Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients. Introduction

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) created a new policy and program framework for workforce preparation and employment. Under the WIA, states and local areas must establish workforce investment boards to oversee the delivery of a broad array of services for youth, adults, and dislocated workers, including federally funded job services. Job-seekers and business are expected to benefit from a One-Stop delivery system designed to offer a full range of employment and career counseling services to the general public via a single location or a system of linked service centers. These One-Stop Job Centers are expected to provide customers with:

  • A preliminary assessment of their skill levels, aptitudes, abilities, and support service needs;
  • Information on a full array of employment-related services, including information about local education and training service providers;
  • Help filing claims for unemployment insurance and evaluating eligibility for job training and education programs or student financial aid;
  • Job search and placement assistance, and career counseling;
  • Access to up-to-date labor market information which identifies job vacancies, skills necessary for in-demand jobs, and provides information about local, regional and national employment trends.

Through One-Stop Job Centers, employers are intended to have a single point of contact to provide information about current and future skills needed by their workers and to list job openings, creating a single system for finding job-ready skilled workers who meet their needs.

Many One-Stop Job Centers are just now being established in response to initiatives by the U.S. Department of Labor, and in response to federal and state welfare reforms. Some of these centers have been operating long enough to develop an understanding of how well they serve different client groups. The purpose of this study is to examine some of the most promising One-Stop models to better understand what makes them work well and the potential they offer for moving people from welfare to self-sufficiency.