Program

Aug 07, 2003

OVERVIEW

The Ohio Learning, Earning, and Parenting (LEAP) Program was designed to promote school attendance in pregnant and parenting teens on welfare, with the ultimate goal of producing improved employment outcomes and consequent reductions in welfare dependence. LEAP provided financial incentives for educational achievement, case management, and support services such as child care and transportation assistance. Experimental evaluations showed that participation in LEAP had positive impacts on school enrollment, school attendance, college enrollment, and welfare participation. For the subgroups of participants who were enrolled in school at the time of program enrollment, there were also significant positive impacts on high school graduation and GED attainment rates as well as employment-related outcomes.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGAM

Target population: Teen mothers (under 20) on welfare without a GED or high school diploma.

The Ohio Learning, Earning, and Parenting (LEAP) Program was designed to promote school attendance in pregnant and parenting teens (under 20) on welfare. The design was intended to improve academic outcomes for participants in order to eventually produce improved employment outcomes and consequent reductions in welfare dependence. LEAP provided a financial incentive for teens to enroll in school or a GED program, as well as a financial incentive for every month in which they stayed in school. Additionally, LEAP provided a case manager for each participant and, if approved by that case manager, the program also provided child care and transportation assistance.

Nationwide, 10,000 teens have participated in LEAP.

Component Provided by Duration Description
Financial incentive Throughout the program Teens were given $62 more in welfare payments for enrolling in school or a GED program and an additional $62 in welfare payments for every month they stay in school. If teens did not meet attendance requirements, they did not receive this financial incentive. Teens who failed to verify that they are enrolled in school had $62 deducted from their welfare check every month until they complied.
Case management Case manager Throughout the program Teens were assigned a case manager who monitored program compliance and assists with barriers to school attendance.
Child care and transportation assistance Program Throughout the program Transportation and child care were available to help teens attend school. These services were provided only upon case manager approval.

* Other services may have been provided by schools, educational programs, or other agencies. These services would also have been available to youth in the control group.

Costs:
The net cost of the program was $1,388 per teen over the course of 22.3 months or $747 per year. Net cost is the amount spent per treatment group member over and above the amount spent per control group member. One evaluation states that LEAP recovered its program costs through a decrease in AFDC payments, food stamps, and Medicaid costs to program participants.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

STUDY 1: Bloom, D., Fellerath, V., Long, D., & Wood, R.G. (1993). LEAP: Interim findings on a welfare initiative to improve school attendance among teenage parents. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Evaluated population: 7,017 teens were randomly assigned to a program group or a control group: 5,611 teens (80 percent) to a program group and 1,406 teens (20 percent) to a control group. This ratio was used to minimize the number of teens not receiving LEAP services yet still provide enough participants for statistical analyses.

Objective:
To determine the impacts of the financial incentives and sanctions on school enrollment and attendance. Also to determine whether the program has effects on school completion.

Measurement instrument:
In-person and phone surveys, GED testing data, focus groups, high school and adult education data, LEAP and AFDC case file data, and staff interviews/field research.
Evaluation:
Type: Experimental
Statistical techniques: Chi-square, F-test, t-test.
Significance level: p = .10
Outcome:
Incentives and sanctions:
Ninety-three percent of teens in the program received at least one financial incentive or sanction while in LEAP; most earned incentives as opposed to sanctions. Seventy-five percent of teens earned at least one bonus and 56 percent of teens received at least one sanction. In addition, 37 percent of teens received only incentives, while 18 percent received only sanctions.

The program found discrepancies between having earned an incentive or received a sanction and actual changes in teens’ monthly payments. This situation arose because case managers monitored program compliance but did not directly process incentives or sanctions. As a result, some participants never received their incentives or sanctions. The problem varied by county; in Cuyahoga County, for instance, approximately 50 percent of incentives and sanctions were actually processed.

Some teens continued receiving sanctions but never complied with LEAP requirements. This group comprised mainly students who had dropped out of high school for over a year. The researchers concluded that LEAP was unable to reach approximately 13 percent of teens.

In a survey, approximately 50 percent of teens viewed LEAP as fair and 33 percent labeled it unfair. The data indicate that teens who had received sanctions had more negative views of LEAP.

Less than 20 percent of teens took advantage of the child care assistance offered by LEAP.

School attendance, enrollment:
LEAP increased both retention in school and the number of students returning to school. Among teens who were already in school, program participants were 10.3 percent more likely than control group members to remain enrolled for at least 10 of the 12 months. Among teens who had dropped out of school, program participants were 13.4 percent more likely than control group members to return to school. These differences are statistically significant.

Participants who had dropped out of school for over a year were significantly more likely to start an adult education program than control group members: 32.7 percent vs. 18.4 percent.

LEAP also increased attendance: On average, LEAP participants attended 1.5 days more of school or adult education than control group members, a significant difference.

High school completion and GED attainment:

The data on performance in school indicate that participants had significantly higher rates of graduation than control students, as well as significantly higher rates of GED attainment. For the 1989-1990 and 1990-1991 school years, 26.3 percent of participants graduated from high school vs. 19.3 percent of control group members. Similarly, 3.9 percent of participants achieved a GED, while only 2.4 percent of control teens did.

STUDY 2: Long, D., Gueron, J.M., Wood, R.G., Fisher, R., & Fellerath, V. (1996). LEAP: Three-year impacts of Ohio’s welfare initiative to improve school attendance among teenage parents. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Evaluated population: 5,575 teens were evaluated in this study. The remaining 1,442 teens from the original random sample were not evaluated because they had only participated in LEAP during its start-up phase, when the rules were different. In the original evaluation, 80 percent of teens were assigned to a program group and 20 percent were assigned to a control group.

Objective:
To determine the experiences of LEAP teens and control teens 3 years into program implementation. This study examines the effects of LEAP on the attainment of a GED, college enrollment, training, employment and earnings, welfare receipt, family composition, and income.

Measurement instrument:
Telephone and in-person surveys, school records
Evaluation:
Type: Experimental
Statistical techniques: T-test, F-test
Significance level: p = .10
Outcome:
Incentives and sanctions:
Most participants received incentives (75 percent) or sanctions (56 percent). Overall, 93 percent of teens received at least one sanction or incentive. Teens who were in school at the time of enrollment in LEAP were less likely to receive a sanction than teens who had dropped out of school. In Cleveland, approximately 56 percent of teens in school at the time of enrollment in LEAP received only incentives or more incentives than sanctions, compared to 29 percent of teens who were not enrolled in school.

The sanctions imposed on teens led to less spending on the family’s essentials such as clothing, food, and medicine, which appears to have affected the child(ren) as much as the parent. Among teens with four or more sanctions who coped with the loss of money by spending less on essentials, over 80 percent reported that either the parent and the child, or the child exclusively, were affected. Incentives led to increased spending on essentials-and occasionally “luxuries”-most of which was typically to benefit their child(ren). Among teens with four or more incentives who spent the extra money on essentials, over 80 percent reported having purchased essentials that would benefit either the parent and the child, or the child exclusively.

High school completion and GED attainment:
Participants were significantly more likely than control teens to have enrolled in school and tohave attended though 11th grade (50 percent vs. 45.4 percent), but LEAP did not have any significant effect on high school graduation. Participants attained a significantly higher grade level (10.34) than control teens (10.22).

There were no significant differences in GED attainment or high school graduation. The data indicate that 66 percent of participants and 68.1 percent of control teens had not received a high school diploma or GED at the 3-year survey. Approximately 23 percent of participants and 24 percent of control teens completed high school; 11 percent of participants and 8 percent of control teens received a GED.

Participants who were in school at the time of enrollment in LEAP were significantly more likely to complete high school or attain a GED (45.6 percent vs. 38.6 percent). Furthermore, participants who had dropped out of school at the time of enrollment in LEAP were significantly more likely than their counterparts in the control group to complete grade 11 (35.8 percent vs. 28.0 percent).

Impacts on high school completion varied from site to site.

Employment, welfare receipt, and college enrollment:
Participants were significantly more likely than control teens to be working and significantly less likely to be receiving AFDC at the 3-year survey: 33.2 percent of participants vs. 27.6 percent of control teens had been employed within the past 3 months, and 83.8 percent of participants vs. 87.6 percent of control teens were receiving AFDC.

The employment findings can be attributed largely to the teens who were in school at the time of enrollment in the program. For this group, LEAP increased employment rates significantly (by 38.9 percent vs. 27.4 percent for control teens). LEAP had no significant impacts on the employment rate of participants who had dropped out of school at the time of enrollment in the program.

LEAP had significant impacts on college enrollment at only one site, Cleveland. At this site, 20.6 percent of participants and 11.8 percent of control teens enrolled in college.

The impacts of this study suggest that LEAP has the greatest benefits for teens who have not yet left school.

