Fighting Poverty One Family at a Time: Experimental Evidence from an Intervention with Holistic, Individualized, Wrap-Around Services
Families in poverty face numerous barriers to establishing stable economic footing. This paper examines the effect of a holistic, individualized wrap-around service intervention on outcomes for low-income individuals. The intervention includes a detailed assessment, an individualized service plan, intensive case management administered by a two-person team with small caseloads, and temporary financial assistance used to overcome obstacles to self-sufficiency and incentivize behavior. We evaluate the intervention through a randomized controlled trial among participants seeking assistance at a local social service provider. Results indicate that the program improved labor market and housing outcomes two years after enrollment. Given the customized nature of the services, overall program effects might mask important heterogeneity. Exploratory analysis suggests the program helped employ participants who lacked employment but had stable housing, and that those without stable housing were helped in securing it.