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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: Michalopoulos, Charles
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    Social policy evaluations usually use classical statistical methods, which may, for example, compare outcomes for program and comparison groups and determine whether the estimated differences (or impacts) are statistically significant — meaning they are unlikely to have been generated by a program with no effect. This approach has two important shortcomings. First, it is geared toward testing hypotheses regarding specific possible program effects — most commonly, whether a program has zero effect. It is difficult with this framework to test a hypothesis that, say, the program’s estimated impact is larger than 10 (whether 10 percentage points, $10, or some other measure). Second, readers often view results through the lens of their own expectations. A program developer may interpret results positively even if they are not statistically significant — that is, they do not confirm the program’s effectiveness — while a skeptic might interpret with caution statistically significant impact estimates that do not follow theoretical expectations.

    This paper uses Bayesian methods —...

    Social policy evaluations usually use classical statistical methods, which may, for example, compare outcomes for program and comparison groups and determine whether the estimated differences (or impacts) are statistically significant — meaning they are unlikely to have been generated by a program with no effect. This approach has two important shortcomings. First, it is geared toward testing hypotheses regarding specific possible program effects — most commonly, whether a program has zero effect. It is difficult with this framework to test a hypothesis that, say, the program’s estimated impact is larger than 10 (whether 10 percentage points, $10, or some other measure). Second, readers often view results through the lens of their own expectations. A program developer may interpret results positively even if they are not statistically significant — that is, they do not confirm the program’s effectiveness — while a skeptic might interpret with caution statistically significant impact estimates that do not follow theoretical expectations.

    This paper uses Bayesian methods — an alternative to classical statistics — to reanalyze results from three studies in the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ (HtE) Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is testing interventions to increase employment and reduce welfare dependency for low-income adults with serious barriers to employment. In interpreting new data from a social policy evaluation, a Bayesian analysis formally incorporates prior beliefs, or expectations (known as "priors"), about the social policy into the statistical analysis and characterizes results in terms of the distribution of possible effects, instead of whether the effects are consistent with a true effect of zero.

    The main question addressed in the paper is whether a Bayesian approach tends to confirm or contradict published results. Results of the Bayesian analysis generally confirm the published findings that impacts from the three HtE programs examined here tend to be small. This is in part because results for the three sites are broadly consistent with findings from similar studies, but in part because each of the sites included a relatively large sample. The Bayesian framework may be more informative when applied to smaller studies that might not be expected to provide statistically significant impact estimates on their own. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Butler, David; Alson, Julianna; Bloom, Dan; Deitch, Victoria; Hill, Aaron; Hsueh, JoAnn; Jacobs, Erin; Kim, Sue; McRoberts, Reanin; Redcross, Cindy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    In the context of a public safety net focused on limiting dependency and encouraging participation in the labor market, policymakers and researchers are especially interested in individuals who face obstacles to finding and keeping jobs. The Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ (HtE) Demonstration and Evaluation Project was a 10-year study that evaluated innovative strategies aimed at improving employment and other outcomes for groups who face serious barriers to employment. The project was sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. This report describes the HtE programs and summarizes the final results for each program. Additionally, it presents information for three sites from the ACF-sponsored Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project where hard-to-employ populations were also targeted.

    Three of the eight models that are described here led to increases in employment. Two of the three...

    In the context of a public safety net focused on limiting dependency and encouraging participation in the labor market, policymakers and researchers are especially interested in individuals who face obstacles to finding and keeping jobs. The Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ (HtE) Demonstration and Evaluation Project was a 10-year study that evaluated innovative strategies aimed at improving employment and other outcomes for groups who face serious barriers to employment. The project was sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. This report describes the HtE programs and summarizes the final results for each program. Additionally, it presents information for three sites from the ACF-sponsored Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project where hard-to-employ populations were also targeted.

    Three of the eight models that are described here led to increases in employment. Two of the three — large-scale programs that provided temporary, subsidized "transitional" jobs to facilitate entry into the workforce for long-term welfare recipients in one program and for ex-prisoners in the other — produced only short-term gains in employment, driven mainly by the transitional jobs themselves. The third one — a welfare-to-work program that provided unpaid work experience, job placement, and education services to recipients with health conditions — had longer-term gains, increasing employment and reducing the amount of cash assistance received over four years. Promising findings were also observed in other sites. An early-childhood development program that was combined with services to boost parents’ self-sufficiency increased employment and earnings for a subgroup of the study participants and increased the use of high-quality child care; the program for ex-prisoners mentioned above decreased recidivism; and an intervention for low-income parents with depression produced short-term increases in the use of in-person treatment. But other programs — case management services for low-income substance abusers and two employment strategies for welfare recipients — revealed no observed impacts.

