Workforce Development and Social Policy

Workforce Development and Social Policy



The Workforce Development and Social Policy Research Center (WDSPRC) conducts rigorous research, program evaluation, and technical assistance on child welfare, youth development, adolescent risk behavior, job training, workforce development, welfare policy, family formation, and child support. Optimal's research studies have examined the operations and effectiveness of several major social programs. For example, Optimal is currently evaluating programs at both the national and local levels that aim to promote healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood.

WDSPRC researchers have planned an integral role on the Supporting Healthy Marriage evaluation, the first large-scale, multisite, multiyear, rigorous test of marriage skills programs for low-income married couples. Moreover, WDSPRC has conducted a multiyear evaluation of the Center for Urban Families’ marriage programs. In the workforce development area, WDSPRC staff has conducted in-depth case studies and data analysis to identify job clusters for low-skilled workers in American industrial metropolitan areas.

Subject Matter Expertise:

  • Labor market analysis
  • Wage mandates
  • Policy (e.g., Workforce Investment Act, youth opportunity)
  • Child support enforcement
  • Foster care & adoption
  • Case studies / In-depth interviews
  • Fatherhood/paternal involvement
  • Marriage initiatives and family formation
  • Welfare reform & welfare-to-work

Technical Expertise:

  • Experimental and quasi-experimental
  • Performance measurement design
  • Econometric analysis
  • Data analysis
  • Focus groups
  • Case Studies / In-Depth interviews


For more information, e-mail us at