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Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-City Study

Project publications and details are available at the web site of our partnering institution, Johns Hopkins University:

http://www.jhu.edu/~welfare/

For information about the book Poor Families in America’s Health Care Crisis by Ron Angel, Laura Lein and Jane Henrici, click below:

http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=052183774X

Click below to read the article:

"Economic Roulette: When is a Job Not a Job?"

PROJECT SUMMARY

This research project is an intensive study in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio to better understand the effects of welfare reform on the well-being of children and families and to follow these families as welfare reform evolves. We will investigate the strategies used to respond to reform, in terms of employment, schooling or other forms of training, residential mobility, and fertility. We will also examine the effects of these strategies on children's lives, with an emphasis on their health and development as well as their need for, and use of, social services.

The study comprises three interrelated components: longitudinal surveys, embedded development studies, and contextual, comparative ethnographic studies.

The first round of interviews for the main survey and EDS were conducted from March 1999 until December 1999. Fieldwork in the ethnography component began in fall 1999 and is ongoing.

Longitudinal surveys:

Between March 1999 and December 1999 we interviewed a random sample of approximately 2,400 households with children in low-income neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio. Forty percent of the families interviewed were receiving cash welfare payments at the time of the interview. Each household had a child age 0 to 4 or 10 to 14 at the time of the interview, who, along with the child's caregiver, are the focus of our attention. We gathered extensive baseline information at the initial personal interview with the adults, we tested and assessed younger children, and interviewed older children. Round one of the survey was completed in December 1999. Round two is scheduled to begin in September 2000 and be in the field until February 2001. Round three of the survey is scheduled to begin in March 2002.

Embedded developmental study:

In order to improve the breadth and depth of the child evaluations, this research project includes an embedded development study with approximately 700 children age 2 to 4. The EDS component incorporates videotaping and coding of caregiver-child interactions, time-diary studies, and observations of child-care settings.

Comparative ethnographies:

We are currently conducting comparative ethnographic studies in each city with a total of 215 families to assess how, over time, changes in welfare policy influence neighborhood resources and affect the daily lives of welfare-dependent and working-poor families and children. Using block groups selected for the survey, we carefully selected the families and neighborhoods to be comparable across cities and also to the survey samples. We will follow the families throughout the four years of the project. About 45 of these families will include a child with a disablitity; and we expect that a substantial number of the other families in the ethnography will include an adult with a disability. By observing these families, we will examine the consequences of welfare reform for families that include an individual with a disability.

Coordination and dissemination:

Because of the potential importance of the findings from our project, we are committed to disseminating our results in a timely manner, and in a form that is accessible to a broad audience. Moreover, we expect to acquire city- and neighborhood-specific insights on how particular welfare rules (such as family caps and work requirements) are being implemented and how poor families are responding to this implementation. We hope this information will prove useful to policy makers, case workers, agency professionals, and service providers as they work to interpret the results of welfare reform and to adapt programs to the changing needs of welfare- dependent and working-poor families and children.

NOTE: From Johns Hopkins University web site