How welfare reform impacts preschool-age children: An analysis of random assignment data from Connecticut

Author/s: 

Susanna Loeb

,

Bruce Fuller

,

Sharon Lynn Kagan

,

Bidemi Abioseh Carrol

Year of Publication: 
2003
Publication: 
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

As welfare-to-work reforms increase women’s labor market attachment, the lives oftheir young children are likely to change. This note draws on a random-assignmentexperiment in Connecticut to ask whether mothers’ rising employment levels and pro-gram participation are associated with changes in young children’s early learning andcognitive growth. Children of mothers who entered Connecticut’s Jobs First program,an initiative with strict 21-month time limits and work incentives, displayed moderateadvantages in their early learning, compared with those in a control group. A numberof potential mechanisms for this effect are explored, including maternal employmentand income, home environment, and child care. Mothers in the new welfare programare more likely to be employed, have higher income, are less likely to be married, havemore children’s books in their home, and take their children to libraries and museumsmore frequently. However, these effects explain little of the observed gain in child out-comes. Other parenting practices and the home’s social environment do explain earlylearning, but these remained unaffected by welfare reform.

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APA Citation

Loeb, S., Fuller, B., Kagan, S. L., & Carrol, B. (2003). How welfare reform impacts preschool-age children: An analysis of random assignment data from Connecticut. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.