Barden’s research focuses on employment and training, income support, criminal justice, disability, and hard-to-serve populations. Barden’s current projects include the Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration and the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration, two evaluations designed to rigorously test innovative subsidized employment strategies aimed at helping individuals in several low-income target populations make successful transitions from short-term subsidized employment to unsubsidized employment in the regular labor market. Past projects at MDRC include the TANF/SSI Disability Transition Project, which explored the intersection of welfare and disability programs. Prior to joining MDRC, Barden worked at The Lewin Group on projects including an evaluation of Colorado’s TANF program, an experimental study of enhanced English-as-a-second-language instruction for low-literacy adult learners, and a study of refugee-resettlement employment services.
Findings from the B3 Study of a Cognitive Behavioral ProgramSeptember, 2021
This report presents findings from a random assignment evaluation of a program incorporating interactive cognitive-behavioral techniques with job-readiness services for fathers recently involved in the justice system. As implemented in this evaluation, the program did not produce impacts on employment, involvement in the criminal justice system, or parenting.Report
Final Impacts and Costs of the Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment ProgramJuly, 2019
Los Angeles County tested two different models of subsidized employment for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients: one subsidizes the wages of individuals placed at employers in the nonprofit or public sector, and the other offers wage subsidies to for-profit employers. This report offers findings from implementation, impact, and cost studies.Report
Final Impacts of the Next Generation of Subsidized Employment ProgramsMay, 2018
“Transitional jobs” are temporary, subsidized jobs meant to teach participants basic work skills or help them get started with an employer. The Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration tested seven such programs for people recently released from prison or low-income parents behind on child support. This report presents the final impact results.Report
Testing Two Subsidized Employment Approaches for Recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Implementation and Early Impacts of the Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment ProgramNovember, 2016
This report presents implementation findings and interim impact results (after one year) from a random assignment evaluation of subsidized employment for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in Los Angeles County. The study examines the impact of two distinct approaches to subsidized employment.Report
The Enhanced Transitional Jobs DemonstrationNovember, 2016
This demonstration is testing seven enhanced transitional jobs programs that offer temporary, subsidized jobs and comprehensive support to people recently released from prison and unemployed parents behind in child support payments.Report
Innovative Strategies for Serving TANF Recipients with DisabilitiesDecember, 2013
Both Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may serve low-income individuals with disabilities. Yet the two programs’ differences in approach and structure pose challenges to coordinating services. This report describes the implementation and findings of three promising pilot interventions intended to address that problem.ReportDecember, 2013
A sizable portion of the adult TANF population has disabilities, but identifying the needs of clients with disabilities and offering them appropriate services can prove difficult. This brief describes assessment strategies used by local TANF agencies and organizations, discusses their strengths and weaknesses, and offers points to consider in choosing methods.
In recent years, policymakers and other leaders have established new systems intended to divert people experiencing mental health crises away from the criminal legal system before an arrest occurs. While there is some research supporting the effectiveness of police-mental health collaboration models, the evidence is mixed and very little is known about long-term...Bret Barden, Sarah Picard, Michelle S. Manno, Douglas Phillips, Osvaldo Avila, Emily Brennan, Rae Walker, Raul Armenta, Jayce Helpley
Every year, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) provides reentry services for thousands of people involved in the justice system. These services cover a wide variety of needs, ranging from employment services and skills training for individuals on adult felony probation to connections to...Bret Barden, Melanie Skemer, Chloe Anderson Golub, Brit Henderson, Lily Freedman, Emily Brennan, Sarah Picard, Rae Walker
Jurisdictions across the United States are taking steps to reduce the number of people who are detained in jail unnecessarily while awaiting trial. These reforms include the use of risk-assessment tools to inform release decisions and...Sarah Picard, Melanie Skemer, Bret Barden, Chloe Anderson Golub, Brit Henderson, Lily Freedman, Rae Walker, Michelle S. Manno, Raul Armenta, Emily Brennan, Kyla Wasserman
MDRC’s Center for Criminal Justice Research is dedicated to developing, evaluating, and disseminating actionable models for justice reform that improve efficacy, mitigate harm, and center those directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
We are committed to advancing evidence-based, equitable, and accessible solutions, sharing...
Many jurisdictions across the United States are rethinking the “front end” of the criminal justice system — the pretrial period between an arrest and the disposition of a criminal case. Often these reforms focus on the initial decisions that judges and other court stakeholders make about whether to detain individuals in jail while they are awaiting trial, and on the...
MDRC launched a study of New York City’s Supervised Release (SR) program shortly after its citywide rollout in 2016, assessing its effectiveness as it existed before New York State’s bail reform legislation went into effect in 2020. SR offered judges across the five boroughs of New York City...Dan Bloom, Carolyn Hill, Caroline Schultz, Kyla Wasserman, Lily Freedman, Bret Barden, Jennifer (Jenny) Hausler
More than one-third of all children under 18 — about 24 million children — live in single-parent families, the vast majority headed by single mothers. Although there have been improvements (such as automatic deductions from paychecks) in collecting and distributing child support from noncustodial parents (those who do not have physical custody of their children), more...
Cognitive-behavioral approaches have proven effective in promoting change in such areas as criminal behavior and substance abuse in hundreds of studies over the past 25 years. Cognitively focused approaches take aim at thoughts and beliefs that undermine mental health and turn the focus toward solutions. Behavioral skill-building, in contrast, concentrates on changing...Dina A. R. Israel, Michelle S. Manno, Dan Bloom, JoAnn Hsueh, Charles Michalopoulos, Virginia Knox, Erika Lundquist, Electra Small, Rebecca Behrmann, Samantha Wulfsohn, Douglas Phillips, Patrizia Mancini, Emily Brennan, Jillian Verrillo, Bret Barden, Kureem Nugent
Fathers play a unique role in their children’s lives and development, but some fathers face personal or societal barriers to positive involvement with their children — such as low levels of education, stigma from criminal records, declining wages for low-skilled men, or family instability. Responsible Fatherhood programs aim to improve the well-being of low-income...
While welfare agencies and the federal disability system have common goals of supporting people with disabilities and helping them become more independent, the two systems often have diverging interests as well. Differing missions, programmatic and financial challenges, definitions of disability, and rules and incentives related to work make it challenging for the...Dan Bloom, Sally Dai, Bret Barden, Melanie Skemer, David Navarro, Jillian Verrillo, Yana Kusayeva
Some adults have great difficulty finding and holding jobs even when overall economic conditions are good. These individuals typically have low levels of formal education and skills and other characteristics, such as criminal records, that place them at the back of the queue for job openings. Many programs have been developed to assist these job seekers, but few have...Dan Bloom, Richard Hendra, Melanie Skemer, David Navarro, Sally Dai, Bret Barden, Kyla Wasserman, Jillian Verrillo, Chloe Anderson Golub
Over the past 80 years, a variety of subsidized employment strategies have been used for two main purposes: (1) to provide work-based income support for people who are not able to find regular, unsubsidized jobs; and (2) to improve the employability of disadvantaged groups. Programs with the first goal have typically emerged during periods of sustained high...