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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: Golden, Olivia; Loprest, Pamela; Mills, Gregory
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    This report explores workforce and asset development strategies for improving the economic security of extremely vulnerable families, those facing major challenges beyond poverty. Evidence drawn from the authors' own research, their review of relevant literature, and learning sessions conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Center for Community and Economic Opportunity in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Portland, Maine, suggests that programs can succeed at improving the skills and employability of extremely vulnerable parents and increasing their savings to help tide them through emergencies. The paper also highlights opportunities to inform policy and support targeted research to advance this agenda. (author abstract)

    This report explores workforce and asset development strategies for improving the economic security of extremely vulnerable families, those facing major challenges beyond poverty. Evidence drawn from the authors' own research, their review of relevant literature, and learning sessions conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Center for Community and Economic Opportunity in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Portland, Maine, suggests that programs can succeed at improving the skills and employability of extremely vulnerable parents and increasing their savings to help tide them through emergencies. The paper also highlights opportunities to inform policy and support targeted research to advance this agenda. (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)

  • Individual Author: Michalopoulos, Charles; Schwartz, Christine; Adams-Ciardullo, Diana
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    In 1996, Congress radically transformed the nation’s cash assistance welfare program when it passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The legislation replaced the 60-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) entitlement program with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a funding mechanism that provides states with block grants and considerable flexibility in designing their welfare programs. In addition to making other changes, many states responded by expanding their employment and training programs or changing the focus of their existing programs. A number of states replaced voluntary welfare-to-work programs that emphasized education and training with mandatory programs that stressed quick employment.

    While many aspects of the 1996 legislation and the state policies that followed were untested, the use of mandatory welfare-to-work programs was not. During the ten years prior to PRWORA, large-scale rigorous studies of welfare-to-work programs were launched in many states and counties. This report...

    In 1996, Congress radically transformed the nation’s cash assistance welfare program when it passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The legislation replaced the 60-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) entitlement program with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a funding mechanism that provides states with block grants and considerable flexibility in designing their welfare programs. In addition to making other changes, many states responded by expanding their employment and training programs or changing the focus of their existing programs. A number of states replaced voluntary welfare-to-work programs that emphasized education and training with mandatory programs that stressed quick employment.

    While many aspects of the 1996 legislation and the state policies that followed were untested, the use of mandatory welfare-to-work programs was not. During the ten years prior to PRWORA, large-scale rigorous studies of welfare-to-work programs were launched in many states and counties. This report investigates results from 20 of these programs to determine who has benefited from welfare-to-work programs (and who has not) and whether some practices appear more effective than others at increasing the employment and earnings of single-parent welfare recipients.

    The programs studied in this report share two key characteristics. They all required some portion of the welfare caseload to participate in a welfare-to-work program or risk losing some or all of their welfare benefits through sanctions. And they were all studied by the MDRC using a rigorous experimental research design in which individuals were assigned at random either to a program group, which was required to participate in an employment or training program, or to a control group, which did not have access to the program. (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: Scrivener, Susan; Hamilton, Gayle; Farrell, Mary; Freedman, Stephen; Friedlander, Daniel; Mitchell, Marisa; Nudelman, Jodi; Schwartz, Christine
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    As states and localities transform their welfare­-to-­work programs in response to the federal legislation, the need to learn about programs that have moved substantial numbers of people into work and off welfare increases.  The two ­year findings presented in this report show the Portland, Oregon, welfare-­to­-work program run between early 1993 and mid 1996 to be among the most successful large ­scale mandatory welfare-­to-­work programs studied, producing large increases in employment and earnings and equally large reductions in welfare receipt for a broad cross section of the welfare caseload.  The positive effects remained very strong at the end of the two ­year period studied, and preliminary data suggest they will continue into the third year.

    This report is the latest from an evaluation of mandatory welfare-­to-­work programs in seven sites called the National Evaluation of welfare-­to-­work Strategies (NEWWS Evaluation), conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with...

    As states and localities transform their welfare­-to-­work programs in response to the federal legislation, the need to learn about programs that have moved substantial numbers of people into work and off welfare increases.  The two ­year findings presented in this report show the Portland, Oregon, welfare-­to­-work program run between early 1993 and mid 1996 to be among the most successful large ­scale mandatory welfare-­to-­work programs studied, producing large increases in employment and earnings and equally large reductions in welfare receipt for a broad cross section of the welfare caseload.  The positive effects remained very strong at the end of the two ­year period studied, and preliminary data suggest they will continue into the third year.

    This report is the latest from an evaluation of mandatory welfare-­to-­work programs in seven sites called the National Evaluation of welfare-­to-­work Strategies (NEWWS Evaluation), conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with support from the U.S. Department of Education.  The report examines the mandatory welfare­-to-­work program run in Portland (Multnomah and Washington counties).  Through the program, Portland provided employment and support services to a broad cross section of the AFDC caseload, including parents with children as young as one year old.  These people were required to participate in program activities or face reductions in their welfare grants.  Although the program studied was designed and implemented prior to the 1996 reform, its overarching goal was similar to that of the new law:  to foster the self­ sufficiency of adult recipients through increased employment and decreased welfare receipt.  (The program that Portland is running under the 1996 welfare reform law includes some key features of the program studied in this report.

    This report describes the implementation, participation patterns, and cost of the Portland program, and presents estimates of the effects of the program on employment, earnings, and welfare receipt during the two years following people’s entry into the program. To determine the effects of Portland’s program, 5,547 single-parent AFDC applicants and recipients aged 21 and over who attended a program orientation between February 1993 and December 1994 were randomly assigned to either a program group, eligible for program services and subject to participation requirements, or a control group, not eligible for services and not subject to participation requirements (although they could participate in other services in the community). Because randomization makes the two groups similar at the start, any differences in average subsequent outcomes (such as two-year earnings) can be confidently attributed to the effects of the program. These differences, known as program impacts, will be discussed later in the summary and are statistically significant unless otherwise noted. (author abstract)

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