Workforce & Social Policy
The Workforce Development and Social Policy Research Center (WDSPRC) conducts rigorous research, program evaluation, and technical assistance on child welfare, youth development, adolescent risk behavior, job training, workforce development, welfare policy, family formation, and child support. Optimal’s research studies have examined the operations and effectiveness of several major social programs. For example, Optimal is currently evaluating programs at both the national and local levels that aim to promote healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood.
WDSPRC researchers have played an integral role in the Supporting Healthy Marriage evaluation, the first large-scale, multi-site, multi-year, rigorous test of marriage skills programs for low-income married couples. Moreover, WDSPRC staff have conducted a multi-year evaluation of the Center for Urban Families’ marriage programs. In the workforce development area, WDSPRC staff have conducted in-depth case studies and data analysis to identify job clusters for low-skilled workers in American industrial metropolitan areas.
Subject Matter Expertise:
- Labor market analysis
- Wage mandates
- Policy (e.g., Workforce Investment Act, youth opportunity)
- Child support enforcement
- Foster care and adoption
- Case studies / In-depth interviews
- Fatherhood/paternal involvement
- Marriage initiatives and family formation
- Welfare reform and welfare-to-work
- Experimental and quasi-experimental
- Performance measurement design
- Econometric analysis
- Data analysis
- Focus groups
- Case Studies / In-depth interviews
Sample Past Performances:
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Assessment of Sponsor Tiering Determination
The CACFP provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks served in family day care homes, child care centers, and other participating facilities and programs. Optimal conducted an assessment that provides for 2014 estimates of the number of FDCH misclassified by sponsoring agencies into the wrong tier, and the resulting erroneous payments for meals and snacks reimbursed at
Evaluation of Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Participant Characteristics
This study is evaluating the current operations of the USDA’s SFSP. The program supports children’s nutrition through reimbursements to participating institutions for meals meeting USDA dietary guidelines to ensure that children who benefit from the NSLP and the SBP do not experience a nutrition gap during the summer. Optimal is conducting a process evaluation using a mixed methods
Check out some of our previous work.
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