Further Progress, Persistent Constraints: Findings From a Second Survey of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. Overall Enrollment to Date Lags Behind Expectations

06/01/2000

On average, respondents to the second grantee survey who had begun enrolling reported that they had about 194 participants enrolled (Table III.3). This figure more than triples the average enrollment levels reported in the first grantee survey (64 participants). The second grantee survey thus shows that programs have made important progress in extending their services to the eligible population.

 

TABLE III.3
WTW PROGRAM ENROLLMENT TO DATE
  Respondents Reporting WtW Enrollment Percentage of Respondents Reporting Enrollment Average Total Enrollment Average Monthly Enrollment Enrollment To Date as Percent of Total Projected Enrollment
Overall 431a 100 194 19.2 31.9
Distribution by Period of Operation:
3 months or less 32 7.4 83 23.7 15.4
4 to 6 months 49 11.4 94 23.1 18.0
7 to 12 months 149 35.6 189 21.4 27.6
More than 12 months 201 50.7 242 15.9 41.1
Source: National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program, Second Grantee Survey (November 1999 - February 2000).

a Organizations reporting on WtW enrollment to date represent 88.5 percent of respondents to the survey.

The survey responses also reflect, however, the continuing difficulties that grantees have encountered enrolling WtW participants. Grantees have enrolled considerably fewer participants than could be expected given the original plans for a three-year WtW program. Data from the second grantee survey show that, on average, grantees have enrolled 32 percent of the participants they expect to participate in their programs. Grantees were originally given three years from the date they receive their awards (both formula and competitive) to spend their grants, but most grantees planned to enroll participants over a shorter period, to ensure that all can receive a full range of services and postemployment followup. On average, grantees in December 1999 had consumed 39 percent of the 30-month period that might be considered the maximum period over which enrollment would occur in an overall three-year grant period.

Moreover, the average pace of enrollment has not increased; it has remained at about the same level found in the first grantee survey: 19 new participants per month (Table III.4). At this pace, we estimate that grantees would need a total of about 41 months, on average, to meet their participation targets.(3)  In sum, grantees are operating substantially behind the pace of enrollment implied in their plans, and participation so far must be viewed as below expectations.

 

TABLE III.4
ENROLLMENT PACE OF WTW PROGRAMS
  Second Grantee Survey
(n = 431)a
Average Number of Participants Enrolled Each Month 19.2
Distribution of Survey Respondents by the Average Number of Participants Enrolled Each Month (Percentages)
5 or less 29.1
6 to 10 20.9
11 to 25 30.0
26 to 50 11.6
51 to 100 6.4
More than 100 2.5
Average Number of Months it Would Take Grantees to Meet Their Stated Participation Targets, Given Enrollment Pace at Time of Survey Response 40.9
Distribution of Survey Respondents by Number of Months it Would Take to Meet Stated Participation Target, Given Enrollment Pace at Time of Survey Response (Percentages)
24 months or less 31.9
25 to 36 months 25.5
37 to 48 months 16.3
49 to 60 months 9.2
More than 60 months 17.1
Source: National Evaluation of the Welfare to Work Grants Program, Second Grantee Survey (November 1999 -February 2000).

Notes:
a Includes only those grantee organizations indicating that they had begun enrolling WtW participants as of their survey completion date. These organizations represent 88.5 percent of respondents to the second WtW grantee survey.

Although grantees responding to the second survey project somewhat lower overall enrollment than was projected by respondents to the first survey, it appears unlikely that they will achieve their targets within the enrollment periods originally defined. On average, respondents to the second grantee survey had been enrolling participants for 12 months, and plan to continue enrollment for another 18 months. The resulting average enrollment period of 30 months falls far short of the 41 months we estimate grantees would need to enroll their target numbers of WtW participants, given their current pace of enrollment.

Grantees who responded to both surveys showed some improvement in their enrollment pace, but they are still falling behind the pace they would need to maintain to meet their participation goals. These repeat responders have served far more people than they reported in the first survey; they quadrupled their average number of enrollees from 58 to 278 (Table III.5). Moreover, their average monthly pace of enrollment increased from 18.9 to 19.9. At the same time, in keeping with the additional rounds of funding they have received, these repeat respondents have also increased their enrollment targets. The net result is that, even at their improved enrollment pace, they would require more than 37 months in total to reach their updated service goals, about seven months longer than they currently project enrolling new participants.

 

TABLE III.5
WTW PROGRAM CHANGES AMONG REPEAT SURVEY RESPONDENTS
(Averages)
Grantee Characteristic First
Grantee Survey
Second
Grantee Survey
Percent Change
Total WtW Funding $2,184,418 $2,992,100 37.0
Expected Total Participation in WtW 524 652 24.4
WtW Enrollment to Date 58 278 379.3
Estimated Number of Participants Enrolled Each Month 18.9 19.9 5.3
Estimated Number of Months it Would Take Grantees to Meet Their Stated Participation Targets, Given Enrollment Pace at Time of Survey Response 48.8 36.6 -25.0
Source: National Evaluation of the Welfare to Work Grants Program, First Grantee Survey (November 1998 - February 1999) and Second Grantee Survey (November 1999 - February 2000).

Note: Based on the responses of 125 grantee organizations that responded to both grantee surveys, had begun enrolling participants, and had been operating for more than one month at the time of their response to the first WtW grantee survey.

Two factors may make it possible for the WtW grants program to deliver services as broadly as grantees have planned. First, recent legislative changes expanding WtW eligibility should ease grantees' recruitment difficulties, thus improving the pace of enrollment into their programs and ultimately bringing about increased overall levels of participation in WtW. The Administration has also submitted a proposal to extend the period over which grantee organizations may use their WtW funds by two years. Such a change, if approved by Congress, would enable all grantee organizations to extend the period over which they recruit for their programs and, thus, further improve their chances of meeting WtW participation targets.

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