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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: Social Research and Demonstration Corporation
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1996

    This report summarizes the early findings from the Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), including lessons learned from implementing the project, from focus groups held with participants, and from an examination of the program’s effects on employment, earnings, and income assistance receipt in the first 18 months after random assignment. (author abstract)

    This report summarizes the early findings from the Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), including lessons learned from implementing the project, from focus groups held with participants, and from an examination of the program’s effects on employment, earnings, and income assistance receipt in the first 18 months after random assignment. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Quint, Janet; Bos, Johannes; Polit, Denise
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1997

    New Chance, a national research and demonstration program that operated between 1989 and 1992, was developed in a policy context marked by intense concern about teenage childbearing. That concern reflected the public's distress about three developments: the dramatic increase in the rate of out-of-wedlock childbearing over the past three decades, the long-term welfare costs incurred by young, poor women who become mothers, and the negative life prospects faced by their children. Little was known, however, about what kinds of programs and policies could help young mothers on welfare attain economic independence and could foster their children's development as well.

    The New Chance Demonstration was a rare and important opportunity to test the value of comprehensive services in assisting a disadvantaged group of families headed by young mothers who had first given birth as teenagers, who had dropped out of high school, and who were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The program, which operated in 16 locations (or "sites") in 10 states across...

    New Chance, a national research and demonstration program that operated between 1989 and 1992, was developed in a policy context marked by intense concern about teenage childbearing. That concern reflected the public's distress about three developments: the dramatic increase in the rate of out-of-wedlock childbearing over the past three decades, the long-term welfare costs incurred by young, poor women who become mothers, and the negative life prospects faced by their children. Little was known, however, about what kinds of programs and policies could help young mothers on welfare attain economic independence and could foster their children's development as well.

    The New Chance Demonstration was a rare and important opportunity to test the value of comprehensive services in assisting a disadvantaged group of families headed by young mothers who had first given birth as teenagers, who had dropped out of high school, and who were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The program, which operated in 16 locations (or "sites") in 10 states across the country, sought to help the young mothers acquire educational and vocational credentials and skills so that they could secure jobs offering opportunities for advancement and could thereby reduce, and eventually eliminate, their use of welfare. It also sought to motivate and assist participants in postponing additional childbearing and to help them become better parents. Finally, New Chance was explicitly "two-generational" in its approach, seeking to enhance the cognitive abilities, health, and socioemotional well-being of enrollees' children. The program was, for the most part, voluntary; that is, young women were generally not required to attend in order to receive public assistance. Instead, most joined it because they wanted to earn their General Educational Development (GED, or high school equivalency) certificates and the program offered free child care to enable them to participate.

    To evaluate the program's effectiveness, young women who applied and were determined to be eligible for New Chance were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the experimental group, whose members could enroll in the program, or the control group, whose members could not join New Chance but could receive other services available in their communities. To ascertain both short- and longer-term program effects, comparable information was collected from each member of both groups through in-home survey interviews conducted approximately 1½ and 3½ years after the individual had been randomly assigned. The measured average differences between the two groups' outcomes over time (such as their differences in rates of GED attainment, employment, or subsequent childbearing) and between the outcomes for their children are the observed results (or impacts) of New Chance. This, the final report on the New Chance program and its impacts, examines the trajectories of 2,079 young mothers who responded to the 3½-year survey.  (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Brock, Thomas ; Doolittle, Fred ; Fellerath, Veronica ; Wiseman, Michael ; Greenberg, David; Hollister, Robinson Jr.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1997

    At this time of national debate about the best way to promote and reward work among low-income people, Milwaukee's New Hope Demonstration provides an unusual learning opportunity. With its goals of increasing employment, reducing poverty, and reducing receipt of welfare, New Hope is an ambitious undertaking. It seeks to achieve these goals through a simple offer: Participants who work full time (defined as an average of 30 hours per week) are assured of earnings above poverty, access to subsidized child care and health insurance (if needed), and a paid community service job if they are unable to find unsubsidized employment. This mix of work-conditioned incentives and services makes New Hope unique among the tests of reforms under way today. The Board and staff of New Hope are unusual, too, in having committed themselves from the very beginning to a rigorous research agenda, believing that for their project to influence national policy, it would have to be studied seriously.

    The program is operated by a community-based organization, the New Hope Project, outside the...

