NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teens of Working Welfare Mothers Perform at Lower Level in School, Study Says

June 4, 2002

Teen-age children of working welfare mothers perform more poorly in school than the teens of welfare mothers who don't work. That claim arises from a synthesis by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corp. of eight studies conducted in nine states and two Canadian provinces.

  • It concludes that teens with working mothers on welfare were more likely to get low grades, repeat a grade, get suspended or drop out, than were teens of welfare mothers who didn't work.
  • Teens with younger siblings seem to be the poorest performers -- possibly because their single working mothers rely on them for child care, the researchers theorized.
  • It also seems that mothers are putting their younger children into supervised care, while older children are going without supervision.

The findings will likely find their way into the current debate over increasing work requirements in the welfare reform reauthorization bill now being prepared by Congress.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Working Welfare Moms' Teens Do Worse in School, Study Says," Washington Times, June 4, 2002; Pamela Morris, Virginia Knox and Lisa A. Gennetian, "Welfare Policies Matter for Children and Youth: Lessons for TANF Reauthorization," Policy Brief, March 1, 2002, Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.


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