Racial/ethnic differences in effects of welfare policies on early school readiness and later achievement

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This study examined whether the effects of employment-based policies on children's math and reading achievement differed for African American, Latino and Caucasian children of welfare receiving parents, and if so, why. Two kinds of employment policies were examined: education-first programs with an emphasis on adult education and job training; and work-first programs with an emphasis on immediate employment. With data from two- and five-year follow-ups in four experimental demonstrations in Grand Rapids, Michigan (N = 4591) and Riverside County, California (N = 629), there was evidence of small positive effects of the Grand Rapids and Riverside education-first programs on African American and Latino children's school readiness and math scores. An opposite pattern of effects emerged among Caucasian children. In one of the two sites, we found that Latino parents' higher levels of goals for pursuing their own education appeared to explain why their children benefited to a greater degree from the program than their Caucasian counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-153
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Developmental Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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