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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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The SSRC Library collection is constantly growing and new research is added regularly. We welcome our users to submit a library item to help us grow our collection in response to your needs.


  • Individual Author: Cox, Ron
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2012

    Eradicating poverty in the United States has eluded policymakers, researchers, and analysts for the past 50 years. After initial decreases  during the 1960s and early 1970s, poverty rates have remained stubbornly stable, wavering from 11% to 15% of the population (Gabe, 2012). Government programs have largely met with only limited success despite investing billions of dollars each year. Recently, a conceptual framework that more seamlessly integrates community and government agencies to form a comprehensive effort against poverty has gained momentum (Kania & Kramer, 2011). Informing this effort have been research findings from the social sciences that have established the decline of two-parent families through divorce and unwed childbearing as an underlying causal agent of poverty. Fueled by these findings, lawmakers made the promotion of healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood a central component of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity (PRWORA). This research brief examines the rationale behind a framework of integration, the effectiveness of healthy...

    Eradicating poverty in the United States has eluded policymakers, researchers, and analysts for the past 50 years. After initial decreases  during the 1960s and early 1970s, poverty rates have remained stubbornly stable, wavering from 11% to 15% of the population (Gabe, 2012). Government programs have largely met with only limited success despite investing billions of dollars each year. Recently, a conceptual framework that more seamlessly integrates community and government agencies to form a comprehensive effort against poverty has gained momentum (Kania & Kramer, 2011). Informing this effort have been research findings from the social sciences that have established the decline of two-parent families through divorce and unwed childbearing as an underlying causal agent of poverty. Fueled by these findings, lawmakers made the promotion of healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood a central component of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity (PRWORA). This research brief examines the rationale behind a framework of integration, the effectiveness of healthy marriage and as an intervention, and recent attempts to integrate healthy marriage and relationship education into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Fein, David J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    The prisms social scientists have used to study marriage mostly have not been focused on the lower end of the economic spectrum. There has been considerable attention to racial and ethnic minorities and, more recently, to relationships among unwed parents. Although these populations are disproportionately poor, their distinctive attitudes and behaviors could reflect many influences other than economic status. Many analyses of marriage outcomes in the general population have included economic indicators as covariates. Very few, however, have examined carefully the effects of economic or other causal variables among the most disadvantaged sample members (Fein, 2003; Fein et al., 2003).

    Emerging federal initiatives seeking to support marriage have increased the need for improved information on low-income married couples. These needs begin with basic descriptive statistics. Research on fragile families has demonstrated that simple facts can be very useful in stimulating thinking about interventions for couples. For example, the finding that a substantial majority of unwed...

    The prisms social scientists have used to study marriage mostly have not been focused on the lower end of the economic spectrum. There has been considerable attention to racial and ethnic minorities and, more recently, to relationships among unwed parents. Although these populations are disproportionately poor, their distinctive attitudes and behaviors could reflect many influences other than economic status. Many analyses of marriage outcomes in the general population have included economic indicators as covariates. Very few, however, have examined carefully the effects of economic or other causal variables among the most disadvantaged sample members (Fein, 2003; Fein et al., 2003).

    Emerging federal initiatives seeking to support marriage have increased the need for improved information on low-income married couples. These needs begin with basic descriptive statistics. Research on fragile families has demonstrated that simple facts can be very useful in stimulating thinking about interventions for couples. For example, the finding that a substantial majority of unwed couples are involved romantically around the time of birth but most of these relationships do not survive long after birth has stimulated interest in transition to parenthood programs (Dion et al., 2003). A similar body of descriptive evidence on low-income married couples is needed to support thinking about the broad population of interest, subgroups that might be particularly important to target, and the kinds of services and policy changes that may be most helpful.

    One key need is to document the degree to which marriage outcomes vary across different forms and levels of economic disadvantage. Next, we must ascertain how different individual, family, and environmental characteristics of disadvantaged couples are associated with marriage outcomes. Beyond simple measures like marital satisfaction, it will be useful to assess how more specific aspects of marital interaction and related psychological processes — the proximate targets of relationship skills programs — vary across groups. Needed are analyses both of variation in outcomes at a point in time, as well as of changes in outcomes for a population over time.

    This paper starts the enterprise by assembling and assessing recent descriptive statistics on the formation and stability, characteristics, and quality of marriages in the low-income population of the U.S. In addition to culling findings from published reports, it also provides new findings from several recent surveys. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Avellar, Sarah; Clarkwest, Andrew; Dion, M. Robin; Asheer, Subuhi; Borradaile, Kelley; Angus, Megan H.; Novak, Timothy; Redline, Julie; Zaveri, Heather; Zukiewicz, Marykate
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    In the past few decades, research showing the advantages to children of being raised by both parents in healthy, stable relationships has led to an increase in couple-based programs designed to enhance relationship or co-parenting skills. In response to interest in such programming, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), engaged Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the Strengthening Families Evidence Review (SFER) to identify and review studies of family-strengthening programs. This catalog focuses on studies of programs that served low-income couples; a separate catalog presents studies of programs that served low-income fathers.

    This catalog compiles information from 54 studies of 39 programs. Each study description provides details on the research, such as study design and characteristics of those included in the sample, and of the programs, such as structure, staffing and operations. The descriptions are based on the information provided by the study...

    In the past few decades, research showing the advantages to children of being raised by both parents in healthy, stable relationships has led to an increase in couple-based programs designed to enhance relationship or co-parenting skills. In response to interest in such programming, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), engaged Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the Strengthening Families Evidence Review (SFER) to identify and review studies of family-strengthening programs. This catalog focuses on studies of programs that served low-income couples; a separate catalog presents studies of programs that served low-income fathers.

