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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: Loprest, Pamela J.; Nichols, Austin
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    Families headed by low-income single mothers who are not working or receiving public cash benefits ("disconnected families") are among the most vulnerable in our society. This fact sheet shows that the number of families in this situation is increasing over time. It also describes their income, receipt of noncash benefits like housing and food assistance, living arrangements, and characteristics that may impede work. (author abstract)

    This resource is based on a paper completed under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

    Families headed by low-income single mothers who are not working or receiving public cash benefits ("disconnected families") are among the most vulnerable in our society. This fact sheet shows that the number of families in this situation is increasing over time. It also describes their income, receipt of noncash benefits like housing and food assistance, living arrangements, and characteristics that may impede work. (author abstract)

    This resource is based on a paper completed under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

  • Individual Author: Bloom, Dan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    The budget for the U.S. Department of Labor for Fiscal Year 2010 includes a total of $45 million to support and study transitional jobs. This paper describes the origins of the transitional jobs models that are operating today, reviews the evidence on the effectiveness of this approach and other subsidized employment models, and offers some suggestions regarding the next steps for program design and research. The paper was produced for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by MDRC as part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ project, which includes two random assignment evaluations of transitional jobs programs.

    Transitional jobs programs provide temporary, wage-paying jobs, support services, and job placement help to individuals who have difficulty getting and holding jobs in the regular labor market. Although recent evaluation results have raised doubts about whether TJ programs, as currently designed, are an effective way to improve participants’ long-term employment prospects, the studies have also confirmed that TJ programs can be operated at...

    The budget for the U.S. Department of Labor for Fiscal Year 2010 includes a total of $45 million to support and study transitional jobs. This paper describes the origins of the transitional jobs models that are operating today, reviews the evidence on the effectiveness of this approach and other subsidized employment models, and offers some suggestions regarding the next steps for program design and research. The paper was produced for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by MDRC as part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ project, which includes two random assignment evaluations of transitional jobs programs.

    Transitional jobs programs provide temporary, wage-paying jobs, support services, and job placement help to individuals who have difficulty getting and holding jobs in the regular labor market. Although recent evaluation results have raised doubts about whether TJ programs, as currently designed, are an effective way to improve participants’ long-term employment prospects, the studies have also confirmed that TJ programs can be operated at scale, can create useful work opportunities for very disadvantaged people, and can lead to critical indirect impacts such as reducing recidivism among former prisoners. Thus, in drawing lessons from the recent results, the paper argues that it may be important to think more broadly about the goals of TJ programs while simultaneously testing new strategies that may produce better long-term employment outcomes. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Johnson, Rucker C.; Kalil, Ariel; Dunifon, Rachel E.
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2010

    Johnson, Kalil, and Dunifon focus on this tenuous work-family balance, or lack thereof, and its effects on children. What they discover is that work per se is not detrimental for single-mother families. In fact, it brings stability, routine, and a sense of pride to working women and their families. However, they also find that the nature of the work— the type of work, number of hours worked, and the flexibility of the job—is a key factor in maintaining an acceptable balance and in promoting positive outcomes for their children.

    Basing their findings on the Women's Employment Study (WES), the authors provide evidence of the links between maternal work experiences and longer-run trajectories of child well-being. When a working mother is not on a regular work schedule, has hours that fluctuate from week to week, or works at a full-time job that presents limited wage growth and menial tasks, her children's behavior is more likely to deteriorate. Similar results are seen for those who bounce from job to job or are laid off or fired, since this churning often leads to frequent...

    Johnson, Kalil, and Dunifon focus on this tenuous work-family balance, or lack thereof, and its effects on children. What they discover is that work per se is not detrimental for single-mother families. In fact, it brings stability, routine, and a sense of pride to working women and their families. However, they also find that the nature of the work— the type of work, number of hours worked, and the flexibility of the job—is a key factor in maintaining an acceptable balance and in promoting positive outcomes for their children.

    Basing their findings on the Women's Employment Study (WES), the authors provide evidence of the links between maternal work experiences and longer-run trajectories of child well-being. When a working mother is not on a regular work schedule, has hours that fluctuate from week to week, or works at a full-time job that presents limited wage growth and menial tasks, her children's behavior is more likely to deteriorate. Similar results are seen for those who bounce from job to job or are laid off or fired, since this churning often leads to frequent residential moves. The aspects of child well-being that the unique data from the WES allow the authors to examine include externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems, disruptive behavior at school, school absenteeism, grade repetition, and placement in special education.

    Johnson, Kalil, and Dunifon conclude that more employment opportunities offering the flexibility required by working parents to balance their work and family lives, along with affordable and safe housing, health insurance, and reliable child care, are needed to bolster the economic security and child well-being of low-income working families.

    Overall, this book sheds light on whether one of TANF's original goals—putting low-income mothers on a path to economic growth—is being met. (Publisher abstract)

    Contents

    1. The Road to Welfare Reform

    The Ideological Divide on Helping the Poor

    The New Welfare Bill

    The Response: What about the Children?

