of outcomes for young children (the Child Outcomes Study). Two other recent reports (both also published in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and the U.S. Department of Education) should be viewed as “companion” documents to this report: Impacts on Young Children and Their Families Two Years After Enrollment: Findings from the Child Outcomes Study, prepared by Sharon M. McGroder, Martha J. Zaslow, Kristin A. Moore, and Suzanne M. LeMenestrel, Child Trends; and Do Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect the Well-Being of Children? A Synthesis of Child Research Conducted as Part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies, prepared by Gayle Hamilton, MDRC, with Stephen Freedman, MDRC, and Sharon M. McGroder, Child Trends.

    Each of the 11 studied programs operated under the federal Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program, which preceded TANF. Unlike TANF, these programs did not impose a time limit on eligibility for welfare assistance. However, they shared TANF’s primary goal of moving welfare recipients into paid work and off assistance. Further, among the 11 programs some are strongly employment-focused, the welfare-to-work strategy favored under TANF, and some are strongly basic education-focused, an approach possible under TANF but more prevalent during the late 1980s and early 1990s. (Overall, the present results pertain to the period between 1991 and 1996.) The programs varied in other ways, including how broadly the participation mandate was applied to the welfare caseload and how strictly it was enforced, the amount of child care support provided for program participation or employment, and methods of case management. The programs also served different welfare populations and operated in a variety of labor markets. (author abstract)

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