    At this time of national debate about the best way to promote and reward work among low-income people, Milwaukee's New Hope Demonstration provides an unusual learning opportunity. With its goals of increasing employment, reducing poverty, and reducing receipt of welfare, New Hope is an ambitious undertaking. It seeks to achieve these goals through a simple offer: Participants who work full time (defined as an average of 30 hours per week) are assured of earnings above poverty, access to subsidized child care and health insurance (if needed), and a paid community service job if they are unable to find unsubsidized employment. This mix of work-conditioned incentives and services makes New Hope unique among the tests of reforms under way today. The Board and staff of New Hope are unusual, too, in having committed themselves from the very beginning to a rigorous research agenda, believing that for their project to influence national policy, it would have to be studied seriously.

    The program is operated by a community-based organization, the New Hope Project, outside the traditional public assistance system. During the demonstration, the program is operating in two low-income areas of Milwaukee. Eligibility is based solely on income and a willingness to work full time, without any requirement that there be a single parent or even any children present in the household, as has been common in many welfare programs. At entry into the program, approximately 70 percent of New Hope participants lived in households with children, and 63 percent were receiving some type of public assistance.

    This report, the first major product of the evaluation, presents findings on New Hope's context, design, and implementation. A future report will present findings on the program's impacts on key outcomes and costs. Funding for the evaluation has been provided by the Helen Bader Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the State of Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development.

    Several messages emerge from the findings of this report. First, through an analysis of the context in which New Hope operates, the report presents a picture of the conditions in two central-city, low-income areas within a very strong metropolitan economy. This illustrates both the benefits of the strong overall employment picture and the limits on residents' abilities to participate in the economic growth.

    Second, the New Hope Project successfully put in place the benefits and services called for in the program design, in the process learning many lessons about how to administer monthly earnings supplements, subsidies for health insurance and child care, and paid community service jobs. The program thus provides an opportunity to learn how to link more closely work and supplemental financial support than is possible under existing earned income tax credits, which largely operate on an annual basis. Among the insights emerging from the New Hope experience is the central role program staff can play in helping participants understand the various financial incentives, make informed choices, and pursue employment.

    In New Hope, unlike many other programs, participants must work to receive program benefits, so this report's findings on use of the benefits are also of special importance. New Hope was not designed with any fixed sequence of program participation. Instead, it provides a collection of benefits that participants can access as they wish. Approximately three-quarters of those accepted into the New Hope program worked full time at some point in the following 12 months and received a program benefit, but — not surprisingly — patterns of benefit use were complex and varied.

    Final results on the effectiveness of New Hope in meeting its goals must await later reports on program impacts. Nevertheless, this report illustrates how the New Hope Project succeeded in putting in place services that have the potential to provide low-income workers with a bridge from below-poverty incomes to greater economic security. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hamilton, Gayle; Brock, Thomas; Farrell, Mary; Friedlander, Daniel; Harknett, Kristen; Hunter-Manns, JoAnna; Walter, Johanna; Weisman, Joanna
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1997

    Welfare reform has been near the top of the American political agenda for almost a decade, a reflection of persistent dissatisfaction with the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. At the center of the reform discussion is the bedrock value of work. AFDC was created in 1935 primarily to ensure that women whose husbands had died or were disabled could care for their children without being compelled to go to work. By the end of the 1980s, however, most mothers were in the workforce, including mothers of young children, and the Depression-era commitment to helping mothers stay at home was considered obsolete. The key welfare reform question then became how best to move AFDC recipients into the workforce, toward self-sufficiency, and out of poverty — still an immensely important question.

    States have traditionally responded to this question by implementing one of two different welfare-to-work program strategies. The first, often referred to as the "labor force attachment" (LFA) strategy, emphasizes placing people into jobs...

    Welfare reform has been near the top of the American political agenda for almost a decade, a reflection of persistent dissatisfaction with the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. At the center of the reform discussion is the bedrock value of work. AFDC was created in 1935 primarily to ensure that women whose husbands had died or were disabled could care for their children without being compelled to go to work. By the end of the 1980s, however, most mothers were in the workforce, including mothers of young children, and the Depression-era commitment to helping mothers stay at home was considered obsolete. The key welfare reform question then became how best to move AFDC recipients into the workforce, toward self-sufficiency, and out of poverty — still an immensely important question.

