In recent years, American and Canadian welfare programs have been reformed to encourage very low-income parents to find jobs and stay employed.
Programs that increased both mother’s employment and family income led to small but positive effects on children aged 2 to 5, particularly in cognitive skills, behaviour, health and family well-being. However, negative impacts of full-time working mothers were found on children younger than nine months old.
In spite of welfare reform, low-income children continue to show lower levels of school involvement and higher levels of behavioural problems, regardless of whether or not their mothers receive welfare. This suggests that welfare reform policies should also be evaluated and adapted with children’s outcomes in mind.