In the post-welfare reform world, an important policy question has taken new prominence: how to improve employment prospects for the many Americans who face serious obstacles to steady work. These individuals, including long-term welfare recipients, people with disabilities, those with health or behavioral health problems, and former prisoners, often become trapped in costly public assistance and enforcement systems and find themselves living in poverty, outside the mainstream in a society that prizes work and self-sufficiency.
The Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ (HtE) Demonstration and Evaluation Project, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with additional funding from the Department of Labor (DOL), is evaluating four diverse strategies designed to improve employment and other outcomes for low-income parents and others who face serious barriers to employment. This longitudinal, multi-site study is one of the few rigorous random assignment evaluations being conducted pertaining to the HtE. Four innovative programs are being evaluated:
- A comprehensive employment program for ex-prisoners in New York;
- A two-generation Early Head Start Program providing self-sufficiency services to parents and child care for children in Kansas and Missouri,
- Two alternative employment strategies for long-term welfare recipients in Pennsylvania; and
- An intensive telephonic care management program for Rhode Island Medicaid recipients with serious depression.
MDRC, in partnership with the Urban Institute, the Lewin Group, Group Health Cooperative, and United Behavioral Health, is leading the evaluation of these four programs. Over the next several years, the HtE project will generate data on the implementation, impacts, and costs of these promising approaches. The study period is from 2001-2011 and the contract number is HHS-233-01-0012.
The following reports are currently available; others will be posted here as they are completed:
Interim Profile Report
- Four Strategies to Overcome Barriers to Employment: An Introduction to the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project , October 2007. This first report in the evaluation describes the origin of the project and the rationale for the demonstration, the research design, and the four programs and the characteristics of their participants.
New York: Center for Employment Opportunities
- Traditional Jobs for Ex-Prisoners: Early Impacts from a Random Assignment Evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program , November 2007. This working paper presents one-year employment and recidivism outcomes for ex-prisoners assigned at random to the regular CEO program or to basic job search assistance.
- Transitional Jobs for Ex-Prisoners: Implementation, Two-Year Impacts, and Costs of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program, August 2009. The report presents findings pertaining to ex-prisoners who were randomly assigned to the program group (preemployment class, transitional job, job coaching, job development, and postplacement services) and the control group (basic job search assistance). These findings include: characteristics of study participants, program implementation and service receipt, impacts on employment and earnings, impacts on recidivism, and program costs. [in PDF - 187 pages]
Kansas and Missouri: Early Head Start
Pennsylvania: Two Service Models for Welfare Recipients
Rhode Island: Working Toward Wellness
- Working Toward Wellness: Early Results from a Telephone Care Management Program for Medicaid Recipients with Depression , August 2009. This report presents results through six months of a one-year telephonic case management program that encouraged depressed parents who were receiving Medicaid to seek treatment from a mental health professional. Participants were randomly assigned to the program or control group. Findings on program implementation, the use of mental health services, early effects on depression severity, employment, and impacts among Hispanic sample members are presented. [in PDF - 112 pages]