Hsueh, J., and Farrell, M. (2012). Enhanced Early Head Start with employment services: 42-month impacts from the Kansas and Missouri sites of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Research Project. OPRE Report 2012-05. Washington DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of Enhanced Early Head Start (EHS) participation on employment, earnings, and public assistance receipt for low-income families with young children.
- The study used a randomized controlled trial design, assigning eligible families to either the Enhanced EHS program or existing services. To estimate the program’s impacts, the authors used administrative employment and earnings data, as well as a 42-month follow-up survey emphasizing respondents’ employment, income, and public assistance receipt. Outcomes were adjusted for characteristics before random assignment.
- The study found that the longest period of continuous employment during the 3.5-year follow-up period was, on average, 2.5 months shorter for mothers in the Enhanced EHS group than mothers in the control group.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Enhanced EHS services, and not to other factors.
Enhanced Early Head Start
Features of the Intervention
The study was conducted in two EHS programs in Girard, Kansas, and St. Charles, Missouri. The program in Kansas was a community-based agency that served 12 rural counties in southeastern Kansas. The program in Missouri was a multiservice agency that served 3 suburban counties and one rural county. To be eligible, families had to have a family income at or below the federal poverty threshold, have a child younger than 3 years or soon to be born, and live in Enhanced EHS’s designated service area. If new applicants from two program sites (in Kansas and Missouri) met these eligibility criteria, evaluators assigned them to a treatment (Enhanced EHS) or control condition.
Enhanced EHS consisted of the intensive early childhood development services and family supports typical of the EHS program plus program enhancement designed to address parents’ employment and self-sufficiency needs. The enhancements included on-site self-sufficiency specialists who worked directly with families on achieving their self-sufficiency goals, parent training in employment and self-sufficiency issues, establishing partnerships with local agencies that provided employment and training services, and training EHS staff so they could help parents attain their employment and self-sufficiency goals. EHS also offered health and mental health services to families.
Features of the Study
From July 2004 to December 2006, evaluators randomly assigned half of the 610 families who met program eligibility criteria to the Enhanced EHS treatment group; the remaining 305 families were assigned to the control group. The authors collected employment, earnings, and public assistance receipt data from a survey fielded 42 months after random assignment and administrative data on employment and earnings were collected annually from the National Directory of New Hires database. Authors compared the outcomes of Enhanced EHS and control group members, controlling for characteristics before random assignment.
- The study found that the longest period of continuous employment during the 3.5-year follow-up period was, on average, 2.5 months shorter for mothers in the Enhanced EHS treatment group than mothers in the control group.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Enhanced EHS services, and not to other factors.
Butler, D., Alson, J., Bloom, D., Deitch, V., Hill, A., Hsueh, J., Jacobs, E., Kim, S., McRoberts, R., & Redcross, C. (2012). What strategies work for the hard-to-employ? Final results of the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation project and selected sites from the Employment Retention and Advancement project. OPRE Report 2012-08. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.