    States have traditionally responded to this question by implementing one of two different welfare-to-work program strategies. The first, often referred to as the "labor force attachment" (LFA) strategy, emphasizes placing people into jobs quickly, even at low wages, reflecting a view that the workplace is where welfare recipients can best build their work habits and skills. The second, often called the "human capital development" (HCD) strategy, emphasizes education and training as a precursor to employment, based on the belief that the required skill levels for many jobs are rising and that an investment in the "human capital" of welfare recipients will allow them to obtain better and more secure jobs. Although each strategy has elements of the other LFA programs include education and training components and HCD programs include job search components the two approaches both convey different messages to welfare recipients about the best route to self-sufficiency and emphasize different program components.

    This report examines the relative strengths and limitations of particular versions of the LFA and HCD program strategies. It includes the findings from one part of a multi-year, seven-site evaluation and draws on the advantages of a unique experimental design implemented in three of those seven sites. The evaluation had its origins in the Family Support Act (FSA) of 1988, which marked a major shift in the philosophy of welfare by establishing a system of mutual obligation — between government and recipients — within the AFDC entitlement structure. As part of the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program created by the FSA, welfare recipients had to look for and accept a job or participate in employment-promoting activities such as education, vocational skills training, or temporary, unpaid work experience provided through the welfare department; if they refused, they risked losing part of their cash (and, in some cases, Food Stamps and Medicaid) benefits. In turn, government was to provide a wider array of services and supports to a broader share of the welfare population than it ever had before — all with the purpose of equipping welfare recipients for work. More recently, the emphasis of welfare reform has again shifted: Recipients have stronger obligations to meet, states have a commanding and more flexible role, and the receipt of federal benefits is now subject to a time limit. Work, however, is still key. But what is the best way to make sure that welfare recipients who can work actually find and keep jobs? Various responses to that question are currently shaping federal and state welfare reform initiatives, and this report takes a preliminary look at two of them — the LFA and HCD approaches described above. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bloom, Dan; Andes, Mary; Nicholson, Claudia
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    Connecticut’s Jobs First program is a statewide welfare reform initiative that began operating in January 1996. Jobs First was one of the earliest statewide programs to impose a time limit on welfare receipt: Most families are limited to 21 months of cash assistance. The program also includes generous financial work incentives and requires recipients to participate in employment-related services targeted toward rapid job placement. (See Table ES.1.) Jobs First was initiated under waivers of federal welfare rules that were granted before the passage of the 1996 federal welfare law; thus, the program’s experience may provide important lessons on the likely results of welfare reforms implemented across the country in response to the new law.

    This report has been prepared as part of a large-scale evaluation of Jobs First being conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC). The evaluation is funded under a contract with the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) — the agency that administers Jobs First — and with support from the U.S. Department...

    Connecticut’s Jobs First program is a statewide welfare reform initiative that began operating in January 1996. Jobs First was one of the earliest statewide programs to impose a time limit on welfare receipt: Most families are limited to 21 months of cash assistance. The program also includes generous financial work incentives and requires recipients to participate in employment-related services targeted toward rapid job placement. (See Table ES.1.) Jobs First was initiated under waivers of federal welfare rules that were granted before the passage of the 1996 federal welfare law; thus, the program’s experience may provide important lessons on the likely results of welfare reforms implemented across the country in response to the new law.

    This report has been prepared as part of a large-scale evaluation of Jobs First being conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC). The evaluation is funded under a contract with the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) — the agency that administers Jobs First — and with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Ford Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with more than two decades’ experience designing and evaluating social policy initiatives. The study focuses on two of the state’s welfare offices — New Haven and Manchester — which include about one-fourth of the state’s welfare caseload.

    The report describes Jobs First’s implementation in the research sites during roughly the first two years of program operations, from early 1996 to early 1998.1 It focuses primarily on the "pre-time limit period" — the period before Jobs First participants reached the 21-month time limit — but also includes early information on the process that occurs when individuals approach and then reach the time limit. Recipients began to reach that point in late 1997. The report does not present data on whether Jobs First has generated changes in recipients’ employment or welfare receipt patterns, income, or other measures relative to the welfare system it replaced. The first such data will be presented in an interim report scheduled for 1999. The study’s final report is scheduled for 2001. (author abstract)

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