Study Details for:
Fein, David J., David A. Long, Joy M. Behrens, and Wang S. Lee (2001). The ABC evaluation: Turning the corner: Delaware’s A Better Chance welfare reform program at four years, Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.

Study URL: http://www.abtassociates.com/Reports/ABC-Turning.pdf (Link not working?)

Evaluation: Delaware's A Better Chance (ABC) Welfare Reform Program

Program Studied: Delaware's A Better Chance (ABC) Welfare Reform Program
See Study Characteristics tab below for more information about this program.

Strength of Evidence: 1-High High (3 of 3)

Populations Targeted Parents, Welfare population
Setting Mixed (urban and rural)
Services Provided Education, Financial incentives or sanctions, Job development/job placement, Subsidized employment or transitional jobs, Supportive services, Training, Unpaid work experience, Work experience, Work readiness activities
Outcome Domains Examined Favorable Impacts FoundShort-term employment, Long-term employment, Short-term earnings, Long-term earnings, Favorable Impacts FoundShort-term benefit receipt, Favorable Impacts FoundLong-term benefit receipt

Findings

Toggle Short-term employmentShort-term employment
Outcome Treatment Group Comparison Group Impact Findings Strength of Evidence Study Sample Sample Size Data Source and Timing

Ever employed, quarter 4, %
Adjusted mean = 48.9 Adjusted mean = 43.5 5.4 Favorable 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases UI records, quarter 4
Toggle Long-term employmentLong-term employment
Outcome Treatment Group Comparison Group Impact Findings Strength of Evidence Study Sample Sample Size Data Source and Timing

Ever employed, quarter 10, %
Adjusted mean = 52.0 Adjusted mean = 52.5 -0.5 No Effect 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases UI records, quarter 10
Toggle Short-term earningsShort-term earnings
Outcome Treatment Group Comparison Group Impact Findings Strength of Evidence Study Sample Sample Size Data Source and Timing

Earnings, year 1, $
Adjusted mean = 2,668 Adjusted mean = 2,340 328 No Effect 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases Unemployment Insurance wage system data records, quarter 3 of 1996 - quarter 4 of 1999
Toggle Long-term earningsLong-term earnings
Outcome Treatment Group Comparison Group Impact Findings Strength of Evidence Study Sample Sample Size Data Source and Timing

Earnings, year 2, $
Adjusted mean = 4,008 Adjusted mean = 3,968 40 No Effect 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases Unemployment Insurance wage system data records, quarter 3 of 1996 - quarter 4 of 1999
Toggle Short-term benefit receiptShort-term benefit receipt
Outcome Treatment Group Comparison Group Impact Findings Strength of Evidence Study Sample Sample Size Data Source and Timing
1 Negative impact is favorable.

Cash welfare payments, year 1, $1
Adjusted mean = 2,367 Adjusted mean = 2,507 -140 Favorable 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases Delaware Client Information System records, year 1

Ever received cash welfare payment, quarter 4, %
Adjusted mean = 60.9 Adjusted mean = 59.1 1.8 No Effect 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases Delaware Client Information System records, year 1
Toggle Long-term benefit receiptLong-term benefit receipt
Outcome Treatment Group Comparison Group Impact Findings Strength of Evidence Study Sample Sample Size Data Source and Timing
1 Negative impact is favorable.

Cash welfare payments, year 2, $1
Adjusted mean = 1,029 Adjusted mean = 1,393 -364 Favorable 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases Delaware Client Information System records, year 2

Ever received cash welfare payment, quarter 10, %1
Adjusted mean = 21.9 Adjusted mean = 30.4 -8.5 Favorable 1-High High (3 of 3) Cases assigned in five pilot offices during ABC's first year 3,959 Single-parent welfare cases Delaware Client Information System records, quarter 10

Study Characteristics

Toggle Participants & Program Details Participants & Program Details
Participant Detail For cases assigned during the first year of ABC, about one-third had one child, about half had two or three children, and only 12 percent had four or more children. About two-thirds of the cases' youngest child was under age 6. Fifty-three percent of ABC enrollees completed 12 years or more of education compared to the 47 percent completing fewer than 12 years of education. Slightly more than 60 percent of cases were nonwhite, and 39 percent were white. During the first year of the program, 32 percent of clients were younger than 25 years old. Forty-five percent of clients were 25 to 34 years old, and 22 percent of clients were 35 and older.
Program Services The ABC program required clients to comply with three provisions to receive program benefits. First, clients had to sign a contract of mutual responsibilities that committed them to follow certain parental behaviors such as ensuring that children meet school attendance requirements, in addition to attending employment, training, or education activities. Second, clients (including those with young children) had to participate in agency-supported work activities. Third, clients were subject to full-family time limits that allowed them to search for a job and receive cash benefits for up to two years; after two years, clients had to accept a "community service job" to remain eligible for assistance.

Participating in ABC program employment and training activities was required, except for parents who had children younger than 13 weeks old or who were medically unable to work. Employment and training activities could include job search assistance, job development, subsidized employment, and supportive services.
Program Duration Participants could receive program benefits for two years but could be sanctioned for failure to fulfill program responsibilities such as participating in parenting classes, education, training, or employment . After two years and in order to continue receiving program benefits for two additional years, participants had to obtain a "community service job" in which their paid ABC benefits paid were proportional to hours worked, in order to continue receiving program benefits for two additional years. Four years after program enrollment, families were prohibited from receiving the program for the subsequent eight years.
Comparison Services The control group followed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program policies.
Toggle Study Design Study Design
Strength of Evidence Description High
Group Formation Beginning in October 1995, evaluators randomly assigned 3, 959 Delaware welfare recipient cases and new applicant cases in five welfare offices to treatment and control conditions. (This study focuses on cases randomly assigned in the first year of the evaluation.) A total of 2,138 families were assigned to the ABC program and 1,821 families assigned to the control condition (AFDC regulations). In some analyses, the authors use client-level data, resulting in a larger population of 4,190. The client-level population differs from the case-level population because two adults are sometimes associated with one case.
Effect Calculation The effects reported by the authors and displayed on this site are the raw mean differences between the groups, adjusted for baseline demographics, including assignment month, client's age, county, number of children, race, age of youngest child, time on welfare, and family's earlier incidence of child abuse or neglect.
Notes on Reported Outcomes The authors reported employment, earnings, and public benefit receipt outcomes for time points and variable definitions that are not the focus of this review.
Subgroups Studied Age of youngest child, educational attainment, access to transportation
Other Domains Examined None
Toggle Study Setting Study Setting
Setting Details Delaware implemented the ABC program in five state welfare offices until the beginning of 1997, when the program was implemented state-wide.
Timing of Study The evaluation follows the program from the beginning of random assignment in October 1995 until early 1998.
Study Funding The Division of Social Services of Delaware's Department of Health and Social Services' Division of Social Services commissioned the evaluation.
Study URL http://www.abtassociates.com/Reports/ABC-Turning.pdf