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Social Programs that Work

Social Programs that Work

Jonathan Crane editor
Copyright Date: 1998
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Social Programs that Work
    Book Description:

    Many Americans seem convinced that government programs designed to help the poor have failed.Social Programs That Workshows that this is not true. Many programs have demonstrably improved the lives of people trapped at the bottom of the social and economic ladder.Social Programs That Workprovides an in-depth look at some of the nation's best interventions over the past few decades, and considers their potential for national expansion.

    Examined here are programs designed to improve children's reading skills, curb juvenile delinquency and substance abuse, and move people off welfare into the workforce. Each contributor discusses the design and implementation of a particular program, and assesses how well particular goals were met. Among the critical issues addressed: Are good results permanent, or do they fade over time? Can they be replicated successfully under varied conditions? Are programs cost effective, and if so are the benefits seen immediately or only over the long term? How can public support be garnered for a large upfront investment whose returns may not be apparent for years? Some programs discussed in this volume were implemented only on a small, experimental scale, prompting discussion of their viability at the national level.

    An important concern for social policy is whether one-shot programs can lead to permanent results. Early interventions may be extremely effective at reducing future criminal behavior, as shown by the results of the High/Scope Perry preschool program. Evidence from the Life Skills Training Program suggests that a combination of initial intervention and occasional booster sessions can be an inexpensive and successful approach to reducing adolescent substance abuse.Social Programs That Workalso acknowledges that simply placing welfare recipients in jobs isn't enough; they will also need long-term support to maintain those jobs.

    The successes and failures of social policy over the last thirty-five years have given us valuable feedback about the design of successful social policy.Social Programs That Workrepresents a landmark attempt to use social science criteria to identify and strengthen the programs most likely to make a real difference in addressing the nation's social ills.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-142-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Jonathan Crane
  5. CHAPTER 1 Building on Success
    (pp. 1-42)
    Jonathan Crane

    In recent years, social programs for the poor clearly have lost the support of the American public. At the same time, public opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans remain sympathetic to the plight of the poor or, at least, to the plight of poor people who adhere to mainstream values and social norms. How are we to reconcile these two facts? The answer is simple. Most Americans are convinced that social programs simply do not work and that many existing programs encourage antisocial behavior and attitudes.

    Certainly many programs have failed. Even worse, some of the failures...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Success for All: Achievement Outcomes of a Schoolwide Reform Model
    (pp. 43-74)
    Robert E. Slavin, Nancy A. Madden, Lawrence J. Dolan, Barbara A. Wasik, Steven M. Ross, Lana J. Smith and Marcella Dianda

    Ms. Martin’s kindergarten class has some of the brightest, happiest, friendliest, and most optimistic kids you will ever meet. Students in her class are glad to be in school, proud of their accomplishments, certain that they will succeed at whatever the school has to offer. Every one of them is a natural scientist, a storyteller, a creative thinker, a curious seeker of knowledge. Ms. Martin’s class could be anywhere, in suburb or ghetto, small town or barrio. Kindergartners everywhere are just as bright, enthusiastic, and confident as her kids are.

    Only a few years from now, many of these same...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Reading One-to-One: An Intensive Program Serving a Great Many Students While Still Achieving Large Effects
    (pp. 75-109)
    George Farkas

    One of the untold stories in the loss of President Johnson’s War on Poverty concerns the failure of the Title I/Chapter I Program to achieve its goals.¹ This is unfortunate, since program expenditure levels have been quite high, growing since 1965 to a 1997 annual level above $7 billion. This is about twice the size of the better-known Head Start program (which focuses on younger children). If Title I had been successful, or had at least proceeded via thoughtful and systematic planned variations—and appropriate evaluation—we might expect to know a great deal about what works for improving the...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Chicago Child-Parent Center and Expansion Program: A Study of Extended Early Childhood Intervention
    (pp. 110-147)
    Arthur J. Reynolds

    Given the widespread concerns about academic underachievement, school failure, and other problematic behavior in our nation’s schools, policymakers and the public at-large are increasingly turning to early childhood intervention as a preventative approach to these and other social problems. Support for early childhood programs has been expressed in a number of ways. The first national education goal is that all children will start school ready to learn (National Education Goals Panel 1994). The Head Start preschool program for economically disadvantaged children has nearly universal support and funding priority (Rovner 1990; Zigler and Muenchow 1992; National Head Start Organization 1990). Preschool...