STUDY 3: Bos, J.M., & Fellerath, V. (1997). LEAP: Final report on Ohio’s welfare initiative to improve school attendance among teenage parents. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Evaluated population: 4,151 teens who were randomly assigned to a program group or a control group during the second year of LEAP; 3,479 teens were assigned to the program group and 672 teens were assigned to the control group. This study reports the results of a 3-year follow up after the program’s end.

Objective:
To examine the long-term effects of LEAP on employment, earnings, and welfare receipt and to provide a cost-benefit analysis of the program.

Measurement instrument:
Administrative records (e.g., unemployment insurance earnings records, AFDC payment records), telephone and in-person interviews, self-report surveys
Evaluation:
Type: Experimental
Statistical techniques: t-test, regression analysis, chi-square
Significance level: p = .10
Outcomes:
LEAP had positive effects on school attendance and enrollment:
At the 3-year follow-up, participants were significantly more likely (4.6 percentage points) to have completed 9th, 10th, and 11th grade than those in the control group. Fifty percent of LEAP teens and 45.4 percent of control teens completed 11th grade.

The program had mixed effects on high school graduation or GED attainment:
Participants who were in school when they entered LEAP were significantly more likely to have received their GED at the 3-year survey than their counterparts in the control group (10.0 percent vs. 4.4 percent), but LEAP had no significant effects on the high school graduation rate of this subgroup. For teens who were not in school at the beginning of LEAP, the program had no significant effects on high school graduation or GED attainment. Overall, 34 percent of participants received a GED or high school diploma; however, there was no significant difference between the control group and the experimental group.

The program had mixed effects on employment and earnings:
Participants initially enrolled in school fared better than participants who were not initially in school. Participants initially in school were significantly more likely to be employed over the 3-year follow up than control teens (4.41 percent vs. 4.03 percent), although participants’ overall earnings were not significantly higher. There were no significant differences between participants who were not in school at the time of enrollment and the control teens. LEAP’s impacts seem to have been greatest for those under age 18 at the time of assignment to the program, although the impacts on earnings were greatest for those who were age 17 and in school at the time of assignment. It is possible that employment impacts for those under 17 did not translate into comparable earnings gains because many of them might still have been in school at the end of the follow-up period. There was a marginally significant positive effect for black participants who were not initially enrolled in school, compared to non-black participants who were not initially enrolled in school, especially in the area of earnings.

AFDC receipt:
Participants were less likely to be on welfare than teens in the control group. During years 3 and 4, participants were on welfare significantly less time than control group members: an average of 15.27 months vs. 16.03 months, which amounts to a 4.7 percent reduction relative to the control group. Furthermore, participants received less welfare than control group members: an average of $5,185 vs. $5,459 in years 3 and 4. AFDC receipt varied significantly by age; it was highest for participants age 15 or 16 when assigned to the program because of a $596 reduction in benefits received during years 3 and 4.

Cost-benefit analysis:
The program recovered its costs in savings on AFDC, food stamps, and Medicaid. Data indicated that the average net cost per participant was -$1,110 over the 4 years from program start to 3-year follow-up. This combines the costs of the program and the money saved from sanctions and participants’ not being on welfare.

Other Information:

LEAP appears to be most beneficial for the subgroup of teens who were in school at the time of enrollment in the program.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Bos, J.M., & Fellerath, V. (1997). LEAP: Final report on Ohio’s welfare initiative to improve school attendance among teenage parents. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Bloom, D., Fellerath, V., Long, D., & Wood, R.G. (1993). LEAP: Interim findings on a welfare initiative to improve school attendance among teenage parents. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Long, D., Gueron, J.M., Wood, R.G., Fisher, R., & Fellerath, V. (1996). LEAP: Three-year impacts of Ohio’s welfare initiative to improve school attendance among teenage parents. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation’s LEAP website: http://www.mdrc.org/project/ohios-learning-earning-and-parenting-program#featured_content

Program also discussed in the following Child Trends publication(s):

Hair,
E., Ling, T., & Cochran, S. W. (2003). Youth development programs serving
educationally disadvantaged youth: A synthesis of experimental evaluations.

Washington, DC: Child Trends.

 

KEYWORDS: Youth, Adolescents, Black/African American, Clinic/Provider-based, Child Care, Case Management, High School Completion/Dropout, College Enrollment/Preparation, Social Skills/Life Skills

Program information last updated 8/7/03.

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