Welfare to work research paper

Five years after random assignment, average effects for education-focused programs were still smaller than employment-focused programs. Thus, contrary to what intuition might suggest about the long-term return on investment of education in this context, HCD programs did not close the gap in later years.

Child Care and the Welfare to Work Transition

For high-enforcement education-focused programs, employment gains ranged from 0. MDRC also examined changes in reliance on public assistance, which included reduction in both welfare receipts and benefit amounts. After five years, program group members across all approaches spent less time on welfare and received smaller welfare payments than control group members. In addition, treatment members in all program types received less food stamp assistance than control group members, indicating that recipients did not just shift to another subsidy under work requirements.

Income is perhaps the most important indicator of economic well-being because programs that raise income also decrease the probability of future welfare or other public assistance program reliance, unemployment, and economic hardship. In fact, existing literature illuminates that programs that increase employment without increasing income do not translate into benefits for children.

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Lastly, for two of three mixed strategy programs in NEWWS, there were similar gains across both high school graduate and high school nongraduate subgroups Figure 1. The estimates include earnings, government expenditures, tax revenues, EITC, food stamps, and more. The synthesis included programs from 11 states and two Canadian provinces and over , research sample members. From the government perspective, employment-focused approaches that required job search as the initial activity yielded the highest payoff for governments. Education-focused programs cost significantly more than employment-focused programs that emphasized job search.

From the perspective of the welfare recipient, the mixed strategy approach generated the greatest payoff. This was a significantly larger benefit than mandatory employment or education program benefits. Considering the benefit-costs from a social perspective, employment-focused programs both mandatory work experience and job-first and the mandatory mixed strategy presented benefits that outweigh the costs. If efficiency is a priority, policymakers should prioritize the other three alternatives.

All alternatives demonstrated some success compared to the previous status quo of AFDC control groups were not subjected to any work requirements.


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More specifically, the three strategies increased employment rates and earnings and reduced dependence on welfare, with no evidence of recipients completely shifting to other forms of government subsidization. However, certain work activities have proved to fare better than others. Figure 3 weighs the alternatives against three criteria efficiency, effectiveness, and equity to determine which solution best addresses the underlying problem. Evaluating the alternatives reveals that pure employment strategies perform well on an efficiency basis and mixed strategy approaches score highly based on their effectiveness and equitableness.

HCD approaches, on the other hand, score low or medium-low on all three criteria counts. Considering ample literature on the high return on investment of education in a broader context, this was an unexpected finding. This analysis and conclusions from multiple studies suggest that there is no evidence to support a rigid education or training strategy. However, they also do not justify a rigid employment-focused strategy while mixed strategy approaches show so much promise. Nonetheless, allowable work activities across states indicate that many states have prioritized stricter LFA approaches at the expense of more holistic LFA-HCD alternatives.

The District of Columbia and 24 out of 50 of states limit the extent to which some education or training programs can count toward the majority of the requirement, regardless of recipient needs.

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On the extreme end of this scheme, in states such as Texas, job search is the only allowable activity that may count toward required hours. If mixed strategy approaches are successful because they allow flexibility for recipients to receive services that are more tailored to their needs, or because of some interaction effect between LFA and HCD approaches, then many states are failing to realize potential gains. States may be missing opportunities to maximize payoff for both recipients and government by not supplementing employment-focused programs with education or training plans.

Further analysis should be done to determine what is driving better outcomes: Is the interaction effect between both types of services or the needs assessment aspect most impactful? Are there other dimensions underlying mixed programs that make them particularly effective? Additionally, little research has been done to parcel out the potentially differential impacts of education versus training.

Being able to narrow in on what within mixed strategies is driving more efficient, effective, and equitable outcomes will aid policymakers and administrators in implementation. A paltry amount of literature exists regarding new approaches and it is unclear whether current alternatives addressed in this article would best equip recipients to find stable and quality employment in a 21st century economy.

Work requirements should not be analyzed in isolation. Instead, analysts should examine their effects in tandem with two related policies implemented during the welfare reform: financial sanctions for noncompliance with work requirements and time limits. TANF increased the frequency and severity with which states can place sanctions on individuals who fail to comply with welfare requirements. All states are now required to levy at least partial sanctions on recipients who fail to comply with mandatory work requirements, and most states actually levy sanctions above the minimum federal requirement.

