of data, although particular disciplines may emphasize one form of data collection and analysis over another.
Quantitative and qualitative approaches do not simply offer alternative ways of measuring and understanding reality. Rather, their combination provides a more complete picture of family structures, processes, and relationships. Furthermore, each approach can inform and complement the other through the examination of basic assumptions, theoretical models, and new constructs.
MIXED-METHOD APPROACHES TO STUDYING FAMILY CONTEXTUAL FACTORS AND CHILD COMPETENCIES
The New Hope Program was a three-year antipoverty demonstration program implemented in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the mid-1990s (Duncan et al., 2007; Mistry et al., 2008; Yoshikawa et al., 2006). New Hope offered an alternative approach to the issue of welfare reform, focusing on work-based supports designed to “make work pay” (Duncan et al., 2007). The program’s premise was that, if people were working, they should not be poor. It provided income supplements for people working 30 hours or more a week, subsidies for purchase of private health insurance if benefits were not available through employment, child care assistance and subsidies if required, community service job placement, and individualized assistance from program representatives to help find jobs or deal with specific issues. In this way, the program sought to ensure that take-home income was above the poverty line.
The context of low-wage work and its impacts on family functioning and child outcomes are particularly amenable to an approach that mixes quantitative and qualitative methods, said Rashmita Mistry, associate professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles. She described the Child and Family Study component of the evaluation of the New Hope Program. Funding for the evaluation was provided by several funding agencies, including the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Successful Pathways Through Middle Childhood and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The interdisciplinary team included an economist, two developmental psychologists, and a cultural anthropologist, and their evaluation drew on three sources of data. The first was administrative records data, such as earnings, earning supplements, welfare assistance (Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), food stamps, and Earned Income Tax Credit assistance. The second was survey data from parents of children ages 6 and older and teachers, encompassing 550 families and approximately 900 children, ages 1 to 10 at baseline. The third was an embedded longitudinal qualitative study, covering three