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Title: The Effects of Maternal Welfare Participation on Children's Developmental Outcomes in the Welfare Reform Era
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Lee, Wonik
The Effects of Maternal Welfare Participation on Children's Developmental Outcomes in the Welfare Reform Era
Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University, Social Work, 2010.
Cohort(s): Children of the NLSY79
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC); Home Observation for Measurement of Environment (HOME); Maternal Employment; Parenting Skills/Styles; Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT- Math); Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT- Reading); Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT); State Welfare; State-Level Data/Policy; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Welfare

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

Since welfare reform legislation in 1996, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) has been implemented. Under TANF, most recipients are required to work. Work requirements for welfare mothers might affect their children in various ways. For example, a mother's work experience might improve her self-esteem, motivation, and a sense of personal control as well as family income. As a result, she might be able to provide better parenting, which, in turn, could affect her children positively. On the other hand, if a mother lacks adequate child care or coping skills to manage work stress, work requirements under TANF might affect her children negatively. However, there has been little scholarship addressing how welfare reform affects children.

This study examined the direct and indirect effects of welfare participation on child development. In particular, the study focused on understanding the underlying pathway through which welfare participation affects child development.

This study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY), which included children born between 1990 and 1999. The NLSY was particularly useful because it provided various measures of child development. To examine the underlying pathway, a structural equation model was employed, in which the mother's employment, cognitive stimulation, and engagement with children were included as mediating variables. The model also took into account state policy variations as moderating variables.

This study found that welfare participation had no direct effect on children's developmental outcomes and the effects of welfare participation on children's outcomes were mediated by parenting practices and maternal employment. With regard to parenting practices, two distinct pathways were observed. First, maternal welfare participation had indirect effects on children's cognitive outcomes through cognitive stimulation. Children whose mother participated in the welfare p rogram had less cognitive stimulation at home, which, in turn, was negatively associated with children's cognitive outcomes. The second pathway involves parental engagements with children. Mothers who received welfare benefits were less likely to warmly interact with their children and/or less likely to provide a safe environment for their children. These poor parenting practices were associated with more childhood behavioral problems.

This study also found that maternal employment had a negative effect on children's outcomes through parental engagement. Moreover, the negative effect of maternal employment was stronger among children who were born after TANF was implemented.

Finally, this study generally showed that variations in state welfare policies did not systematically affect the relationship between maternal welfare participation and parenting practices. One exception is that the more lenient work requirement policy appeared to moderate the negative effect of welfare participation on parental engagement.

These findings suggest that the negative effect of welfare participation on child development can be reduced by increasing children's cognitive stimulation and mother-child engagement, implying that states should invest more in the programs that promote children's cognitive development and improve parenting skills as a strategic point of intervention to mitigate the detrimental impact of work requirements on children under TANF.

Bibliography Citation
Lee, Wonik. The Effects of Maternal Welfare Participation on Children's Developmental Outcomes in the Welfare Reform Era. Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University, Social Work, 2010..