This report answers several research questions about the integrated and traditional programs in Columbus:
- How did the integrated and traditional programs operate and what were the differences between them?
- How did the programs affect involvement in employment and training activities and how did they deal with people who did not comply with program requirements? Did one program engage more recipients in program activities than the other?
- What were the costs of employment-related services in the programs and how do those costs compare?
- What were the effects of the programs, relative to the experience of a control group, on employment, earnings, and welfare receipt and payments? How do the effects of the integrated and traditional programs compare?
As the questions above indicate, one of the main purposes of the evaluation in Columbus is to compare the integrated and traditional case management approaches. Following are the four key hypotheses about the differences between the programs that the evaluation designers developed at the beginning of the study.
- The integrated case management structure would allow case managers to deliver program services more efficiently and effectively and to more closely monitor welfare recipients' situations than the traditional structure.
The evaluation designers assumed that integrated case management would operate more efficiently than traditional case management because each recipient would work with only one staff member. This would reduce time spent on communication among staff, as well as reduce delays between case events. They also thought that integrated staff would have closer relationships with recipients. Because integrated case managers handle both eligibility and employment services, they would see recipients more often and have a more complete picture of their situation.
- The integrated approach would engage more people in the program than the traditional approach.
The evaluation designers hypothesized that the integrated program would lead to a higher attendance rate at JOBS orientation and subsequently to a higher participation rate in JOBS activities, and thus would better enforce the "social contract" idea that people who receive welfare should be engaged in employment-focused services. This hypothesis was based primarily on the belief that welfare recipients would take the threat of financial sanction more seriously from an integrated case manager who could impose the sanction herself than from a traditional case manager who had to rely on another staff member, an IM worker, to impose the sanction. In addition, the evaluation designers thought that recipients might have more difficulty avoiding participation requirements if they had to deal with one worker who knew their whole situation, rather than two workers who each had limited information about their JOBS and welfare statuses.
- The integrated program would produce larger increases in employment and earnings than the traditional program.
The architects of the study believed that if, as suggested above, the integrated program exposed more people to the program messages and services (by engaging more people in the program), and more efficiently and effectively delivered services, it also would produce larger effects on employment and earnings.
- The integrated program would produce larger decreases in welfare receipt and payments than the traditional program.
This hypothesis was based on two factors. First, if the integrated program increased employment and earnings more than the traditional program, as discussed above, that, in turn, would likely have resulted in larger welfare reductions. Second, evaluation designers expected that the integrated structure would engender more effective eligibility case management than the traditional structure. Integrated case managers might find out about employment and welfare status changes more quickly than traditional staff because they would see their clients more often. They would also be able to respond more quickly to status changes because they could reduce a grant amount or close a grant themselves rather than requesting another staff member to do so. It is also possible that the closer contact between integrated case managers and recipients could help these staff members learn about eligibility changes that traditional staff might not.