Identifies interventions and strategies to improve the skills, employability, and savings of families that face multiple barriers to economic stability.

Describes ways to assist  at-risk, low-income families whose children have an increased risk of poor outcomes. Identifies successful workforce development and asset-building interventions for such families.  Concludes by suggesting design recommendations for interventions, and discusses opportunities to inform public policy and research.  (Abstractor: Website Staff)

Full publication title: Economic Security for Extremely Vulnerable Families: Themes and Options for Workforce Development and Asset Strategies

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Programs can succeed at improving the skills and employability of extremely vulnerable parents (workforce development) and increasing their savings to help tide them through emergencies (asset development)…That said, innovation will be key to achieve larger and more consistent improvements for these families. In particular, the evaluation evidence suggests the following changes: • Interventions that succeed for these families are likely to be ‘higher touch’ than for other low-income families—in particular, they will likely require more intensive case management—and to last longer. • As a result, up-front costs per family for the interventions may be higher. However, benefits could also be higher, given the extremely low level of economic security these families experience in the absence of intervention. • Three additional components, not typically included in today’s workforce and asset programs, seem likely to be important: strong health partnerships, because of the major health and mental health challenges faced by these vulnerable families; income support to meet basic needs during the program period, for example, through benefits access improvements; and a two-generational focus, addressing children’s as well as parents’ needs, through partnerships with other programs” (p. 3-4). Opportunities for public policy and research include: • “[Ensuring] that all training and employment demonstrations include real access to high quality child-care” (p. 27). • Implementing IDA (Individual Development Account) programs with “24- or 36-month savings periods and less stringent rules on frequency of savings deposits” (p. 27). • “[Covering] low-income families through Medicaid and [providing] a full benefit package of health and behavioral health services will make it easier to implement successful employment and asset initiatives for these families, particularly at a large scale” (p. 28). • Further study in “what works for subgroups within the low-income population…to move beyond ‘one size fits all’ strategies” (p. 28). • “Pay more attention to the costs and benefits of intervention tracked over a long period of time” (p. 28). • Have studies “hone in on implementation challenges and solutions… [And] combine implementation and outcomes components… [to offer] guidance on interim measures of success.” (p. 28-29). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)