    This catalog compiles information from 54 studies of 39 programs. Each study description provides details on the research, such as study design and characteristics of those included in the sample, and of the programs, such as structure, staffing and operations. The descriptions are based on the information provided by the study authors and may not include complete information on individual programs.

    Most of the studies analyze participant outcomes—for example, status of and satisfaction with relationships—but vary in the strength of their evidence for determining whether the programs themselves caused the reported outcomes. To help readers assess the strength of the evidence on outcomes, we rated the studies based on the likelihood that the estimated effects are the result of the program rather than other factors, such as natural change over time. The ratings categories—high, moderate, low, and unrated—are based on each study’s design, execution, and analysis.

    A high rating means the study is well-designed and executed, and the estimates of effects or impacts reported can be attributed to the program. A study with a moderate rating is fairly well designed and executed but has some weaknesses, which means the authors have not been able to rule out definitively that the estimated effects are not due at least in part to factors other than the program. A study is assigned a low rating when there are weaknesses in the study design or analytical methods that mean the study cannot isolate potential effects of the program from other factors— that is, we do not know if the outcomes are a result of the program, participant characteristics, or other influences. Studies that only focus on aspects other than participant outcomes, such as program operations and implementation, are unrated.

    Of the 54 studies, 7 have high or moderate ratings, 18 have low ratings, and the remaining 29 are unrated studies, either because they do not include participant outcomes or they are additional sources and overlap with a rated study. Studies that received a high rating provide strong evidence that the program studied led to outcomes that can be attributed to program services and were different from what would have occurred without the program. Although there is no clear evidence that programs in studies with low ratings or those that are unrated led to outcomes of interest, the studies provide information on services and approaches that have been implemented, and descriptive information about operational successes and challenges (e.g., those related to recruitment and retention). The programs they assess are potentially promising or innovative but have not yet undergone evaluations that establish the extent to which they result in positive outcomes for participants. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Sawhill, Isabel V.; Haskins, Ron
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2009

    Americans believe economic opportunity is as fundamental a right as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More concerned about a level playing field for all, they worry less about the growing income and wealth disparity in our country. Creating an Opportunity Society examines economic opportunity in the United States and explores how to create more of it, particularly for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose a concrete agenda for increasing opportunity that is cost effective, consistent with American values, and focuses on improving the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. They emphasize individual responsibility as an indispensable basis for successful policies and programs. The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to create more opportunity in America: " Increase education for children and youth at the preschool, K--12, and postsecondary levels " Encourage and support work among adults " Reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births while increasing the share of children reared by their married parents With...

    Americans believe economic opportunity is as fundamental a right as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More concerned about a level playing field for all, they worry less about the growing income and wealth disparity in our country. Creating an Opportunity Society examines economic opportunity in the United States and explores how to create more of it, particularly for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose a concrete agenda for increasing opportunity that is cost effective, consistent with American values, and focuses on improving the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. They emphasize individual responsibility as an indispensable basis for successful policies and programs. The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to create more opportunity in America: " Increase education for children and youth at the preschool, K--12, and postsecondary levels " Encourage and support work among adults " Reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births while increasing the share of children reared by their married parents With concern for the federal deficit in mind, Haskins and Sawhill argue for reallocating existing resources, especially from the affluent elderly to disadvantaged children and their families. The authors are optimistic that a judicious use of the nation's resources can level the playing field and produce more opportunity for all. Creating an Opportunity Society offers the most complete summary available of the facts and the factors that contribute to economic opportunity. It looks at the poor, the middle class, and the rich, providing deep background data on how each group has fared in recent decades. Unfortunately, only the rich have made substantial progress, making this book a timely guide forward for anyone interested in what we can do as a society to improve the prospects for our less-advantaged families and fellow citizens. (publisher abstract)

  • Individual Author: Karney, Benjamin R.; Beckett, Megan K.; Collins, Rebecca L.; Shaw, Rebecca
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2007

    Policymakers are interested in promoting healthy marriages in adulthood by providing services to strengthen the adolescent precursors of healthy marriage, especially within low-income populations. But if programs and curricula targeting adolescent romantic relationships are to be effective, they must be grounded in an accurate understanding of how adolescent relationships function and the role that they play in the development of healthy adult marriages. This report evaluates the current landscape of theory, research, and interventions addressing the role of adolescent romantic relationships in the development of healthy adult marriages. Drawing on a thorough review of the existing theoretical and empirical literature in this area, as well as interviews with practitioners directly involved with developing or administering relationship education to adolescents, the authors bring together relevant research and theory from a wide range of disciplines that have examined these issues, and suggest future directions for research and intervention. In particular, they note that although...

    Policymakers are interested in promoting healthy marriages in adulthood by providing services to strengthen the adolescent precursors of healthy marriage, especially within low-income populations. But if programs and curricula targeting adolescent romantic relationships are to be effective, they must be grounded in an accurate understanding of how adolescent relationships function and the role that they play in the development of healthy adult marriages. This report evaluates the current landscape of theory, research, and interventions addressing the role of adolescent romantic relationships in the development of healthy adult marriages. Drawing on a thorough review of the existing theoretical and empirical literature in this area, as well as interviews with practitioners directly involved with developing or administering relationship education to adolescents, the authors bring together relevant research and theory from a wide range of disciplines that have examined these issues, and suggest future directions for research and intervention. In particular, they note that although research describing romantic relationships in low-income populations is sparse, there are already-existing nationally representative data sets that include data from substantial numbers of well-sampled low-income adolescents. Analyses of these data would have relatively low cost and a potentially high yield for informing policies that target low-income youth. (author abstract)

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