Panel Paper: Implementation Research Findings from a New Model of Family Rewards

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 11:15 AM
Santa Ana (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Nadine Dechausay, MDRC and Sinead Keegan, NYC Center for Economic Opportunity
The Opportunity NYC: Family Rewards model is being replicated with modifications in two cities in the U.S., through grants provided by the Social Innovation Fund (SIF).  In both New York, New York (Bronx), and Memphis, Tennessee, 600 families were enrolled in the program between July 2011 and December 2011. Twice as many families were recruited for the study, so that half could be randomly assigned to a program group, eligible for Family Rewards, and half assigned to a control group, not eligible for the program.

The new program differs from the original model in several ways.  First, it was targeted to families who are receiving TANF or SNAP benefits and have a child entering 9th or 10th grade.  Second, it is much simpler, offering only eight incentives, instead of 22, across the three domains, giving each family a change to earn up to $2,000 per year.  Third, this version of the model offers a more active advisement role for the staff.  Active case management was proscribed for staff in the original Family Rewards, although they could certainly refer individuals to services if needed. Although families generally reported satisfaction with the original program, the implementation research indicated that many families wanted to earn certain rewards but did not know how to go about meeting the conditions.  These families might have benefited from more active guidance. 

This paper will discuss findings from the first two years of the SIF-funded Family Rewards program. Drawing on payment records, case management files, and interviews with staff and participants, the paper will review the main implementation research findings. It will compare the participation outcomes achieved for this cohort of families and the families who participated in the original demonstration.