*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Here, to assess targeting, or for whom the services make a difference, we use both survey and qualitative data to examine differences in well-being in the participants and comparison group after one year and to highlight how participants experienced the program. Among program participants, we examine differences in well-being by participation level and engagement in services.
We base our analyses in this paper on the program model’s theory of change and service goals for the families. Adapting the Ruby Payne “framework for understanding poverty,” these services aim to help families learn alternative strategies for coping with financial and familial distress and gain confidence in navigating helping systems and opportunities for themselves and their children. Engagement in the full range of services and supports over the year ideally expands the family’s social support network and increases reciprocity and interdependence within this widening social and economic support system. We use regression and matching techniques of analysis to assess the impact of enrollment and participation in the program on measures of parents’ social support and personal efficacy.
We place our findings in the context of the high unemployment and low skill base of the families and surrounding community, an epicenter of the recession. We note the dearth of evidence on what works to help families cope in such hard times and draw implications that consider the lack of public and private services available to address the complexity of stresses that low income families face, and the dire need for policies that promote innovation in this field.