As the first major effort to use a behavioral economics lens to examine human services programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States, the BIAS project demonstrated the value of applying behavioral insights to improve the efficacy of human services programs.
The Work of MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science
This issue focus describes how MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science has completed several large-scale field studies, incorporated behavioral science into other MDRC projects, and educated policymakers and practitioners about how to use behavioral science to improve their programs.
Improving Math Instruction in New York City
An evidence-based preschool math curriculum called Building Blocks, combined with ongoing professional development, was compared with “business as usual” pre-K programs across 69 public schools and community-based organizations. This report contains interim findings on the implementation of the model, the amount and quality of its math instruction, and children’s learning outcomes.
Using Behavioral Science to Improve Indiana’s Child Care Subsidy Program
Three behavioral interventions targeting low-income parents receiving child care subsidies were tested in Indiana. One combining mailed materials and a phone call increased the percentage of parents who chose a highly rated child care provider, and two others increased the percentage of parents who attended their first scheduled subsidy redetermination appointment.
Using Behavioral Economics to Increase On-Time Child Care Subsidy Renewals
This study assessed three different behavioral strategies for providers and clients aimed at increasing the timely renewal of child care subsidies, in order to ensure consistent client services. The findings suggest that strategies designed for staff who work directly with clients may be a fruitful area for future work.
A Summary of Impact and Implementation Findings from Head Start CARES
This two-page issue focus summarizes the main findings from Head Start CARES, a test of three distinct classroom-based approaches to enhancing children’s social-emotional development: Incredible Years Teacher Training Program, Preschool PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), and Tools of the Mind–Play.