Employment and Income Assistance Programs

As just described, prevention interventions designed to improve outcomes for children and families can be effective in low-income families. In addition, programs that address poverty by increasing employment and income can have positive effects on parenting and on child outcomes (Morris, Duncan, and Clark-Kauffman, 2005). However, based on available evidence, it is not clear whether programs designed to address employment, poverty, and housing can also affect depression in parents or improve child outcomes specifically in families with depression, because few studies have directly addressed this question. A few examples of projects using randomized designs that have included some evaluation of depression in parents, parenting, or child developmental outcomes are described below.

New Hope Project: The New Hope project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, provided income supplementation, job search assistance, and subsidized health insurance and child care in families that were primarily African American and Hispanic (Epps and Huston, 2007; Huston et al., 2005; Miller et al., 2008). The program increased parental employment and family income while the benefits were in place. There were significant improvements in children’s academic performance and positive social behavior as well as a decrease in problem behavior. There was little impact on parenting practices and parent-child relations or psychological well-being in parents.

Minnesota Family Investment Program: The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) provided financial incentives to encourage work as well as employment-focused activities and services to predominantly non-Hispanic European Americans and African Americans in urban counties in Minnesota (Gennetian and Miller, 2002). MFIP increased employment, earnings, and income in families through 3 years after entry into the study. Children in families receiving the program were less likely to exhibit problem behaviors and more likely to perform better and be more engaged at school. The program reduced the incidence of mothers at high risk for depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale [CESD] score of 24 or above) but did not have effects on the home environment and parenting, except for a significant increase in parental supervision of children.

New Chance Project: The New Chance demonstration project, which took place in 10 states, focused on young women who bore children as teenagers and were high school dropouts. The project provided adult education, occupational skills training, job assistance, health and family planning classes and services, group and individual counseling to address

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