For sanctions to be effective and efficient, recipients must act consistently in making decisions that provide the greatest utility and have perfect and complete information. In the aggregate, it would appear that these assumptions have held and that sanctions have worked. Randomized control trials demonstrate that the most successful work programs have strong enforcement mechanisms such as sanctions, 41 and that low-enforcement programs which have little to no financial penalties rarely raise employment rates above control group levels.

Over time, however, disaggregated data has revealed that sanctions have had adverse consequences on mothers within the lowest end of the income distribution.

Research has also found that mothers who were sanctioned off TANF rolls faced significant barriers to finding and maintaining employment. When compared to other mothers on welfare, they were found to be less likely to have a high school degree or job experience and more likely to have substance addictions, mental health problems, or three or more children. Furthermore, nearly 14 percent , out of 1. This is compared to only 1.

In any event, these results show the need for additional research on sanctions, and beg the question of what can be done to prevent any harmful unintended consequences.

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Though broader reform at the federal level may be necessary, this article will continue to focus on state-level decisions. As it currently stands, states have some flexibility to determine the severity of sanctions they levy. States have the option to impose either full sanctions or partial sanctions. Over time states have increasingly adopted full-family sanctions, ending benefits entirely for families who do not comply with work requirements.

Today, most states levy full sanctions.

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In most of these cases, families must reapply for benefits, and in some cases, repeated noncompliance can lead to a lifetime ban on benefits. This trend makes it challenging to assess the true impacts of full versus partial sanctions. Because of the severity of the penalty, full-family sanctions may be more likely to generate changes in recipient behavior. When partial sanctions are not as effective of an incentive, recipients may end up exhausting months of eligibility prior to the time limit without obtaining needed employment, education, or training services. Most states have implemented extensive reconciliation or review processes to minimize risk of error, and full sanctions better help to recoup these administrative costs.

Since some of the most disadvantaged groups in welfare disproportionately experience sanctions, partial sanctions can decrease the likelihood that families with the most serious employment barriers will simply exit from welfare without receiving needed services and support. There has not been a cost-benefit analysis to determine to what extent full sanctions actually recoup transaction costs and other administrative costs above and beyond partial sanctions.

Since PRWORA went into effect, there has been one major study on sanctions that provides greater insight into the arguments above. Conducted by the University of Maryland Department of Family Studies in , the evaluation ultimately found that there was no association between stricter sanction policies and work-related welfare exits. Research data — that is, legislation and law-making documents—serve as the indicators of generational change and child welfare in time and place. While constructing the textual material, the methodological division into the archaeological and genealogical approaches was applied.

Child support and Welfare to Work reforms

This setting creates a multifaceted task for child welfare that reaches beyond its explicit and institutional role and must be viewed in light of the goal-oriented policies that form a specific register of governing child welfare in time and place. The focus is on the discursively The focus is on the discursively produced knowledge on violence in intimate relationships in the context of child welfare assessments.

Findings The analysis of this research addresses risk assessment approaches in the context of child welfare systems and the prevailing understandings of violence in intimate relationships they generate, as well as those that are open up for contestation when children are in focus of analysis. Conclusion Multifaceted approaches across disciplines, cultures as well as a merging of theory and practice are commonly advocated approaches towards complex social problems.

The analysis indicates what is considered to be legitimate evidence-based practice in these contexts and what kind of understandings of domestic violence are generated in the context of child welfare assessments. Whether on the basis of embodied categories such as race or gender, or through diagnoses and suffering bodies, the body is said to constitute the political battleground for social in- and exclusion. This study is inspired methodologically I examine two analytically separated moral economies, the moral economy of care versus justice, as they manifest in child welfare responses to bodily vulnerability.


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Furthermore, a differentiation in the moralities mobilized when different child bodies are addressed suggests that a version of a moral economy of justice, i. While central for a critical social work, equality, social justice and rights issues are downplayed in assessments, and largely lack corresponding welfare measures.