The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) undertook a study of the effectiveness of welfare-to-work programs. The NEWWS evaluation is a study of the effectiveness of eleven mandatory welfare-to-work programs in seven locales: Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; and Riverside, California. Program impacts were evaluated by comparing outcomes for a randomly assigned experimental group subject to program requirements with outcomes for control groups. As part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS), the effects of two approaches to preparing welfare recipients for employment were compared in three sites (Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside). In one approach, the human capital development approach, individuals were directed to avail themselves of education services and, to a lesser extent, occupational training before they sought work, under the theory that they would then be able to get better jobs and keep them longer. In the other approach, the labor force attachment approach, individuals were encouraged to gain quick entry into the labor market, even at low wages, under the theory that their work habits and skills would improve on the job and they would thereby be able to advance themselves. Data from all eleven sites is available.
The evaluation used a random assignment design to get reliable results. Sample members were followed for five years from the time they entered the study. Comprehensive data on economic outcomes, including information on quarterly Unemployment Insurance-reported earnings and monthly Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Food Stamp payments was collected. A broad range of data was collected through surveys including data on educational attainment, family composition, housing status, wage progression, employment, child care, depression, and total family income. In addition, effects on the well-being of the children of the mothers in the study was evaluated. Four types of child outcomes were measured: cognitive development and academic achievement; safety and health; problem behavior and emotional well-being; and social development. Assessments in each of these areas will be compared across research groups two and five years after the mothers entered the survey sample.