• 0.13,2.00
  • -0.09,3.00
  • -0.05,1.00
  • -0.04,1.00

The Family Rewards 2.0 program provided cash incentives to families with low income who were receiving government assistance. Families received incentives for completing activities related to children’s education, family health, and parents’ work and education, with the goal of reducing long-term poverty.

The Family Rewards 2.0 program provided cash incentives to families with low income who were receiving government assistance. Families received incentives for completing activities related to children’s education, family health, and parents’ work and education, with the goal of reducing long-term poverty.

The Family Rewards 2.0 program issued payments to participating families’ bank accounts for each activity that families completed or each condition that they met from an established list. The payments varied from $10 for each grade of C that each high school student earned on a report card, to $500 when high school students passed a statewide standardized exam. Payments were delivered every two months based on the activities or milestones recently completed, for up to three years.

Family Rewards 2.0 incentivized activities to support children’s educational attainment, including achievement levels on standardized tests and parental engagement with students’ education. It also incentivized preventive health care practices for the family, such as receiving annual medical checkups. Finally, Family Rewards 2.0 incentivized employment by providing payments for maintaining full-time work and earning a GED.

In addition, Family Rewards 2.0 provided case management—including discussions of family finances and budgeting—and supportive services to help families achieve the goals linked to cash incentives.

Families were eligible for the program if they (1) had at least one child entering 9th or 10th grade by the start of the study, (2) received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (3) lived in an area served by one of four neighborhood partner organizations (NPOs) that delivered the program, and (4) had at least one parent age 18 or older who was a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

The Family Rewards 2.0 program was implemented in the Bronx, NY, and Memphis, TN.

The Family Rewards 2.0 program was an updated version of the Family Rewards program, which offered cash incentives for education, health care, and work activities but did not provide case management or supportive services.

Year evaluation began: 2011
Populations and employment barriers: Cash assistance recipients, Parents
Intervention services: Case management, Financial incentives, Supportive services, Financial education
Setting(s): Urban only

Effectiveness rating and effect by outcome domain

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Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Not supported unfavorable $-816 per year -0.039 2565
Long-term Supported favorable $1,150 per year 0.055 2565
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -2% (in percentage points) -0.051 2565
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -2% (in percentage points) -0.054 2565
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Not supported unfavorable $146 per year 0.053 2456
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable $118 per year 0.043 2456
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Little evidence to assess support favorable 4% (in percentage points) 0.078 2016

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
60%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
38%
Unknown or not reported
2%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

The program lasted up to three years and four months, from September 2011 to December 2014. Evaluators began enrolling individuals in the study in August 2011 and concluded enrollment in February 2012. The study followed participants for up to four years after enrollment.

Organizations implementing intervention

Seedco, a private, national economic and workforce development agency, managed operations of the four NPOs that facilitated Family Rewards 2.0 in each of the neighborhoods served. In 2012, the Children’s Aid Society began managing operations and providing technical assistance to each of the four NPOs. The four NPOs were as follows: the Children’s Aid Society local branch and BronxWorks in the Bronx, and Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE and Porter-Leath in Memphis.

Populations served

Family Rewards 2.0 served families with children entering 9th or 10th grade who received TANF or SNAP. About 84 percent of families served were one-parent families, with an average of 2.7 children per household. The majority of parents were female (91 percent) and Hispanic or Black (98 percent). Participation was voluntary.

Description of services implemented

Services included the following:

  • Financial incentives. Family Rewards 2.0 issued payments to participating families’ bank accounts for each activity that families completed or each condition that they met from an established list. Payments varied from $10 for each grade of C that each high school student earned on a report card, to $500 when high school students passed a statewide standardized exam. Payments were delivered every two months based on the activities or milestones recently completed, for up to three years. Family Rewards 2.0 incentivized activities to support children’s educational attainment, including achievement levels on standardized tests and parental engagement with students’ education. It also incentivized preventive health care practices for the family, such as receiving annual medical checkups. Finally, Family Rewards 2.0 incentivized employment by providing payments for maintaining full-time work and earning a GED.
  • Case management. Family Rewards 2.0 offered families the option of developing a family earning plan (an action plan to overcome barriers to earning incentives) with the assistance of an advisor. Advisors also met with adult and high school students two or more times a year in guidance sessions and reached out to families who were not earning many rewards to provide additional supports.
  • Financial literacy. Guidance from advisors included discussions about family finances and encouragement to open low-fee bank accounts.
  • Supportive services. Family Rewards 2.0 offered supportive services to help families achieve the goals linked to cash incentives, including short-term tutoring, work uniforms, transportation, or licensing fees.

Services were not always implemented as planned. Guidance sessions were less frequent and less focused on families and individuals earning the fewest rewards than planned in the earlier years of the program.

Service intensity

More than 99 percent of families earned at least one reward in the first two years of the program, receiving an average of $6,241 over this period. Most participants had at least one guidance session in Year 2 and in Year 3, but fewer had two or more guidance sessions, with participants in Memphis particularly less likely to receive two or more guidance sessions.

Comparison conditions

Individuals in the comparison condition did not receive any intervention services but could qualify for similar services if available in the community.

Partnerships

The study did not discuss any partners involved with implementing the Family Rewards 2.0 intervention.

Staffing

Each of the four NPOs designated a Family Rewards supervisor and three advisors, who conducted recruitment, outreach, and family guidance. Advisors were trained in motivational interviewing techniques during the second year of the program. The study authors did not include information on the degrees or certifications of staff.

Local context

The Family Rewards 2.0 program was implemented in the Bronx, NY, and Memphis, TN.

Fidelity measures

The study did not discuss any tools to measure fidelity to the intervention model.

Funding source

The study was funded by the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Open Society Foundations, The Rockefeller Foundation, Benificus Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The New York Community Trust, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Women’s Foundation of Greater Memphis.

Cost information

Family Rewards 2.0’s per-family costs were $13,459 over about three years. The program spent $1.07 to transfer $1 to families, producing some positive effects for families that were slightly less than the cost of the program.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1