New Hope for the Working Poor: Effects After Eight Years for Families and Children

Source: Cynthia Miller, Aletha C. Huston, Greg J. Duncan, Vonnie C. McLoyd, and Thomas S. Weisner, MRDC [Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation], July 2008

From the overview:
Conceived of in the late 1980s and implemented in 1994 in two inner-city areas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, New Hope was an innovative program designed to address problems in the low-wage labor market. Based on the simple premise that people who work full time should not be poor, New Hope provided full-time workers with several benefits: an earnings supplement to raise their income above poverty, low-cost health insurance, and subsidized child care. For those unable to find full-time work, the program offered help in finding a job and referral to a wage-paying community service job when necessary. During the demonstration project, each of these benefits was available for up to three years.

New Hope’s designers expected that its combination of benefits and services would have the direct effects of increasing parents’ employment and income and their use of health insurance and licensed child care. These effects, in turn, might influence the well-being of these adults and their families. MDRC, along with researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, UCLA, Northwestern University, and the University of North Carolina, examined New Hope’s effects in a large-scale random assignment study. This report, the final one in a series, summarizes the program’s implementation and effects over eight years — the first three years while the program operated and five years after it had ended. The findings show that work supports can have a range of positive effects on low-income families and their children. Although the economic effects on employment and income lasted for most families only during the three years in which New Hope operated, some effects on children lasted into the longer term…

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