Wasserman is a researcher in the Youth Development, Criminal Justice, and Employment policy area at MDRC. Her responsibilities include designing implementation research studies, conducting qualitative data collection and analysis, delivering technical assistance to programs taking part in MDRC evaluations, and providing overall project management. She was the lead author and implementation researcher for MDRC’s evaluation of a violence-prevention program for young men involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems in Chicago, and she has served as an implementation researcher on other MDRC evaluations of programs for disconnected young adults and those involved in the justice and foster care systems, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Learn and Earn to Achieve Employment (LEAP). Her current projects include the Families Forward Demonstration, an employment program for noncustodial parents who have difficulty paying their child support due to low earnings, and LEAP, a study of two program models being adapted to help young people obtain high school credentials or begin postsecondary education. Wasserman holds a master’s degree in anthropology from the New School for Social Research and a bachelor’s degree from Bard College.
MDRC PublicationsReportMarch, 2023
Roca Baltimore works with young men who have been involved in the justice system and who are at high risk of violence. This report draws on interviews with participants to present a picture of the men Roca Baltimore serves and the ways it works with them.Brief
Partnering with Young People to Study Persistence and Engagement in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential InitiativeJuly, 2021
Participatory research—including members of a group being studied—recognizes that people closest to a problem have unique perspectives and knowledge. MDRC collaborated with a group of youth fellows in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential project, and found that this approach can lead to better evaluation results.Brief
Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Address Trauma and Reduce Violence Among Baltimore’s Young Men
A Profile of Roca BaltimoreJuly, 2021
Roca Baltimore works with young men who have been involved in the justice system and who are at high risk of violence. MDRC is partnering with Roca to evaluate its implementation and participant outcomes. This brief describes the program model, the young men it serves, and its local context.Issue FocusJune, 2021
Unemployed or underemployed parents have trouble paying child support. In the Families Forward Demonstration, child support agencies sought to help parents get better jobs and increase their earnings by teaching job skills needed by local employers. The questions arising from the project may help other agencies evaluate prospective job training partners.Report
A Partnership Between Child Support Agencies and Local Service ProvidersApril, 2021
The Families Forward Demonstration examined strategies to help parents with low and middle incomes make reliable child support payments by increasing employment and earnings. The model, which emphasized free occupational training activities, shows promise for helping parents qualify for jobs in their chosen fields and for improving child support compliance.Issue FocusFebruary, 2021
New approaches to child support enforcement aim to be less punitive and to serve the whole family, not just child support recipients. Lessons from Washington State’s Alternative Solutions Program show how this shift in perspective has made a difference during the pandemic.Issue FocusDecember, 2020
When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.Report
Building Evidence-Based Strategies to Improve Employment Outcomes for Individuals With Substance Use DisordersDecember, 2020
This report from the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Low-Income Families project examines programs that integrate employment services with treatment and recovery services for people with substance use disorders. It explores the role employment plays in recovery and reviews limited but promising evidence on the effectiveness of these integrated programs.Brief
Findings from a Pilot Program in New York CityDecember, 2019
Bridging Access to Benefits and Care — a collaboration among three nonprofit organizations — was designed to improve connections to public benefits and health care services for people dependent on opioids and intravenous drugs in the Bronx. This brief presents findings from an MDRC study of the pilot program’s implementation.Report
Lessons on Adapting Interventions for Young People Experiencing Homelessness or Systems InvolvementSeptember, 2019
Young people who experience homelessness or involvement in foster care or justice systems face unique challenges. The Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP)TM initiative aims to help this population reach its full potential. An MDRC evaluation of two programs adapted by 10 LEAP grantees will contribute knowledge to this field.Report
A Feasibility Study of the Bridges to Pathways ProgramSeptember, 2019
In a program to reduce criminal justice involvement, participants received mentoring, case management, subsidized internships, and the opportunity to earn a high school credential. The program reduced the arrest rate for felonies and violent crimes but did not affect overall rates of arrest or incarceration, educational or training certification, or employment.
ProjectsMegan Millenky, Lily Freedman, Caroline Mage, Douglas Phillips, Kyla Wasserman, Emily Brennan, Susan Scrivener, Viktoriya Syrov, Shelley Rappaport
A variety of organizations have developed a wide range of programs and services tailored towards addressing the health, economic success, and broader well-being of individuals with substance use disorders. Individuals with a substance use disorders often experience barriers that make finding and maintaining stable employment a challenge, a problem that was only...
Jurisdictions across the country are striving to increase equity in their pretrial justice systems by reducing their use of pretrial detention and money bail, which affect Black people and other people of color disproportionately and are linked to negative health and well-being outcomes. Despite the intentions of these reforms, there is little rigorous evidence...
Roca, Inc. delivers services to young men between the ages of 16 and 25 who are involved in the justice system and who are at a high risk of being incarcerated or reincarcerated. Roca uses a cognitive behavioral intervention model that aims to create behavioral change in such young men. Its four-year program starts with two years of...
The Bridging Access to Benefits and Care (BABC) project is a partnership among three organizations: Acacia Network (Acacia), St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction (SACHR), and Seedco. It is designed to address the social determinants of health for a vulnerable and disenfranchised, opioid-dependent population in the Bronx...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...Megan Millenky, Dan Bloom, Susan Scrivener, Charles Michalopoulos, Dina A. R. Israel, Johanna Walter, Lauren Cates, Sally Dai, Caroline Mage, Emily Marano, Viktoriya Syrov, Douglas Phillips, Kyla Wasserman, Lily Freedman, Osvaldo Avila, Emily Brennan, Jillian Verrillo, Gilda Azurdia, Frieda Molina, Shelley Rappaport, Clinton Key, Nandita Verma, Cynthia Miller, Jared Smith, Shawna Anderson, Kelsey Schaberg, Caitlin Anzelone, James A. Riccio, Keri West, Caroline Schultz, Ethan Feldman
Many Americans struggle in the labor market even when overall economic conditions are good. Unemployment is persistently high for some demographic groups and in certain geographic areas, and a large proportion of...
The Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) project is a three-year nationwide program that provides education and employment services to young people ages 14-25 who are homeless or “systems-involved” — that is, young people who are aging out of the foster care system or who are otherwise involved in the child welfare, criminal justice, or...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...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...