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December/January 2020Vol. 20, No. 10Project GAIN Provides Economic Support to At-Risk Families

Project GAIN (Getting Access to Income Now) was a research project with the goal of preventing child maltreatment by providing at-risk families with economic supports to help them reduce their financial stress and increase their income stability. The project's research population included approximately 5,000 families from Milwaukee who were investigated by child protective services but did not receive ongoing services (i.e., their cases were closed following an investigation). Families were selected between October 2011 and September 2016. Participant families worked with a financial advocate for 8 to 10 weeks and were provided with the following services:

  • A comprehensive eligibility assessment for an array of public and private economic supports and assistance accessing these resources
  • Financial decision-making assistance, including collaborative work with a Project GAIN financial support specialist to identify financial goals and steps to achieve them
  • Access to one-time emergency cash supplements to alleviate immediate financial stressors 

With these services, Project GAIN expected to increase family economic stability as well as income level, which in turn were predicted to improve overall family functioning (e.g., reduce parenting stress and mental health problems, improve parenting skills and self-efficacy). 

The preliminary results of the project found that the majority of families who decided to participate were highly motivated to engage in financial planning. The financial advocates focused mostly on issues such as challenges with rent, energy bills, or employment. Most clients (70 percent) received some sort of monetary benefit during their participation in the program. These findings also showed a reduction in child maltreatment recurrence with participation in the project.

To learn more about Project GAIN, visit