Oct 17, 2001


JOBS was a program of services designed to enhance welfare-receiving
parents’ job skills and opportunities. One variation of JOBS promoted the rapid
acquisition of employment; the second emphasized education and job training.
Both variations had case management, mandated program activity, and child care
assistance components. A large-scale experimental evaluation shows that family
participation has negative impacts on reports of children’s health and safety,
generally positive impacts on children’s cognitive and academic outcomes, and a
mix of positive and negative impacts on children’s behavioral and emotional outcomes.


Families receiving welfare

Under the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training Program (JOBS)-created as
part of the Family Support Act of 1988-welfare recipients were provided, and
required to participate in, education, training, and job search activities as a
condition of receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
Specifically, JOBS was designed to provide either job training and education or
the quick acquisition of a job for those receiving welfare. The JOBS program
condition was designed to be different from participation in welfare receipt in
general (i.e., the control group in the evaluation described below) in that it
provided special messages and case management, it mandated participation in
JOBS program activities, it provided access to particular work preparation
activities, and it assured eligibility for child care assistance to its

JOBS was replaced by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996, shifting the emphasis from job training to
job placement (Brooks-Gunn, Britto, & Brady, 1999). However, an evaluation
of JOBS provides valuable lessons on the efficacy of parental education and job
training in alleviating poverty and altering child development.

Evaluated population: Over 3,000 families with preschool-age children in
Atlanta, GA, Grand Rapids, MI, and Riverside, CA were studied for the Child
Outcomes Study of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies.

Mothers were randomly assigned to one of three programs between 1991 and 1994.
The first was a JOBS program that emphasized the rapid acquisition of
employment (the “labor force attachment” approach); the second was a
JOBS program that emphasized longer-term training and education (the
“human capital development” approach); and the third was the
traditional AFDC (control group). Two years later, child outcomes such as
cognitive development, academic achievement, behavior, emotional development,
health, and safety, were assessed. Assessments consisted of cognitive testing
of the children and mother reports (Zaslow, McGroder, & Moore, 2000).

Participation in JOBS had negative or null impacts on children’s physical
health and safety ratings, generally positive impacts on children’s cognitive
development and academic achievement, and an overall mix of positive and
negative impacts on behavioral and emotional development. Outcomes varied by
site, and by the type of JOBS experimental condition. The human capital
development approach, in particular, produced favorable impacts on children’s
cognitive school readiness tests; the labor force attachment approach had
negative impacts on children’s behavioral outcomes (Zaslow, McGroder, &
Moore, 2000).



Brooks-Gunn, J., Britto, P. R., & Brady, C. (1999). Struggling to make ends
meet: Poverty and child development. In M.E. Lamb (Ed.), Parenting and child
development in “nontraditional” families
(pp. 279-304). Mahwah,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Zaslow, M. J., McGroder, S. M., & Moore, K. A. (2000). The national
evaluation of welfare-to-work strategies: Impacts on young children and their
families two years after enrollment: Findings from the Child Outcomes Study

[Online]. Available on the World Wide Web at: <a

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

Child Trends. (2001). School readiness: Helping
communities get children ready for school and schools ready for children
(Research brief).Washington, DC: Child Trends.

Halle, T., Zaff, J., Calkins, J., & Margie, N. G.
(2000). Background for community-level work on school readiness: A review of
definitions, assessments, and investment strategies. Part II: Reviewing the
literature on contributing factors to school readiness
. Washington, DC:

Child Trends, Inc.

KEYWORDS: Children, Toddlers, Clinic/Provider-Based, Social/Emotional Health, Other Physical Health, Parent Training/Education, Child Care

Program information last updated 10/17/01.