Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients. Chapter 3: Challenges in Reaching the Welfare Population

Not all One-Stop clients have the same abilities or employment needs, and by design, not all clients will receive the same services. The intent of the inverted pyramid model of One-Stop service delivery is to provide multiple points of access to a variety of services, beginning with easily accessed self-service opportunities and culminating with intensive, one-on-one services for clients with the greatest needs.

Many of the early One-Stop models were initially designed to assist dislocated workers re-tool their skills and careers, helping them help themselves and opening opportunities for lifelong learning as they adjust their skills to changes in the economy. However, a robust economic recovery has eagerly absorbed much of this experienced labor pool, often transforming One-Stop centers into employer recruitment centers rather than career make-over centers. In this context, the self-service job matching and education, training, and career planning systems in most of the model One-Stops have proven to be more than adequate to service the experienced labor force.

With the advent of welfare reforms at the federal and state level, One-Stop systems have been thrust into the somewhat different role of helping individuals with relatively few skills and little work experience enter the labor force. This has brought a whole new set of partners, funding sources, and clients to the One-Stop concept. Under this new mandate, it is important to ask which of the One-Stop's customer groups are being well served - and whether any of these customer groups are being underserved by the different models examined. While this is not an attempt to evaluate individual One-Stop systems, it is intended to recognize that One-Stop clients in general, and TANF recipients in particular, are not homogeneous groups, but rather have diverse abilities and needs that may or may not be well-served by different service delivery models.

This chapter examines the issues of access, services, and follow-up in the One-Stop models - what happens at the front end, the middle, and the end. This assessment is then placed in the evolutionary context of One-Stop systems by asking what might happen to these designs in the event of the next economic recession.