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Family Independence Initiative (FII): Follow-up study final report (Tao & Alamprese 2003)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Tao, F., & Alamprese, J. A. (2003). Family Independence Initiative (FII): Follow-up study final report. Retrieved from http://abtassociates.com/reports/2003/family-independence-initiative-%28fii%29-follow-up-stu.aspx.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Family Independence Initiative (FII) on education, earnings, employment, and public benefit receipt outcomes of low-income adults.
  • The authors used a pre-post study design to compare outcomes before and after participating in a work-focused family literacy program.
  • The study found that program participation was associated with increased employment, earnings, and receipt of a high school diploma or GED, and a reduction in government cash assistance. However, the study did not include tests of statistical significance.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not observe outcomes for multiple periods before and after the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Family Independence Initiative; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Family Independence Initiative

Features of the Intervention

The Family Independence Initiative (FII), developed by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), was a work-focused family literacy program designed to assist welfare recipients in meeting the requirements of welfare reform. FII included work preparation and work experience activities in addition to family literacy activities. The goal was to improve basic literacy skills while learning strategies for obtaining and retaining employment. To be eligible for the program, participants had to be low-income families that collected public assistance. The program was offered at 15 sites located in six cities in the United States.: Akron, Ohio (2 sites), Boulder Colorado (3 sites), Canton, Ohio (4 sites), Charlotte, North Carolina (2 sites), Long Beach, California (2 sites), and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2 sites).

Features of the Study

The study used a pre-post design to compare outcomes of welfare recipients before and one-year after they participated in the FII program. Study participants included two cohorts. Cohort 1 had 70 families who enrolled in the FII program in 1999-2000 and cohort 2 had 37 families who enrolled in the FII program in 2000-2001 (107 families total). To be eligible for the study, families must have complete pre-and post-test data for the year in which they were enrolled in the program.

Data sources included individual in-person interviews and the completion of one of four standardized tests of adult basic skills: Tests of Adult Basic Skills (TABE), Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS), Basic English Skills Test (BEST), or Adult Language Assessment Scales (A-LAS). The authors compared differences in outcomes before and after program participation. Outcomes included changes in education, earnings, employment, and public benefit receipt. However, no tests of statistical significance were provided.

Findings

Education and skills gains 

  • The study found that 27 percent of participants who did not have a high school diploma at program enrollment obtained a high school diploma or GED by the one-year follow-up.

Earnings and wages

  • At the one-year follow-up, the study found that 67 percent of participants reported an increase in household income, 13 percent reported a decrease in household income, and 30 percent reported no change in household income.
  • At the time of the one-year follow-up, participants were earning an average of $7.85 per hour (above the minimum wage), and wages ranged from slightly below minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

Employment

  • The study found that the employment rate of study participants improved one year after program enrollment, with 36 percent of participants employed at follow-up compared to 29 percent at program enrollment.
  • The study also found that for individuals who were unemployed during the FII enrollment year, 34 percent obtained work by the one-year follow-up.

Public benefit receipt

  • The study found that for participants who reported government assistance as their primary source of their income at FII enrollment (57% of participants), only 25 percent of these participants were receiving government cash assistance at follow-up.
  • At the one-year follow-up, the study found that 49 percent of participants reported no government assistance, 22 percent reported receiving one or two sources of government assistance, and 32 percent reported receiving three or more sources of government assistance.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors compared the outcome of participants measured once before and once after they participated in the Family Independence Initiative. CLEAR’s guidelines require that the authors observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention to rule out the possibility that participants had increasing or decreasing trends in the outcomes examined before enrollment in the program. Without knowing the trends before program enrollment, we cannot rule this out. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not observe outcomes for multiple periods before and after the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Family Independence Initiative; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

October 2020

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