Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study’s objective was to examine the implementation of the Family Rewards program which awarded cash incentives to low-income families in New York City for completion of select education and employment activities.
- The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using data collected through a 42-month parent survey, field observations, and two waves of qualitative interviews.
- The study found that in the third and final year of implementation, program operations were implemented as intended and remained strong compared to prior years.
- The authors do not provide detailed information on site/participant selection strategies and steps taken to ensure data quality.
- The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in February 2016.
Family Rewards Program
Features of the Intervention
- Type of organization: Community based organizations.
- Location/setting: Multi-site in New York state.
- Population served and scale: Low-income families. 4,800 families and 11,000 children served.
- Industry focus: Not included
- Intervention activities: cash incentives to parents for completion of employment activities, and for children for completion of education and health-based activities
- Organizational partnerships: Nonprofit organizations
- Cost: Not included
- Fidelity: Not Included
The Family Rewards program was a cash-based incentive program implemented from September 2007 to August 2010. Low-income families were eligible to participate in the program offered by six community-based organizations throughout New York City. The intervention aimed to encourage participation in practices that increase the human capital of low-income families by awarding cash incentives to parents for completion of employment activities and children for completion of education and health-based activities. The 2,400 families that participated in the treatment program received direct payments following verification of their completed activities and did not have any spending restrictions. The program aimed to increase human capital of low-income families and encourage behaviors to assist the breakdown of cyclical intergenerational poverty.
Features of the Study
The study authors conducted an implementation analysis and collected data through field observations, 42-month parent surveys, and two rounds of interviews with parents, children, and program staff. The study primarily intended to assess program operations during the study period, with special attention to operations in the third and final year. Study authors did not provide specific details regarding the qualitative data collection methods (e.g., notetaking or recording interviews) and did not provide details on their methods of analysis to support data reliability.
- The study found that treatment program operations were consistently strong in the third and final year of implementation.
- The study found that as planned, program staff advertised the rewards to families, provided in-person assistance with rewards, and made referrals to community agencies to help families complete activities eligible for the cash incentives.
- The study found that almost all families earned rewards over the three-year period, with 89% earning at least one reward in the final year of implementation.
- The study found that a majority of families received at least $7,000 in cash incentives across the three years of implementation.
Implementation challenges and solutions
The study found that in the first year of program implementation, challenges related to developing a system to track the vast activities eligible for awards and making timely payments to the families was identified as a major challenge. In the second year of program implementation, the study found that these challenges were resolved following policy clarifications and experience gained by the payment processing team.