Family Rewards is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program that aims to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty by providing cash payments to families contingent on their engagement in a pre-specified set of activities designed to build human capital and self-sufficiency.
The Program Model
Family Rewards offers cash rewards to over 1,200 families in New York City and Memphis for eight activities related to high school students’ academic achievement and effort, families’ preventive health care efforts, and parents’ work and training. A network of community organizations and partners supports families’ efforts to earn by providing information, referrals, and advisement. The program goal is to change behavior and habits, helping families earn income over the short term and reducing intergenerational poverty in the long term. The program is targeted to low-income families who receive cash assistance (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) or food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and who have a child in the ninth or tenth grade. Since earnings began in December 2011, 97% of families have completed eligible activities, earning a total of almost $3 million in rewards.
Family Rewards builds on the experience of Opportunity NYC. The Opportunity NYC demonstration from 2007 to 2010, designed by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and research partner MDRC, was inspired by CCT programs in more than twenty countries worldwide. Opportunity NYC families earned an average of $3,000 each year. Early findings show that the program reduced poverty and economic hardship, improved educational achievement for some students, and had a number of other positive impacts across the education, health, and workforce domains.
The Social Innovation Fund presents a unique opportunity to improve and adapt the CCT model to determine its ability to reduce poverty in diverse cities with different populations, needs, and social service environments. Family Rewards is being evaluated by MDRC using a Randomized Control Trial design, tracking program and control group families over a three-year period. The research will examine whether Family Rewards improves children’s educational attainment and parents’ involvement in their children’s education, families’ use of health care, health outcomes for adults and children and adults’ employment and earnings. It will also examine whether these trends vary in different areas and by different types of families. In addition to the impact analysis, MDRC will also conduct benefit-cost and implementation studies. The evaluation will help to determine if CCTs can effectively reduce current and long-term poverty by offering temporary cash incentives to families and will identify lessons that can improve benefit and work support programs.
- Children’s Aid Society, in partnership with BronxWorks and Children’s Aid Society (New York City, NY)
- Children’s Aid Society, in partnership with Memphis HOPE and Porter-Leath (Memphis, TX)
SIF Family Rewards Background Research:
SIF Family Rewards Policy Brief: