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March 2018Vol. 19, No. 2Assessing Programs Combining Support for Parent Self-Sufficiency, Child Well-Being

A new report seeking to evaluate and understand integrated approaches for simultaneously improving family self-sufficiency and child well-being examines existing programs and research needs. While a parent with job and financial security may be better equipped than one who is poor and unemployed to provide the care a child needs to succeed, innovative programs that combine services for adults, children, and families to increase self-sufficiency and child well-being have not been rigorously evaluated.

The report, Exploration of Integrated Approaches to Supporting Child Development and Improving Family Economic Security, is part of a project launched in 2015 to evaluate and inform future investment in innovative programs for adults, children, and families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families funded the project conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research.

The project included the following components:

  • A targeted literature review, consultation with experts, and field work to learn more about selected programs
  • Development of conceptual frameworks to inform program design and research
  • Assessment of existing research on programs that provide economic security services to adults and that include services to children birth through age 12
  • An assessment of opportunities for future research and evaluation on such programs

The report's findings include the following:

  • Contemporary programs tend to originate as either child-focused programs or those that serve parents and children together. Their service models combine multiple offerings for parents and children.
  • The quality and intensity of the programs may need to be at a high level to have an impact on both parent and child outcomes.
  • The conceptual framework developed for integrated parent and child services illustrates integrated service delivery and expected outcomes (i.e., parents will improve their education and skills to find employment and help their children succeed in school) for parents, children, and the home environment over both the short and long terms.
  • Given the limited evidence and the developing field, more research is needed on how to implement integrated parent and child programs and the effectiveness of such programs.

The report is available at