The administrators of the Columbus welfare program placed a high priority on the JOBS program; they considered it the centerpiece of an agency-wide mission to make welfare temporary and employment-focused. During the first few years of the evaluation, program administrators focused on increasing the JOBS program's capacity, with the goal of never turning someone away for lack of appropriate services. They largely succeeded: Unavailability of services was rarely, if ever, a problem.
Field researchers rated the Columbus JOBS facilities as "outstanding" compared with those of other welfare-to-work programs.The JOBS center, physically separate from the welfare office, housed the employment and training staff for the integrated and traditional programs. The center, which was extensively renovated prior to the evaluation, also provided spacious classrooms for basic education and job search instruction; offices for state employment services staff, and county alcohol, substance abuse, and mental health workers; and a child care facility for children between ages 2 1/2 and 5.
The programs also benefited from an unusual level of administrative support. Columbus had a child care unit that connected parents with child care providers and a resource unit that collected JOBS activity attendance information and provided it to case managers. Columbus used an automated case record information system, called CRIS-E, which contained information on individuals' past public assistance benefits, JOBS activity assignments, and sanctions for noncompliance. The system guided staff through the welfare eligibility determination process and the JOBS assessment. Although some staff complained about using CRIS-E, it was a powerful system that enabled case management to be fully automated.