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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: Duncan, Greg; Huston, Aletha; Weisner, Thomas
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2007

    During the 1990s, growing demands to end chronic welfare dependency culminated in the 1996 federal “welfare-to-work” reforms. But regardless of welfare reform, the United States has always been home to a large population of working poor—people who remain poor even when they work and do not receive welfare. In a concentrated effort to address the problems of the working poor, a coalition of community activists and business leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launched New Hope, an experimental program that boosted employment among the city’s poor while reducing poverty and improving children’s lives. In Higher Ground, Greg Duncan, Aletha Huston, and Thomas Weisner provide a compelling look at how New Hope can serve as a model for national anti-poverty policies.

    New Hope was a social contract—not a welfare program—in which participants were required to work a minimum of 30 hours a week in order to be eligible for earnings supplements and health and child care subsidies. All participants had access to career counseling and temporary community service jobs. Drawing on...

    During the 1990s, growing demands to end chronic welfare dependency culminated in the 1996 federal “welfare-to-work” reforms. But regardless of welfare reform, the United States has always been home to a large population of working poor—people who remain poor even when they work and do not receive welfare. In a concentrated effort to address the problems of the working poor, a coalition of community activists and business leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launched New Hope, an experimental program that boosted employment among the city’s poor while reducing poverty and improving children’s lives. In Higher Ground, Greg Duncan, Aletha Huston, and Thomas Weisner provide a compelling look at how New Hope can serve as a model for national anti-poverty policies.

    New Hope was a social contract—not a welfare program—in which participants were required to work a minimum of 30 hours a week in order to be eligible for earnings supplements and health and child care subsidies. All participants had access to career counseling and temporary community service jobs. Drawing on evidence from surveys, public records of employment and earnings, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic observation, Higher Ground tells the story of this ambitious three-year social experiment and evaluates how participants fared relative to a control group. The results were highly encouraging. Poverty rates declined among families that participated in the program. Employment and earnings increased among participants who were not initially working full-time, relative to their counterparts in a control group. For those who had faced just one significant barrier to employment (such as a lack of access to child care or a spotty employment history), these gains lasted years after the program ended. Increased income, combined with New Hope’s subsidies for child care and health care, brought marked improvements to the well-being and development of participants’ children. Enrollment in child care centers increased, and fewer medical needs went unmet. Children performed better in school and exhibited fewer behavioral problems, and gains were particularly dramatic for boys, who are at the greatest risk for poor academic performance and behavioral disorders.

    As America takes stock of the successes and shortcomings of the Clinton-era welfare reforms, the authors convincingly demonstrate why New Hope could be a model for state and national policies to assist the working poor. Evidence based and insightfully written, Higher Ground illuminates how policymakers can make work pay for families struggling to escape poverty. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: DeParle, Jason
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2004

    In this definitive work, two-time Pulitzer finalist Jason DeParle cuts between the mean streets of Milwaukee and the corridors of Washington to produce a masterpiece of literary journalism. At the heart of the story are three cousins whose different lives follow similar trajectories. Leaving welfare, Angie puts her heart in her work. Jewell bets on an imprisoned man. Opal guards a tragic secret that threatens her kids and her life. DeParle traces  their family history back six generations to slavery and weaves poor people, politicians, reformers, and rogues into a spellbinding epic.

    With a vivid sense of humanity, DeParle demonstrates that although we live in a country where anyone can make it, generation after generation some families don’t. To read American Dream is to understand why. (author abstract)

    In this definitive work, two-time Pulitzer finalist Jason DeParle cuts between the mean streets of Milwaukee and the corridors of Washington to produce a masterpiece of literary journalism. At the heart of the story are three cousins whose different lives follow similar trajectories. Leaving welfare, Angie puts her heart in her work. Jewell bets on an imprisoned man. Opal guards a tragic secret that threatens her kids and her life. DeParle traces  their family history back six generations to slavery and weaves poor people, politicians, reformers, and rogues into a spellbinding epic.

    With a vivid sense of humanity, DeParle demonstrates that although we live in a country where anyone can make it, generation after generation some families don’t. To read American Dream is to understand why. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Trenholm, Christopher; Devaney, Barbara; Fortson, Ken; Quay, Lisa; Wheeler, Justin; Clark, Melissa
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2007

    The enactment of Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 significantly increased the funding and prominence of abstinence education as an approach to promote sexual abstinence and healthy teen behavior.  Since fiscal year 1998, the Title V, Section 510 program has allocated $50 million annually in federal funding for programs that teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for school-age children.  Under the matching block grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), states must match this federal funding at 75 percent, resulting in a total of $87.5 million annually for Title V, Section 510 abstinence education programs.  All programs receiving Title V, Section 510 abstinence education funding must comply with the “A-H” definition of abstinence education.

    In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Congress authorized a scientific evaluation of the Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Program.  This report presents final results from a...

    The enactment of Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 significantly increased the funding and prominence of abstinence education as an approach to promote sexual abstinence and healthy teen behavior.  Since fiscal year 1998, the Title V, Section 510 program has allocated $50 million annually in federal funding for programs that teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for school-age children.  Under the matching block grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), states must match this federal funding at 75 percent, resulting in a total of $87.5 million annually for Title V, Section 510 abstinence education programs.  All programs receiving Title V, Section 510 abstinence education funding must comply with the “A-H” definition of abstinence education.

