Evaluating Two Approaches to Case Management: Implementation, Participation Patterns, Costs, and Three-Year Impacts of the Columbus Welfare-to-Work Program. Gross Cost per Program Group Member

06/01/2001

This section examines expenditures made by the welfare department and by non-welfare agencies for employment and training activities and support services provided to sample members in the integrated and traditional programs. Costs are broken down into the following categories of activities: orientation and appraisal, job search, basic education, post-secondary education, vocational training, and work experience.(3)

In order to determine how much was spent per program group member on each JOBS activity, its unit cost was first calculated using data for the "steady-state" period of calendar year 1993. This year was chosen as a period of relatively stable program operations when many of the sample members were receiving services. The unit cost of an activity is an estimate of the average cost of serving one person in a specified activity for a specified unit of time: for example, one month of participation. For each activity, the unit cost was calculated by dividing expenditures during the steady-state period by the measure of participation.(4) Once the unit cost of an activity was determined, it was multiplied by the average number of units spent in the activity to determine the average cost incurred per program or control group member during the follow-up period.(5)

Table 4.1 (column 1) shows the welfare department unit costs by category. For job search and basic education, the welfare department cost reflects the cost of related case management (assigning recipients to the activity, monitoring attendance, and so on), as well as the cost of providing the activity itself (for example, the cost of classroom instruction, job search facilitation, and classroom space). The welfare department paid for the costs of providing these activities through contracts with local providers who were given on-site space to provide services to JOBS participants. The unit costs for the other activities reflect the cost of case management.

The differences between the two programs in the welfare department's cost of monitoring post-secondary education and vocational training may reflect efficiencies due to economies of scale. The larger traditional JOBS case management unit was divided into two smaller units: one served recipients who were considered "job-ready" and the other served those who were "not job-ready."(6) Having more homogeneous caseloads (in terms of service needs) may have streamlined the case management effort by reducing the number of different types of activities each worker had to monitor. The higher unit cost for the integrated group for vocational training provided by non-welfare agencies (column 4) reflects use of more expensive services  sample members in this group were more likely to attend proprietary schools (particularly cosmetology programs).

Table 4.1
Estimated Unit Costs for Employment-Related Activities, by Program and Agency
(in 1993 Dollars)
Program and Activity Welfare Department Unit Cost Non-Welfare Agency Unit Cost
Average per Month of Participation($) Average per Hour($) Average per Month of Participation($) Average per Participant($)
Integrated program

Orientation and appraisala

17 n/a n/a n/a

Job searchb

198 n/a 90 n/a

Basic education

78 3 n/a n/a

Post-secondary educationc

202 6 n/a n/a

Vocational training

202 n/a n/a 4,523

Work experience

96 n/a 68 n/a
Traditional program

Orientation and appraisala

12 n/a n/a n/a

Job searchb

184 n/a 90 n/a

Basic education

48 4 n/a n/a

Post-secondary educationc

49 6 n/a n/a

Vocational training

49 n/a n/a 2,491

Work experience

41 n/a 68 n/a
Control group

Orientation and appraisala

n/a n/a n/a n/a

Job search

n/a n/a 90 n/a

Basic education

n/a 4 n/a n/a

Post-secondary educationc

n/a 6 n/a n/a

Vocational training

n/a n/a n/a 2,135

Work experience

n/a n/a 68 n/a
Sources: MDRC calculations based on fiscal and participation data from the following: Franklin County Department of Human Services; Ohio Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education; Ohio Board of Regents; National Center for Education Statistics; and information from MDRC-collected case file data and the Two-Year Client Survey.
Notes:N/a=not applicable. aOrientation cost is applied per session. Orientation is generally a one-day, one-time activity. bFor program group members, this measure includes participation in life skills workshops. cCourses for college credit at a two-year or four-year college.