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Welfare Policies Matter for Children and Youth: Lessons for TANF Reauthorization

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This policy brief deepens our understanding of how changes in welfare policies affect the well-being of elementary school-age and adolescent children by showing how reforms targeted at parents can have important consequences for their children.

Specifically, the findings reported here demonstrate that welfare policies that aim to improve the economic security of families can benefit elementary school-age children and can complement school-based interventions by giving children a better start in their education. For adolescents, the results suggest that policies that increase parental employment can have negative effects on school achievement, suggesting a new reason for policymakers to spur efforts to develop more flexible child care as well as strategies that can effectively engage low-income youth and help them move successfully into adulthood.