    In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Congress authorized a scientific evaluation of the Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Program.  This report presents final results from a multi-year, experimentally-based impact study conducted as part of this evaluation.  It focuses on four selected Title V, Section 510 abstinence education programs:  (1) My Choice, My Future! in Powhatan, Virginia; (2) ReCapturing the Vision in Miami, Florida; (3) Families United to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (FUPTP) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and (4) Teens in Control in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  Based on follow-up data collected from youth four to six years after study enrollment, the report presents the estimated program impacts on youth behavior, including sexual abstinence, risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and other related outcomes. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Holzer, Harry J.; Stoll, Michael A.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    Although employment rates among welfare recipients have risen substantially since the early 1990s, many questions about welfare-to-work efforts remain. What are the employment prospects of the least skilled and least experienced welfare recipients? What are the chief obstacles to hiring them? How well do they perform? Are their wages and benefits sufficient to achieve financial independence over time? This report draws on employer survey data from four cities (including Los Angeles) to answer these and other questions. In addition to analyzing the survey responses, the authors compare the success these cities have had in moving welfare recipients into the workforce. They also explore the policy implications of their findings. (author abstract)

    Although employment rates among welfare recipients have risen substantially since the early 1990s, many questions about welfare-to-work efforts remain. What are the employment prospects of the least skilled and least experienced welfare recipients? What are the chief obstacles to hiring them? How well do they perform? Are their wages and benefits sufficient to achieve financial independence over time? This report draws on employer survey data from four cities (including Los Angeles) to answer these and other questions. In addition to analyzing the survey responses, the authors compare the success these cities have had in moving welfare recipients into the workforce. They also explore the policy implications of their findings. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Duncan, Greg J.; Chase-Lansdale, P. Lindsay
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2000

    Plunging caseloads and soaring employment among single mothers lead many to judge welfare reform a stunning success. Lost in the caseload counts and political rhetoric is the subject of our chapter: welfare reform and children. We sort through conflicting theory and evidence regarding the impacts of welfare reform on children’s well-being and development.

    A brief examination of recent trends in national indicators of potential problems shows that the sky has not fallen. Poverty rates are down, as are teen crime and fertility as well as substantiated cases of child maltreatment. However, the dearth of timely and consistent state level data on indicators of child well-being precludes a serious analysis of the role of welfare reform, the booming economy and other recent changes for all but a handful of these indicators.

    We turn instead to lessons that can be gleaned from a set of welfare-reform random assignment experiments conducted during the 1990s. Experiments provide strong evidence on the impacts of the welfare reform packages under evaluation relative to the old...

    Plunging caseloads and soaring employment among single mothers lead many to judge welfare reform a stunning success. Lost in the caseload counts and political rhetoric is the subject of our chapter: welfare reform and children. We sort through conflicting theory and evidence regarding the impacts of welfare reform on children’s well-being and development.

    A brief examination of recent trends in national indicators of potential problems shows that the sky has not fallen. Poverty rates are down, as are teen crime and fertility as well as substantiated cases of child maltreatment. However, the dearth of timely and consistent state level data on indicators of child well-being precludes a serious analysis of the role of welfare reform, the booming economy and other recent changes for all but a handful of these indicators.

    We turn instead to lessons that can be gleaned from a set of welfare-reform random assignment experiments conducted during the 1990s. Experiments provide strong evidence on the impacts of the welfare reform packages under evaluation relative to the old AFDC system. Regrettably, the reform packages evaluated in the experiments do not span the diverse set of reforms instituted by states in the late 1990s.

    Our conclusions regarding likely child impacts depend crucially on the ages of the children studied. In the case of elementary-school children, the picture is fairly positive. We find strong evidence that welfare reform  can be a potent force for enhancing achievement and positive behavior.  When welfare reform packages do not appear to help younger children, there is little evidence of harm, even in the one experiment with time limits. If anything, the beneficial impacts are strongest for children in families with longer histories of welfare receipt. On the other hand, in the case of adolescents, more limited evidence suggests that welfare reforms may cause detrimental increases in school problems and risky behavior. The jury is still out on impacts on infants and toddlers.

    Distinguishing among programs, we find that reforms with work mandates but few supports (e.g., wage and childcare subsidies) for working mothers appear to be significantly less beneficial for elementary-school-aged children than programs with work supports. Furthermore, and here the evidence is also less definitive, reforms with positive impacts on children appeared  to operate more through changes outside the family – e.g., in childcare and after-school programs – than through changes in parental mental health, family routines or other aspects of the home environment. Finally, poverty, maternal depression, domestic violence and children’s developmental problems are alarmingly common, even among families offered a generous package of work supports.

    Our list of policy recommendations includes ways of better supporting work, providing after-school and community programs for older children, addressing safety-net issues for families with barriers to stable, full-time employment, and encouraging fathers to become more involved with their children. More generally, we hope that the debate over the future of welfare reform will pay more attention to children’s well-being, to the diverse situations in which children in low-income families find themselves, and to the very different developmental needs of children of different ages. (author abstract)

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