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Abt Associates to Lead Major Evaluation of Programs Aimed at Promoting Self-Sufficiency for Disadvantaged Families
Date:11/5/2007

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Abt Associates has been awarded a $15 million, 7-year contract by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to lead a major evaluation of employment and self-sufficiency programs. The programs will target current and former recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, as well as families at risk of receiving benefits. The Innovative Strategies for Increasing Self-sufficiency (ISIS) project will evaluate interventions representing the next generation of innovative approaches to promoting employment and self-sufficiency.

Working with Abt Associates on ISIS will be a cadre of experienced field consultants and staff from the following research and policy organizations: Johns Hopkins University, Berkeley Policy Associates, BCT Partners, National Governors' Association, American Public Human Services Association, and National Conference of State Legislatures.

The new study's director, Dr. David Fein, said:

"We are very excited to be awarded this project. State TANF programs have now been in operation for over a decade. Much has been accomplished -- employment has increased dramatically for low-income mothers and caseloads have dropped sharply -- but much remains to be done. Many low-income parents still work at low levels and have been unable to advance in the workforce. State and local governments have continued to develop programs, both for those receiving TANF assistance and for those not enrolled to further improve employment outcomes, but much remains unknown about how to accomplish this goal. Our job is to help to fill this knowledge gap."

The overall objective is to evaluate a varied set of interventions that hold promise for improving the self-sufficiency and economic well-being of low income families with children. The ISIS team will identify programs and populations for evaluation through a collaborative process involving state and local policymakers and program operators. "We intend to provide information that is methodologically-rigorous and that addresses issues of great interest to state and federal policymakers," explained Susan Bartlett, the new study's deputy director.

The study will utilize an experimental design in six sites to compare outcomes for randomly assigned treatment and control group members. The study will not only produce strong evidence regarding the effectiveness of tested approaches, but, by including practitioners and policymakers in its design, will also increase the likelihood that the results will be relevant to programs in the field.

Abt Associates applies scientific research, technical assistance and consulting expertise to a wide range of social, economic and health policy issues; international development; clinical trials and registries; and complex business problems. Founded in 1965, the company provides services to U.S. federal, state and local governments; universities and foundations; media; and major corporations. Its staff of over 1,000 is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Bethesda, Maryland; Durham, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York (SRBI), and in Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.


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