Evaluating Two Approaches to Case Management: Implementation, Participation Patterns, Costs, and Three-Year Impacts of the Columbus Welfare-to-Work Program. Sanctioning Rates


Both Columbus programs freely used financial sanctions as a response to individuals' noncompliance with program requirements. (A sanction in Columbus removed the JOBS-mandatory adult from the AFDC grant.)(9) As shown in Table 3.3, roughly one-third of those in each program were sanctioned at some point during the two years following random assignment.(10)

Table 3.3
Sanction Activity Within a Two-Year Follow-up Period
Measure Integrated Group Traditional Group
For all sample members for whom case files were revieweda

Sanction initiatedb(%)

45.3 61.5***

Sanction imposed(%)

36.4 34.9

In sanction at the end of follow-up period(%)

4.4 6.0

Sample size

225 218
For sanctioned individuals onlyc

Average number of months in which sanction was in effect

4.0 5.0
Number of months in sanction(%)


26.8 19.7


19.5 9.2


12.2 21.1


20.7 26.3


15.9 17.1


4.9 4.0

19 or more

0.0 2.6

In sanction at the end of the follow-up period(%)

12.2 17.1

Sample size

82 76

Sources: MDRC calculations from MDRC-collected JOBS case file data .
Notes: aTests of statistical significance were calculated for the differences between the integrated and traditional groups. Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *=10 percent; **=5 percent; and ***=1 percent. b"Sanction inititated " indicates the integrated case manager or the traditional JOBS case manager decided that a sanction should be implemented. cDifferences between the integrated and traditional group outcomes, shown in italics, are not true experimental comprisons; statistical significance were not calculated.

Importantly, although the sanctioning rates in the two programs were similar, a larger proportion of the sample in the traditional program had a sanction initiated: 62 percent, compared with 45 percent in the integrated program. ("Sanction initiated" indicates that the integrated case manager or traditional JOBS case manager decided that a sanction should be imposed.) This means that a smaller proportion of those who had a sanction initiated were actually sanctioned in the traditional program than in the integrated program. This probably resulted from the traditional program's split in duties. Traditional JOBS case managers could request that a person be sanctioned, but had to rely on an IM worker to impose the sanction. As noted in Chapter 2, communication between the traditional JOBS case managers and IM workers was poor; during interviews both types of staff in the traditional program said that sanctioning was a particularly problematic area. Also, since traditional case managers did not deal with the income maintenance aspects of their clients' cases, they initiated sanctions for some people who had not attended a program activity because they were no longer receiving AFDC or were no longer mandatory (and thus should not and could not be sanctioned). In both programs, some people for whom sanctions were initiated demonstrated good cause for their nonparticipation and thus were not sanctioned.

Sanctions were somewhat longer for those in the traditional program than in the integrated program (5 months compared with 4 months), probably because the integrated case manager coordinated the interaction between the JOBS program and the AFDC grant  in other words, she could end the sanction herself as soon as the person complied with JOBS program requirements. Sanction length may also reflect the fact that people in the integrated program, on average, received welfare for less time than people in the traditional program (see Chapter 5).

The sanctioning patterns that were found for the full sample were also found for high school graduate and nongraduate subgroups: For each subgroup, sanctioning rates were similar in the two programs, but more people had a sanction initiated in the traditional program than in the integrated program. (See Appendix Table B.3.) In both programs, a higher percentage of nongraduates than graduates had a sanction initiated and were sanctioned, a pattern found in most of the other NEWWS Evaluation programs.