The Family Independence Initiative (FII) was developed by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) in 1997 to test the feasibility of implementing work-focused family literacy programs as an educational intervention to assist welfare recipients in meeting the requirements of welfare reform. The FII enhanced the services provided in NCFL’s comprehensive family literacy program, which consists of early childhood education, adult basic and literacy education, Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time, and Parent Time, by incorporating work-preparation and work-experience activities into the adult education component of family literacy. The assumption was that current or former welfare recipients could simultaneously develop their basic skills and learn strategies for obtaining and retaining employment as part of their family literacy experience.
A key factor prompting the development of FII was the policy changes that were part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. This law shifted the focus of the nation’s welfare program from the provision of cash assistance to low-income parents to the promotion of work-preparation services and economic self-sufficiency. Two new mandates were instituted under TANF: a five-year, lifetime limit on adults’ eligibility to receive welfare cash assistance and a requirement that recipients participate in work-preparation services in order to receive the cash assistance. As social programs serving welfare recipients were preparing to address these policy changes, there were few models of service delivery available to help program participants obtain and retain employment, earn sufficient income, and support the economic needs of their families without government cash assistance. As a result, a number of state and local initiatives were developed to explore different welfare-to-work strategies to move welfare recipients into employment…
The FII Follow-up Study had the following objectives:
- To describe FII adult participants’ employment and educational outcomes, parenting practices, and social and community involvement one year after FII participation;
- To describe the employment and educational experiences of participants during the two years after their participation in FII; and
- To describe adult participants’ perceptions of what they learned from FII and its effects on their lives.