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


MDRC researchers, Ohio and Franklin County welfare officials, and HHS officials developed the integrated and traditional programs in Columbus. As noted earlier, the integrated program relied on one type of staff member, integrated case managers, to perform both the income maintenance and employment and training tasks for welfare recipients. The traditional program, in contrast, employed two types: income maintenance (IM) workers and JOBS case managers.

The program developers planned that integrated case managers would carry relatively small caseloads, so they could work closely with all of their clients. In practice, as discussed in more detail in Chapter 2, integrated caseloads were somewhat larger than the designers had intended. In fact, the overall recipient-to-staff ratio in the integrated program was similar to that in the traditional program (every two integrated case managers worked with approximately the same number of welfare recipients as every two staff members in the traditional program). Because the evaluation in Columbus is comparing the effectiveness of integrated and traditional case management approaches with the same recipient-to-staff ratios, any differences that exist between the programs' outcomes can be attributed to the case management approach.

Beyond the case management difference, the major facets of the integrated and traditional programs were identical. They both required welfare recipients to participate in program activities or face a reduction in their cash grant. Both programs aimed to build sample members' skills before requiring them to look for work and engaged people in a wide array of services, including basic education, post-secondary education (primarily classes at two-year colleges), work experience, and job search activities. They provided child care assistance, transportation assistance, and other services to support participation in these activities, and both programs benefited from an unusually rich array of administrative supports. (Chapter 2 provides more detail on the implementation of the programs.) Furthermore, participants in the programs were subject to the same public assistance eligibility and payment system.