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

06/01/2001

As in many welfare-to-work programs, a program orientation session was the gateway to program services in Columbus; a person had to attend a JOBS orientation in order to be assigned to and participate in program activities. As expected, the integrated program was more successful than the traditional program at getting people to attend an orientation session. Table 3.1 shows that among sample members whose case file was reviewed, 86 percent in the integrated program and 63 percent in the traditional program attended orientation in the two years following random assignment, a statistically significant difference.(3) (For this report, differences are considered statistically significant if there is less than a 10 percent probability that they occurred by chance.) In the integrated program, people attended an orientation session an average of 11 weeks after random assignment; in the traditional program, this lag was 16 weeks (not shown in the table).

Table 3.1:
Rates of Participation Within a Two-Year Follow-up Period
Measure Integrated Group(%) Traditional Group(%)
For all sample members for whom case files were revieweda

Attended JOBS orientation

85.8 62.8***
Participated in:

Any activity

52.9 33.5***

Job search

14.7 8.3**

Any education or training

33.8 24.3**

Basic education

24.4 15.1**

Post-secondary educaionb

5.8 6.0

Vocational training

7.6 5.1

Life skills workshops

9.8 0.9***

Work experience

11.6 5.1**

Sample size

225 218
For all sample members who attended a JOBS orientationc
Participated in:

Any activity

63.6 53.5

Job search

16.2 14.0

Any education or training

40.9 41.9

Basic education

29.2 25.6

Post-secondary educationb

7.1 9.3

Vocational training

10.4 9.3

Life skills workshops

13.0 0.0

Work experience

16.2 9.3

Sample size

154 86
Sources: MDRC calculations based on MDRC-collected JOBS case file data.
Notes: aFor this sample, the follow-up period began on the day the individual was randomly assigned. Tests of statistical significance were calculated for differences between the integrated and traditional groups. Statistical significance levels are indicated as: *=10 percent; **=5 percent; and ***=1 percent. b Courses for college credit at a two-year or four-year college. cFor this sample, the follow-up period began on the day of JOBS orientation. Only orientation attenders for whom there are two full years of post-orientation data are included. Differences between the integrated and traditional group outcomes, shown in italics, are not true experimental comparisons; statistical significance tests were not calculated.

As mentioned in Chapter 1, at the point of random assignment, staff in the income maintenance office told all integrated and traditional group members that they had to participate in the JOBS program. Then it was up to the integrated case managers and traditional JOBS case managers to send a letter to each person scheduling her for a specific orientation session. A few factors help explain why the integrated program was more successful in getting people to attend orientation.

First, integrated case managers scheduled orientation sessions more quickly than traditional JOBS case managers.(4) Delays in contacting people can reduce orientation attendance rates because some people leave welfare or become exempt from the program prior to being contacted. Delays also dilute the mandatory program message. Second, integrated staff followed up more quickly and more often on those who missed a scheduled orientation session than traditional staff.(5) These two factors probably reflect the fact that integrated case managers had smaller caseloads and thus fewer individuals to call in and monitor at one time.

Third, as suggested earlier, people may have given greater attention to a call-in notice sent from someone who had direct control over their welfare benefits than from someone who only indirectly influenced their benefits.