Effects of Antipoverty Programs on Children's Cumulative Level of Poverty Related Rick Article Critique

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¶ … Antipoverty Programs on Children's Cumulative Level of Poverty-Related Risk

What is (are) the research question(s) or hypotheses in this article?

The article investigated four research questions and had one specific hypothesis.

Do work incentive programs aimed at encouraging low-income parents to work by providing supplements to their income have an impact on the children of these parents with respect to the cumulative poverty-related risk that the children experience?

Is there a relationship between cumulative poverty-related risk and the outcomes for children, and if so, are these relationships linear or non-linear?

Do the programs aimed at reducing family poverty by supplementing parental income lead to indirect effects on children's outcomes as a result of reducing the children's cumulative poverty-related risk?

d. Are there moderators for the relationship between cumulative poverty-related risk and children's outcomes, such as the age or sex of the child?

e. Hypothesis: Younger children and girls will demonstrate a stronger relationship between cumulative risk and child outcomes.

2. Describe the subject population / unit of analysis / sampling

The sample was drawn from two different groups of participants, those who volunteered to be part of the New Hope Program, and those who volunteered to be part of the Minnesota Family Investment Program.

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Article Critique on Effects of Antipoverty Programs on Children's Cumulative Level of Poverty Related Rick Assignment

The sample consisted of 419 families, 213 in the intervention (New Hope program) group and 206 in the control group. The study was designed to examine the impact of a New Hope welfare program, which involved incentives for low-income individuals who worked. Participants were eligible to be in the New Hope program if they lived in one of two low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were over the age of 18, were willing and able to work 30 hours or more per week and were at least 150% below the federal poverty line. Participants needed to volunteer for the New Hope program and those who did were then randomly assigned to either be part of the New Hope program or the control group of the study. After being in the program (or control group) for two years, all individuals with a child between the ages of 1 and 10 years of age were selected to be part of the surveyed sample. Among these participants, if there was more than one child in the family, one child was randomly assigned to be the focal child for the purpose of the study and examining child outcomes. Attrition rates for the study were relatively low, with 79% of the program group remaining and 80% of the control group. Participants were randomly assigned to either the New Hope program or the control group between August 1994 and December 1995, and surveying began two years after they joined the study. In addition to surveying parents, participants were also asked for their permission to contact the randomly selected child's teachers (if the child was over the age of 5) to complete additional surveys about the children's behavior and school performance.

The mean parent age for the sample was 30.3 years of age and the mean age for the focal child was 8.4 years. The sample of children was split roughly 50/50 male/female.

Minnesota Family Investment Program

The MFIP sample consisted of 759 families, with 267 in the Full MFIP group, 250 in the MFIP Incentives Only group and 242 in the control group. All individuals living within three urban counties in Minnesota who came into the welfare office to apply for welfare or be recertified between April 1994 and October 1994 were randomly assigned to one of three groups, either the full version of MFIP, the MFIP Incentives Only group or a control group. Three years following random assignment to one of these groups participants were surveyed in their homes or by telephone and information was collected about a randomly selected focal child between the ages of 2 and 9 years. The retention rates were 83% for MFIP and 79% for the control group.

The mean parent age in the MFIP group was 28.9 years and the mean age for the focal child was 8.8 years. The sample was split roughly 50/50 male/female.

3. Describe the research design or methodology - survey, experiment, fieldwork, use of existing statistics etc.

Following random assignment to various welfare intervention programs, participants were given surveys either in their home, or over the phone, which assessed a variety of life elements. In addition, for the New Hope group, teachers of the focal children were also mailed questionnaires to complete about the child's behavior and school performance. Participants were surveyed concerning their child's behavior problems using the Behavior Problems Index and in New Hope the teachers were asked to complete the Problem Behavior Scale of the Social Skills Rating System. Academic functioning of the children was assessed through questions asked of the parents and teachers, and performance on a variety of skills was assessed based on teacher report, including reading, math, and intellectual functioning. Behavior problems and academic performance consisted of the main outcome variables for the study.

Cumulative poverty-related risk is considered a more adequate measure of risk given that it takes into account the cumulative effects of individual risk factors, which have been shown to have a greater impact on child outcomes than each individual factor on its own. The study assessed 9 different variables: Income Poverty Status, Marital Status, Depressive Symptoms, Parenting Stress, Parental Warmth, Material Hardship, Food Insufficiency, Employment, and Welfare Receipt.

In addition, general demographic information was collected about the participants and their children, including detailed income related information.

4. Identify the dependent variable(s) and independent variable(s).

This study is unique in its use of making cumulative poverty-related risk both a predictor and outcome variable. The independent variable in the study, however, is the group to which the participant was randomly assigned (either one of the welfare work incentive programs or a control group). The dependent variables were the children's outcome measures, being their cumulative poverty-related risk, behavior problems and school performance. With respect to examining the impact of cumulative poverty-related risk on child behavior problems and school performance, it is the cumulative poverty-related risk, which is the independent variable and the behavior problems, and school performance ratings remain the dependent variables.

5. Describe the results of the study

The researchers used regression to determine the impact of the welfare work-incentive programs on cumulative poverty-related risk. In the New Hope group, participation in the program did not significantly reduce cumulative poverty-related risk for children, although the relationship was at the trend level of significance for those participants who had been long-term welfare recipients, with the results indicating that participation in the program did reduce cumulative poverty-related risk. In the MFIP group, participation in the MFIP Incentives Only program was significantly related to a reduced cumulative poverty-related risk mean, but the decrease was only at a trend level for those in the Full MFIP group. In both cases, the groups were compared to the control group.

The researchers were also interested in how the relationship between cumulative poverty-related risk and children's outcomes in lower-income families. Regression analyses revealed that in the New Hope sample cumulative poverty-related risk did have a significant relationship with child outcomes reported by the parents such that higher levels of risk predicted higher levels of negative child outcomes. In terms of teacher-reported outcomes, there were no significant associations. Similar results for parent-reported outcomes were found in the MFIP sample. The more risk factors experienced by children, the greater their levels of externalizing, internalizing and behavior problems reported by their parents. Cumulative poverty-related risk was also related to lower levels of academic achievement in the MFIP group.

The results also indicated that cumulative poverty-related risk remains a much better predictor of child outcomes than simple poverty status, as has been reported by previous research. Furthermore, there were… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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