Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) Next Generation, 2015 - 2022

Project Overview

The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project demonstrated that applying behavioral insights to challenges facing human services programs can improve program operations and outcomes at relatively low cost. The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency-Next Generation (BIAS-NG) project continues ACF’s exploration of the application of behavioral science to the programs and target populations of ACF. This Next Generation project, led by MDRC in collaboration with Lawrence Katz of Harvard University; Marianne Bertrand of the University of Chicago; Judd Kessler of the University of Pennsylvania; and MEF Associates, Child Trends, and Public Strategies is building on the activities and lessons of BIAS in several important ways, including:

  • Working with additional ACF programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child welfare programs, to help them deliver services more efficiently and effectively
  • Going beyond behavioral “nudges,” or subtle and modest changes to programs (such as altering messaging in letters to clients), to consider changes to the way programs are designed and choices are presented to participants
  • Collecting additional information about interventions through, for example, implementation research to better understand how and why the interventions work or do not work
  • Focusing on translating findings into practical lessons for human services practitioners

Current Focus: TANF and Child Welfare

BIAS-NG is initially focusing on designing and testing behavioral interventions for TANF and child welfare programs. TANF interventions will focus on improving recipient engagement in welfare-to-work programs. For child welfare, BIAS-NG will focus on goals that include increasing the supply of qualified foster care placements and engaging families in services that help families remain intact, reunify, or lead to other, permanent placements for children. The BIAS-NG team is currently partnering with three TANF and two child welfare sites that are interested in designing and testing behavioral interventions to address one or more of these challenges. These sites include:

Child welfare

  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
  • Los Angeles County, California


  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Monroe County, New York
  • Washington State

In future project phases, new program areas will be added.

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The points of contact are Kim Clum and Victoria Kabak.

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