  9. CHAPTER 5 High/Scope Perry Preschool Program Effects at Age Twenty-Seven
    (pp. 148-162)
    Lawrence J. Schweinhart and David P. Weikart

    Evidence gathered over twenty-two years indicates that the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program cut crime in half, reduced high school dropout and demand for welfare assistance, increased participants’ adult earnings and property wealth, and provided taxpayers with a return of $7.16 for every dollar invested in the program (Schweinhart and others 1993). This chapter describes the scientific design that identified these remarkable effects and the preschool program that produced them. It describes the evidence from this study for preschool program effects and identifies similar findings from other studies. It interprets the meaning of this research and examines its implications for the...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Enhancing the Life Course for High-Risk Children: Results from the Abecedarian Project
    (pp. 163-183)
    Craig T. Ramey, Frances A. Campbell and Clancy Blair

    This chapter describes the lasting effects of an intensive early childhood intervention program on the intellectual development and academic achievement of a sample of African American adolescents born into poverty. The belief that early childhood education can positively influence the life success of poor children goes at least as far back as the eighteenth-century writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Today that belief is manifested through the allocation of more than ten billion state and federal dollars for early childhood programs such as Head Start, Follow Through, and Title I, all initiatives designed to prevent academic failure among children of low-income families....

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
    (pp. 184-200)
    Barbara Devaney

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, nutrition education, and health care and social service referrals to lowincome pregnant, breast-feeding, and postpartum women, to infants, and to children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. The WIC program is based on the assumption that insufficient nutrition during the critical growth and development periods of pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood places many low-income individuals at risk of adverse nutrition and health outcomes. The WIC program is a supplemental food and nutrition program to help meet the special needs of low-income women, infants,...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Preventing Adolescent Substance Abuse: Lessons from the Project ALERT Program
    (pp. 201-224)
    Phyllis L. Ellickson

    During the late 1970s and early 1980s, illicit drug use rose so alarmingly that the Reagan Administration declared a “war on drugs.” Many schools and communities instituted programs aimed at preventing teen drug use, and the late 1980s saw a significant decline, as efforts to delay or reduce drug use made impressive inroads. In the last six years, however, the gains began slipping away. The University of Michigan Survey Research Center recently released the results of its twenty-second national survey of American secondary-school students (Press release, University of Michigan, “The Rise in Drug Use among American Teens Continues in 1996,”...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Preventing Adolescent Drug Abuse Through Life Skills Training: Theory, Methods, and Effectiveness
    (pp. 225-257)
    Gilbert J. Botvin

    Drug use by American youth peaked in 1979 followed by a gradual decline that lasted until 1991. Since then, the prevalence of drug use by junior and senior high school students has increased steadily. According to national survey data, this upward trend in drug use is not isolated to a single group; rather it includes a broad range of youth from different regions of the country, racial and ethnic groups, and social classes. Since 1991, drug use has increased more than 30 percent, leading some experts to believe that we are on the verge of a new drug epidemic.


  14. CHAPTER 10 Models of Community Treatment for Serious Juvenile Offenders
    (pp. 258-276)
    Patricia Chamberlain and Kevin Moore

    Violent juvenile crime is growing at an alarming rate. Citizens are reaching for solutions, and getting youths who commit crimes off the streets to prevent them from causing more harm has become a high priority in most communities. This is especially true for violent and sexual offenders. Increased capacity for incarceration is an option that many states have taken. However, long-term incarceration has disadvantages. Given the young age of juvenile offenders, incarceration is a costly solution. Yet results on the effectiveness of community-based rehabilitation programs have been disappointing. Rehabilitation efforts for serious and violent juvenile offenders have fallen short and...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Are Welfare Employment Programs Effective?
    (pp. 277-316)
    Lawrence M. Mead

    The employment programs that states have implemented for welfare recipients since the 1980s constitute a promising development in social policy, but how promising is disputed. Some experts say that the programs are effective, others that they are not. Much of the debate turns on what one means by “effective.” “Welfare” here largely means Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the new name for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)—the controversial family assistance program—after Congress restructured it in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996.¹

    Congress first established work requirements for AFDC adults in...

  16. Index
    (pp. 317-324)