Developmental Changes in Impacts of an Antipoverty Experiment on Low-Income Children's Structured Out-of-School Time

Kaeley C. Bobbitt, University of Texas at Austin
Sylvia Epps, Decision Information Resources, Inc.
Aletha Huston, University of Texas at Austin

Participation in structured activities buffers children from the risks of socioeconomic disadvantage and predicts positive development in children from low-income families, yet poor children participate in significantly fewer activities than non-poor children across childhood and adolescence. The current study uses both a cross-sequential and experimental design to examine whether an anti-poverty intervention, the New Hope Project, increased activity participation in three cohorts of youth, followed over a six-year period, spanning ages 6 to 19. Cohort and wave interactions showed that for most activities, overall participation increased in the middle childhood years and declined after age 15 or 16. The strongest evidence of the impact of New Hope was children’s sustained participation in religious activities, service activities, and clubs through early adolescence, at a time when participation across gender, ethnic group, and income group declines. These results suggest that policy can increase children’s access to and involvement in beneficial structured activities.

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Presented in Poster Session 5