Research in behavioral economics has shown that small changes in the environment can make it easier for people to act and make decisions that support their goals. The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, launched in 2010, was the first major project to apply behavioral insights to the human services programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States.
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The goal of the project — sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation of the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and led by MDRC — was to learn how tools from behavioral science could be used to deliver program services more effectively and, ultimately, improve the well-being of low-income children, adults, and families.
Following a systematic approach called behavioral diagnosis and design, 15 state and local agencies participated in the project, which consisted of identifying problems that are appropriate for behavioral interventions, designing interventions, and conducting rigorous tests — where appropriate — to determine whether the interventions improved outcomes. The team launched 15 tests of behavioral interventions, involving close to 100,000 clients, in eight of the participating agencies. These tests spanned three domains: child support, child care, and work support.
Read the full article by Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Caitlin Anzelone and Nadine Dechausay about human services from MDRC
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