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

06/01/2001

Table 2.1 summarizes the primary duties of income maintenance (IM) workers, traditional JOBS case managers, and integrated case managers in Columbus. In the traditional program, IM workers determined eligibility for and authorized public assistance benefits provided by the welfare department, including cash assistance, Food Stamps, and Medicaid. They reevaluated recipients' eligibility for benefits every six months (or sooner if they became aware of a change in a recipient's status), changed benefit amounts as family composition changed or recipients found work, and imposed sanctions (AFDC grant reductions) at the request of JOBS case managers. Traditional JOBS case managers were responsible for the employment and training aspects of cases. They conducted JOBS orientation sessions, assessed recipients' skills and support service needs, assigned them to program activities, monitored their attendance and progress, and initiated sanctions for those who were noncompliant with program requirements. In the integrated program, integrated case managers performed all these duties.

Table 2.1:
Description of Staff Duties
  Traditional Program Integrated Program
IM Workers JOBS Case Managers Integrated Case Managers

Handled all public assistance benefits

X   X

Authorized payments for JOBS-related expenses

X   X

Conducted JOBS orientation and assessment

  X X

Assigned recipients to JOBS activites

  X X

Monitored JOBS attendance and progress

  X X

Initiated sanctions for noncompliance

  X X

Imposed sanctions for noncompliance

X   X

Worked with recipients' entire household

X   X

Location of staff

IM office JOBS office JOBS office

Average caseload size

265 258 140
Sources: JOBS, Income maintenance, and integrated staff activities and attitudes surveys; and MDRC field research.

The manner in which welfare cases were defined in Ohio affected the work of IM workers and integrated case managers. Welfare case numbers were assigned according to address. As a result, everyone receiving welfare at an address had the same case number and either the same IM worker or the same integrated case manager; thus, the staff member knew how expenses in that dwelling were covered. In addition, integrated case managers knew whether other public assistance recipients living at the address had jobs, participated in JOBS activities, or posed a barrier to a client's employment. Integrated staff could refer any welfare recipient at the address to JOBS. In the traditional program, JOBS case managers, in contrast, did not have access to this information and confined their intervention to individual clients.

Traditional JOBS case managers worked in one of two units: one that worked with people in education and vocational training activities and one that worked with people in job search and work experience activities (the "job-ready unit"). Staff reported that this division sometimes led to delays when someone who moved from an education or training activity to a job search activity had to wait until a case manager in the job-ready unit had time to meet with her. In contrast, integrated case managers worked with all types of people, who remained with the same case manager regardless of the activity they were involved in.