Toward Reducing Poverty across Generations: Early Findings from New York Citys Conditional Cash Transfer ProgramReport as inadecuate

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Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness

Aimed at low-income families in six of New York City's highest-poverty communities, Family Rewards ties cash rewards to a pre-specified set of activities and outcomes thought to be critical to families' short- and long-term success in the areas of children's education, family preventive health care, and parents' employment. The purpose of this project is to experimentally evaluate the effects of this three-year innovative holistic conditional cash transfer (CCT) initiative. This paper presents initial findings from an ongoing and comprehensive evaluation of Family Rewards. It examines the program's implementation in the field and families' responses to it during the first two of its three years of operations, and early findings on the program's impacts on children's educational processes and outcomes. More specifically, this paper addresses the following questions: (1) What are the effects of ONYC-Family Rewards on family income, poverty, and financial hardship?; (2) What are the effects of ONYC-Family Rewards on use of health care and health insurance?; (3) What are the effects of ONYC-Family Rewards on parents' employment and educational attainment?; and (4) What are the effects of ONYC-Family Rewards on children's educational outcomes? Overall, this study shows that, despite an extraordinarily rapid start-up, the program was operating largely as intended by its second year. Although many families struggled with the complexity of the program, most were substantially engaged with it and received a large amount of money for meeting the conditions it established. Specifically, nearly all families (98 percent) earned at least some rewards in both program years, with payments averaging more than $6,000 during the first two program years combined. The program reduced current poverty and hardship; increased savings; increased families' continuous use of health insurance coverage and increased their receipt of medical care; and increased employment in jobs that are not covered by the unemployment insurance (UI) system but reduced employment in UI-covered jobs. The program has had mixed success in improving children's academic performance specifically. Contrary to expectations, Family Rewards did not affect school attendance or annual standardized test scores in Math and English Language Arts (ELA) for either group of youngest children, but did lead to notable gains for a group of more academically prepared high school students. The program also had important effects on several key proposed mediators of the intervention. However, these effects vary by parents with different age groups of children. Appended are: (1) References; and (2) Tables and Figures. (Contains 2 tables.)

Descriptors: Low Income Groups, Family Programs, Family Income, Rewards, Urban Areas, Poverty Areas, Program Effectiveness, Health Services, Health Insurance, Employed Parents, Educational Attainment, Academic Achievement, Grade 4, Grade 7, Grade 9, Elementary School Students, Middle School Students, High School Students

Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail: inquiries[at]; Web site:

Author: Miller, Cynthia; Riccio, James


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