Building the Evidence Base on Programs that Support Family and Child Well-Being

Building the Evidence Base on Programs that Support Family and Child Well-Being

Oct 25, 2018
Family Support New Wins 2018

Many low-income families in the United States face challenges associated with unemployment, health, and education disparities. To help overcome these challenges, several federal programs aim to assist these families with employment, self-sufficiency, healthy relationships, and individual well-being. Understanding the effects of these programs, including whether they meet the needs of those they intend to serve, requires a strong partner. Mathematica’s team of seasoned experts has worked closely with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) to uncover the insights practitioners and policymakers need to make informed decisions. We’re continuing to partner with OPRE on a number of new projects that reimagine the way we address the pressing challenges facing low-income families in America, including in following ways:  


Developing a new online clearinghouse of proven and promising welfare-to-work programs

The new “What Works Clearinghouse of Proven and Promising Approaches to Move Welfare Recipients to Work” will assess and distill findings from more than 300 studies on the impacts of employment and training services for people with low income. When it goes live in 2020, the clearinghouse website will provide easy access to the most comprehensive catalog of rigorous evaluations of what works to help people with low income using the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program find and retain jobs. The website especially aims to help state and local service providers easily identify proven or promising programs that are most likely to help the populations they serve, and it will describe basic information about implementing those programs.


Supporting healthy teen decisions about sex

Since 1990, the teen pregnancy rate in the United States has dropped by nearly two-thirds to an all-time low of 20.3 pregnancies per 1,000 females in 2016. With $60 million annually in new grants authorized by Congress under the Sexual Risk Avoidance Education program, ACF chose Mathematica to evaluate these investments and uncover new evidence to inform decisions about the program and future approaches to encourage teens to make healthier choices.


Helping people overcome barriers to employment

Even as the nation experiences near record low unemployment, many job-seekers with complex barriers to employment, such as disabilities, a history of substance abuse, physical or mental health challenges, or criminal records, face ongoing difficulties in finding and keeping a job. In response, ACF chose Mathematica as its partner to conduct a five-year study in which we will identify and rigorously evaluate innovative interventions designed to enhance employment outcomes for these highly vulnerable Americans.


Identifying gaps in what we know about healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood programs

The federal government has made a long-standing commitment to support programs designed to promote healthy relationships and father involvement, with the ultimate aim of improving child well-being. Mathematica has worked alongside ACF to study and improve these programs, including the Parents and Children Together and Strengthening Relationship Education and Marriage Services evaluations. Building on this work, ACF is again partnering with Mathematica on a new five-year effort to consult with experts, practitioners, and other stakeholders; review the existing research evidence; and develop white papers that explore new directions for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood programming.


Read more about how Mathematica helps light the path of progress to better support low-income families.