    Surprising Results: Caseloads Plummet

    The Low-Wage Job Market

    Mothers’ Work and Children’s Development

    The Focus of this Book

    1. The Women's Employment Study

    The Policy Context in Michigan

    The Data Source: Women’s Employment Study

    Measures

    Snapshot of the Study Participants

    The Connection between Mothers’ Employment and Changes in Child Development

    Empirical Strategy

    1. The Effect of Low-Income Mothers' Employment on Children

    The Juggling Act

    Unpredictable Work Schedules Associated with Behavior Problems

    Job Churn and Associated Risks for Children

    Not All Work Is Detrimental

    Effects of Other Measures

    Recap of Main Results

    1. Conclusions and Policy Implications

    Remaining Puzzles

    Anticipating the Future

    Promising Options – Improving Job Retention and Advancement for Low-Income Working Parents

    Beyond Intervention: Strengthening the Safety Net

     

  • Individual Author: Hendra, Richard; Dillman, Keri-Nicole; Hamilton, Gayle; Lundquist, Erika; Martinson, Karin; Wavelet, Melissa; Hill, Aaron; Williams, Sonya
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    Research completed since the 1980s has yielded substantial knowledge about how to help welfare recipients and other low-income individuals prepare for and find jobs. Many participants in these successful job preparation and placement programs, however, ended up in unstable, low-paying jobs, and little was known about how to effectively help them keep employment and advance in their jobs. The national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project sought to fill this knowledge gap, by examining over a dozen innovative and diverse employment retention and advancement models developed by states and localities for different target groups, to determine whether effective strategies could be identified.

    Using a random assignment research design, the ERA project tested the effectiveness of programs that attempted to promote steady work and career advancement for current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers, most of whom were single mothers. The programs — generally supported by existing public funding, not special demonstration grants — reflected state and...

    Research completed since the 1980s has yielded substantial knowledge about how to help welfare recipients and other low-income individuals prepare for and find jobs. Many participants in these successful job preparation and placement programs, however, ended up in unstable, low-paying jobs, and little was known about how to effectively help them keep employment and advance in their jobs. The national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project sought to fill this knowledge gap, by examining over a dozen innovative and diverse employment retention and advancement models developed by states and localities for different target groups, to determine whether effective strategies could be identified.

    Using a random assignment research design, the ERA project tested the effectiveness of programs that attempted to promote steady work and career advancement for current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers, most of whom were single mothers. The programs — generally supported by existing public funding, not special demonstration grants — reflected state and local choices regarding target populations, goals, ways of providing services, and staffing. The ERA project is being conducted by MDRC, under contract to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. This report presents the final effectiveness findings, or impacts, for 12 of the 16 ERA programs, and it also summarizes how the 12 programs were implemented and individuals’ levels of participation in program services.

    Key Findings

    • Out of the twelve programs included in the report, three ERA programs produced positive economic impacts; nine did not. All three programs increased employment retention and advancement. Increases in employment retention and earnings were largest and most consistent over time in the Texas ERA program in Corpus Christi (one of three sites that operated this program); the Chicago ERA program; and the Riverside County, California, Post-Assistance Self-Sufficiency (PASS) ERA program. These programs increased annual earnings by between 7 percent and 15 percent relative to control group levels. Each of them served a different target group, which suggests that employment retention and advancement programs can work for a range of populations. However, three-fourths of the ERA programs included in this report did not produce gains in targeted outcomes beyond what control group members were able to attain on their own with the existing services and supports available in the ERA sites.
    • Increases in participation beyond control group levels were not consistent or large, which may have made it difficult for the programs to achieve impacts on employment retention and advancement. Engaging individuals in employment and retention services at levels above what they would have done in the absence of the programs was a consistent challenge. In addition, staff had to spend a lot of time and resources on placing unemployed individuals back into jobs, which made it difficult for them to focus on helping those who were already working to keep their jobs or move up.

    Before the ERA project began, there was not much evidence about the types of programs that could improve employment retention and advancement outcomes for current or former welfare recipients. The ERA evaluation provides valuable insights about the nature of retention and advancement problems and it underscores a number of key implementation challenges that a program would have to address. In addition, it reveals shortcomings in a range of common approaches now in use, while identifying three distinct approaches that seem promising and worthy of further exploration. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Farrell, Mary
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2009

    This issue brief provides an in-depth analysis of a sample of welfare recipients in Colorado who left welfare but were not working in 2008. This study is part of a five-year evaluation of Colorado’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program called Colorado Works that The Lewin Group and its partners, the University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center, the Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Policy Studies, and Capital Research Corporation, are conducting for the Colorado Department of Human Services. (Author summary)

    This issue brief provides an in-depth analysis of a sample of welfare recipients in Colorado who left welfare but were not working in 2008. This study is part of a five-year evaluation of Colorado’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program called Colorado Works that The Lewin Group and its partners, the University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center, the Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Policy Studies, and Capital Research Corporation, are conducting for the Colorado Department of Human Services. (Author summary)

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