The Breaking Barriers program, based in San Diego, provided employment services to lower-income individuals with disabilities. MDRC carried out a random assignment evaluation of the program. As part of the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Low-income Families project, MDRC is collecting additional administrative records to extend the original evaluation.
Home Visiting and Coordinated and Integrated Early Childhood Systems
Funders at all levels are investing in programs to support expectant parents and families with young children. MDRC is conducting research in that field in three areas: integrating systems of services that work together, getting families and children the right services, and building evidence about promising models.
Implementing Individual Placement and Support in a Workforce Setting
Breaking Barriers was a San Diego-based program that provided employment services to low-income individuals with a range of disabilities or other health conditions. Preliminary analyses based on a survey found that the program did not have an impact on the primary outcomes measured — employment, length of employment, and total earnings — during a 15-month follow-up period.
Findings from Family Rewards 2.0
A program in Memphis and the Bronx offered cash incentives, coupled with family guidance, to poor families for meeting certain health care, education, and work milestones. The program increased income and reduced poverty, increased dental visits and health status, reduced employment somewhat, and had few effects on students’ education.
A Conditional Cash Transfer Program in Two American Cities
This program spent a little over a dollar to transfer one dollar in cash rewards to families who met the required benchmarks. These rewards produced positive effects on some outcomes, but left others unchanged. While the program benefited participating families, the cost to taxpayers exceeded the economic value of these effects.
An Implementation Study of Children’s Institute, Inc.
Children’s Institute, Inc., combines clinical mental health and other supportive services to meet the holistic needs of children affected by trauma. This report describes the implementation of the service model and includes an in-depth fidelity study of its Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy services.
What Worked, What Didn’t
Family Rewards offered cash incentives to low-income families to reduce both current and longer-term poverty, contingent on families’ efforts to build up their “human capital” through children’s education, preventive health care, and parents’ employment. While the program produced some positive effects on some outcomes, it left many outcomes unchanged.
This program aimed to improve health care quality and reduce Medicaid costs for high-needs Medicaid recipients in New York by helping them use appropriate care that would reduce hospital admissions and emergency department visits. The program did not appear to reduce Medicaid costs or care from hospitals and emergency departments.
The Importance of Evidence
In this essay, adapted from remarks made to the Growth Philanthropy Network/Social Impact Exchange 2014 Conference on Scaling Impact, MDRC President Gordon Berlin explains why developing reliable evidence of effectiveness is critical when expanding programs to a large scale.
Both Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income serve low-income individuals with disabilities. Yet the programs’ differences in approach and structure pose challenges to coordinating services. The Administration for Children and Families and the Social Security Administration contracted with MDRC and its partners to conduct the TANF/SSI Disability Transition Project. Five publications from the project have just been released.