Welfare Reform and Preschoolers: Are Certain Children at Risk?

Christine P. Li-Grining, Northwestern University
Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Northwestern University
P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Northwestern University

A growing number of studies have examined the effects of welfare and work on young children's development during the era of welfare reform; however, few have investigated the role of individual differences in child temperament. Drawing data from Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-city Study, the current investigation (n=445) seeks to identify subgroups of children who may be at risk given their temperamental characteristics and mothers' welfare and work patterns. Even after controlling for children's self-regulation and reactivity, two major components of temperament, few effects of mothers' welfare and work experiences on young children's functioning were found. However, self-regulation was modestly related to increases in quantitative skills and decreases in behavior problems, and reactivity was modestly associated with a rise in behavior problems and a decline in social competence over time. Results suggest that the association between mothers' welfare and work patterns and preschoolers' outcomes depends on self-regulation and reactivity.

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Presented in Session 88: Public Policy and the Wellbeing of Children and Youth