Program

May 12, 2006

OVERVIEW

MFIP was a pilot welfare reform program designed to function
as a replacement for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program
in certain Minnesota
counties between 1994 and 1998. The program was designed to provide
participants with generous financial rewards for work, mandatory employment
services, and various other services that were variations on AFDC
services. A large experimental study indicated that participation in MFIP
led to several positive parent and child outcomes for families that had
experienced long-term welfare receipt. For single mothers in these families,
participation in MFIP produced more positive employment, earnings, marriage,
and domestic violence impacts than for their peers in the control group
receiving AFDC. The children in these families experienced more positive
educational and behavioral impacts than their control group peers in families
receiving AFDC. There were far fewer significantly positive outcomes for
families that had received welfare for shorter periods of time.

DESCRIPTION OF
PROGRAM

Target population: Families on social welfare

The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), implemented
between 1994 and 1998, was designed to function as a replacement for the
traditional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program (Knox,
Miller, & Gennetian, 2000). The program
differed from AFDC in that it provided (a) generous financial rewards for work
through enhanced earnings disregards, (b) mandatory participation in
employment-focused services for parents who were not working full-time and had experienced
“long-term” welfare receipt, and (c) simplified rules and procedures for the
other social services participants received (Gennetian
& Miller, 2000). MFIP also provided child care assistance directly to
participating families’ child care providers, changed asset and vehicle limits,
and equalized cash assistance eligibility rules between single- and two-parent
families.

MFIP was designed to provide slightly different services
according to whether the participant family was a long-term welfare recipient
or a short(er)-term welfare recipient. Families
that had already experienced “long-term receipt” (over 24 months during the
36-month period prior to program entry) were immediately required to
participate in the employment-focused services. Shorter-term recipients
and new applicants to welfare were not required to participate in these
services at the debut of the program, but could be required to if they later
became “long-term recipients.” Only families with children under the age
of 1 or in which the parent was working 30 or more hours per week were exempt
from these mandatory services. Financial sanctions were levied for
non-exempt families that did not participate.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Study 1: Gennetian, L. A.,
& Miller, C. (2000). Reforming welfare and rewarding work: Final report
on the Minnesota
Family Investment Program, Vol. 2: Effects on children.

New York: Manpower Demonstration Research
Corporation.

Evaluated population: 14,000 families in
need of social welfare in three urban and four rural Minnesota counties; for the following
information on children’s outcomes, however, data
were drawn from a subset of urban single mothers with a child between 2 and 9
at the debut of the program.

Approach: The families in the study were randomly
assigned to either MFIP or AFDC. There were no time limits on welfare benefits
for the AFDC or MFIP groups. Researchers followed the two groups over
time and compared their employment, welfare receipt, earnings, income, and
poverty outcomes.

Results: Program impacts differed by participant
characteristics. Compared with families receiving AFDC, single mothers
and children in MFIP who were long-term welfare recipients experienced notably
positive impacts. For the long-term recipients, participation in MFIP led
to significant increases in parental employment and earnings, a decline in
domestic abuse, and a small increase in the marriage rate. Additionally,
MFIP children in these families exhibited fewer behavior problems, performed
better in school, were more engaged in school, and were more likely to have
continuous health care coverage than children in AFDC. In the short(er)-term welfare receipt families, children experienced
more continuous health care coverage and their single mothers were slightly
more likely to work than their AFDC counterparts.

It should be noted that participation in MFIP enabled
children to experience more stable child care, which may have influenced these
outcomes as well.

Study 2: Gennetian, L. A.,
Miller, C., & Smith, J. (2005). Turning welfare into a work support:
Six-year impacts on parents and children from the Minnesota Investment Program.

Evaluated population: 14,000
families in need of social welfare in three urban and four rural
Minnesota counties (as
described for Study 1).

Approach: This report of the MFIP evaluated the
long-term impacts of the program six years after study entry. The program
was not designed to be temporary, but was effectively discontinued in
1998. This report, therefore, is designed to indicate whether the impacts
of the program are lasting or whether they have faded since the program’s termination. The report was particularly
interested in MFIP’s six year impacts on work,
income, childbearing, and children’s school achievement.
Researchers were primarily interested in evaluating if MFIP provided families
with an increase in employment or self-sufficiency.

Results: Among all single-parent families, MFIP
increased employment, earnings, welfare receipt, and income into the fourth
year of the follow-up, but then impacts waned. For the most disadvantaged
single-parent families, MFIP’s economic impacts and
impacts on children’s school achievement persisted
until year 6. The most disadvantaged single parents are determined by
several factors, including those who have received welfare payments in at least
11 of the 12 months prior to random assignment, were not employed in the year
before random assignment, and did not have a high school diploma or GED, as
well as a subgroup comprised of families with all three characteristics.
Among the full sample of single-parent families, children’s
elementary school achievement was not effected by MFIP.

For two-parent families, MFIP reduced employment among women
through Year 4 of the follow-up period. As with the single-parent sample, MFIP
had no impact on elementary school achievement of young children.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Gennetian, L. A., & Miller, C. (2000). Reforming welfare and
rewarding work: Final report on the Minnesota
Family Investment Program, Vol. 2: Effects on children.

New York: Manpower Demonstration Research
Corporation.

Knox, V. W., Miller, C., & Gennetian, L. A. (2000). Reforming welfare and
rewarding work: A summary of the final report on the
Minnesota Family Investment Program
[On-line]. Retrieved
from the World Wide Web: http://www.mdrc.org.

Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation’s
MFIP website: http://www.mdrc.org/project_8_12.html

Gennetian, L. A., Miller, C., & Smith, J. (2005). Turning
welfare into a work support: Six-year impacts on parents and children from the
Minnesota Investment
Program.

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

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.

Zaslow, M.J., Brooks, J. L.,
Moore, K. A., Morris, P.,
Tout, K., & Redd, Z. (2001). Impacts
on children in experimental studies of welfare-to-work programs.
Washington, DC:
Child Trends.

KEYWORDS: Early Childhood (0-5), Middle Childhood (6-11),
Home-based, Community-based, Urban, Vocational Learning, Life Skills Training,
Education, Academic Achievement, School Engagement, Parent or Home Component,
Employment, Welfare, White or Caucasian.

Program information last updated 5/12/06.