In this commentary originally published in Route Fifty, experts from MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science and BIT North America describe how government agencies can use behavioral science to adapt policies, programs, and services during the continuing pandemic crisis.
How Place-Based Employment Programs like Jobs Plus Can Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Employment programs situated within public housing developments are facing multiple challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With routine operations disrupted by shelter-in-place orders, programs like Jobs Plus can find creative ways to keep their doors open and their clients engaged.
A Better Life is an economic mobility program operating in four housing authorities in Massachusetts. This brief discusses how the program has shifted to meet residents’ dramatically different needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Semistructured interviews involve an interviewer asking some prespecified, open-ended questions, with follow-up questions based on what the interviewee has to say. This Reflections on Methodology post describes a semistructured interview protocol recently used to explore how children who experience poverty perceive their situations, their economic status, and public benefit programs.
Practical Advice from Richard Guare and Colin Guare
This Issue Focus offers guidance to social service programs seeking to help participants progress toward their goals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Techniques are described for alleviating social isolation, communicating remotely, setting and achieving goals, getting medication, assessing workplace safety, applying for public benefits, working from home, and managing grief.
Training Approaches Applied in the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) Demonstration
The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) project integrates procedural justice principles (the idea of fairness in processes) into enforcement at six child support agencies. This brief, intended for child support practitioners and administrators, describes the specialized training provided to staff members at the six participating agencies.
In this commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Sim B. Sitkin considers looking beyond individual client behavior when designing interventions to target program staff and groups of clients as well as entire organizations.
This commentary focuses on an intervention from the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project that aimed to improve child support payment rates in a state-supervised program in Ohio. The author reflects on the availability of the agency’s data, the involvement of staff at all levels, clients’ experiences, and lessons learned.
In this commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Marianne Bertrand talks about the potential for a broader behavioral agenda that would include larger contributions from psychology and could transform public policy in ways that might induce long-term changes in behavior.
When Behavioral Interventions Aren’t Enough
Philip Oreopoulos’s commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project addresses the limitations of written communication and describes the value of personal interactions for building trusting relationships between service providers and clients, which in turn encourage active program participation.