ries, lower caseloads, and access to a wider range of ancillary services (e.g., mental health counseling, tutoring, summer camps). Casey foster parents were provided with more financial resources and had access to more case manager assistance. Finally, youth in the Casey program were offered post-secondary job training or a college scholarship—a major difference compared with the public programs, which did not provide services after age 18. Adult alumni of the Casey Family Program had significantly lower 12-month prevalence of mental disorders than public program alumni, including major depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders.

Effects of Family Poverty and Material Hardship

Family poverty and the economic strains associated with such events as job loss frequently undermine family functioning. They are associated with multiple negative behavioral outcomes among children in these families, increase parental depression and spousal and parent–child conflict, and undermine effective parenting (Knitzer, 2007). Research on interventions related to these factors has produced three notable findings. First, economic risk factors can be modified by government policies, and some experimental studies have demonstrated that such modifications lead to a reduction in emotional and behavioral problems in children (Huston, Duncan, et al., 2005). Second, several studies have demonstrated that interventions directed toward poor parents of young children as well as children’s early cognitive development are associated with long-term improvement in multiple mental, emotional, and behavioral problems and healthy accomplishment of developmental tasks over several decades of follow-up (Olds, Henderson, et al., 1998; Reynolds, Temple, et al., 2001). Third, evaluations of a few programs have found that the mediators that account for these long-term effects include early cognitive development and parental participation in children’s education (Reynolds and Ou, 2003), along with strengthening of healthy parenting practices (Epps and Huston, 2007).

Despite considerable evidence of the impact of poverty on child and family well-being, experimental research that explores child outcomes due to reducing poverty remains limited. Morris, Duncan, and Clark-Kauffman (2005) analyzed two approaches with the potential to affect family well-being based on seven randomized controlled trials. Four interventions involved income supplementation that provided incentives for mothers to go to work, increasing family income while also protecting government-provided benefits if the jobs were low-paying. Three other interventions sought to motivate mothers to move from welfare to work through mandates and penalties. The former interventions significantly increased income, while the latter did not. Small but significant benefits of the programs occurred among younger children, but small and significant

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