Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “What Really Works: Evaluating Current Efforts to Help Families Support their Children and Escape Poverty.” The hearing will review evidence about the effectiveness of programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals, how Congress can ensure these programs are evaluated effectively, and how funding can best be directed toward programs and services that have the greatest impact on reducing poverty. The hearing will take place at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building. This hearing is the second in a three-part series of hearings on welfare reform issues.
In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. Witnesses will include experts on the evaluation of social programs, as well as experts who use high-quality evaluations to inform public policy decisions. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
The federal government spends hundreds of billions each year on more than 80 programs for families and individuals with low income. While each of these programs is intended to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of those who receive these benefits, few programs have been rigorously evaluated to determine if they actually achieve their goals. According to social policy experts writing about the evaluation of federal social programs in 2010, “[s]ince 1990, there have been 10 instances in which an entire federal social program has been evaluated using the scientific ‘gold standard’ method” to determine whether the program really works, and “nine of these evaluations found weak or no positive effects.”
Research has shown that dozens of specific interventions have demonstrated positive results in addressing various social problems, including by reducing child maltreatment, improving educational achievement, and increasing employment and earnings. However, in some cases, high-quality evaluations have revealed that some programs previously believed to be effective actually had no impact. In other cases, social programs expected to improve the lives of low-income adults or children actually caused harm—meaning those who did not receive the service or benefit avoided the detrimental effects caused by the program because they did not participate. In addition, many federal social programs have never been rigorously evaluated to determine whether they effectively address the problem they were created to solve, and evidence of effectiveness is not routinely used by Congress to address program deficiencies or redirect funding to more effective programs and policies.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Reichert stated, “Americans have always been willing to help those in need. But when the American people are asked to fund programs to help those most in need, they should be assured that their tax dollars are really making a positive difference. Unfortunately, few of our nation’s social programs have been rigorously evaluated, and even fewer have shown that they are effective in addressing the problems they set out to solve. It is critical that we learn more about what works to help low-income families, that we ensure these programs are evaluated effectively, and that we focus taxpayer resources on those efforts that truly help families and children in need.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The hearing will review what we know about the effectiveness of current programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals, how Congress can ensure more social programs are rigorously evaluated to determine their impact, and how high-quality evidence can best be used to inform the design of social programs at the federal level.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Please click here to submit a statement or letter for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. Attach your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
- All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
- Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
- All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons, and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available online at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.