    While these results are mixed, some directions for future research on the hard-to-employ emerged:

    • The findings from the evaluations of transitional jobs programs have influenced the design of two new federal subsidized employment initiatives, which are seeking to test approaches that may achieve longer-lasting effects.
    • The HtE evaluation illustrates some key challenges that early childhood education programs may face when adding self-sufficiency services for parents, and provides important lessons for implementation that can guide future two-generational programs for low-income parents and their young children.
    • Results from the HtE evaluation suggest future strategies for enhancing and adapting an intervention to help parents with depression that may benefit low-income populations.
    • Evidence from the HtE evaluation of employment strategies for welfare recipients along with other research indicates that combining work-focused strategies with treatment or services may be more promising than using either strategy alone, especially for people with disabilities and behavioral health problems.

    (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kansas Action for Children
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    Since Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996, Kansas has dramatically reduced its welfare roles. Noting that achieving self-sufficiency is the real measure of success in combating poverty, this study examines welfare reform efforts in Kansas. To gather information, United Way member agencies and community emergency assistance agencies administered a survey during 1998 and 1999 to 2,005 households seeking assistance, 1,244 of whom were families with children. Findings reveal that while Kansas has made progress in fighting poverty, that progress is far more modest than the dramatic decrease in welfare roles suggests. Kansas ranks 14th in the percentage reduction in welfare recipients between 1993 and 1999. Many welfare recipients and former recipients continue to struggle to meet their needs. The level of income required to become self-sufficient often far exceeds the wages that a welfare recipient can expect to receive. Kansas diverts almost half the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant into foster care, thereby...

    Since Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996, Kansas has dramatically reduced its welfare roles. Noting that achieving self-sufficiency is the real measure of success in combating poverty, this study examines welfare reform efforts in Kansas. To gather information, United Way member agencies and community emergency assistance agencies administered a survey during 1998 and 1999 to 2,005 households seeking assistance, 1,244 of whom were families with children. Findings reveal that while Kansas has made progress in fighting poverty, that progress is far more modest than the dramatic decrease in welfare roles suggests. Kansas ranks 14th in the percentage reduction in welfare recipients between 1993 and 1999. Many welfare recipients and former recipients continue to struggle to meet their needs. The level of income required to become self-sufficient often far exceeds the wages that a welfare recipient can expect to receive. Kansas diverts almost half the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant into foster care, thereby reducing its ability to effectively improve families' self-sufficiency. Kansas places little emphasis on providing recipients with skill-specific training needed to secure a living wage, with current state spending too low to take full advantage of federal matching grants. An alarming number of poor families are not receiving food stamps, Medicaid, child care subsidies, and other benefits for which they are eligible. Based on findings, the following recommendations were made to help Kansas achieve the true goals of welfare reform: (1) caseworkers should make sure that families are aware of benefits for which they are eligible; and (2) job readiness and training programs should be emphasized. (KB) (Eric abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hsueh, JoAnn; Farrell, Mary E.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    As part of the multisite Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, MDRC, together with its research partners, is leading an evaluation of parental employment and educational services delivered within Early Head Start (Enhanced EHS). The program model tested here aims to dually address the employment and educational needs of parents who are at risk of unemployment and the developmental needs of their children. The study is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.  The study uses a rigorous random assignment design comparing outcomes for families and  children who were offered Enhanced EHS with outcomes for those who could only access alternative services in the community. This report presents the final impact results approximately 42 months after families and children first entered the study. (author abstract)

    As part of the multisite Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, MDRC, together with its research partners, is leading an evaluation of parental employment and educational services delivered within Early Head Start (Enhanced EHS). The program model tested here aims to dually address the employment and educational needs of parents who are at risk of unemployment and the developmental needs of their children. The study is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.  The study uses a rigorous random assignment design comparing outcomes for families and  children who were offered Enhanced EHS with outcomes for those who could only access alternative services in the community. This report presents the final impact results approximately 42 months after families and children first entered the study. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hsueh, JoAnn; Jacobs, Erin; Farrell, Mary
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    Children living in poverty face considerable developmental risks. This report presents interim results from an evaluation of parental employment and educational services delivered within a two-generational, early childhood program targeting low-income families who are expecting a child or who have a child under age 3. This study is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. The program model tested here aims to dually address both the employment and educational needs of parents who are at risk of unemployment and the developmental needs of their young children. The program’s effects are being studied by examining 610 families who were randomly assigned to a program group, which received the enhanced two-generational program, or to a control group, which could only access alternative services in the community. (author abstract)

    Children living in poverty face considerable developmental risks. This report presents interim results from an evaluation of parental employment and educational services delivered within a two-generational, early childhood program targeting low-income families who are expecting a child or who have a child under age 3. This study is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. The program model tested here aims to dually address both the employment and educational needs of parents who are at risk of unemployment and the developmental needs of their young children. The program’s effects are being studied by examining 610 families who were randomly assigned to a program group, which received the enhanced two-generational program, or to a control group, which could only access alternative services in the community. (author abstract)

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