Further Progress, Persistent Constraints: Findings From a Second Survey of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. Work Activities of Welfare-to-Work Participants


The ultimate aim of WtW grantees is to place participants in unsubsidized jobs that have the potential to make them economically self-sufficient. The BBA directed grantees to use their WtW funds "to move individuals into and keep individuals in lasting unsubsidized employment" (Section 403(a)(5)(C)(i)). However, Congress and the DOL recognized the challenges grantees would face in helping the hard-to-employ target population of WtW programs toward this objective. Grantees are thus authorized to use a variety of strategies for placing participants in work activities that could lead to sustained unsubsidized jobs. These strategies include:

  1. Conducting or administering community service or work experience programs;
  2. Creating public or private sector jobs through the use of subsidies;
  3. Offering on-the-job training opportunities; and
  4. Developing contracts or other service relationships for job readiness, placement, and post-employment support services from public or private providers.

Aside from these defined services, grantees are given considerable flexibility in shaping employment activities that could help participants move into jobs that provide a decent living and help them advance to higher wages.

The second grantee survey provides a basis for judging how well WtW grantees are doing in moving participants into various work activities. In many cases, of course, WtW participants may still be in interim activities designed to prepare them for unsubsidized employment. It is, therefore, still too early to judge overall success in placing WtW participants in unsubsidized, private sector jobs and other types of employment, the duration of such placements, or the increases in wages that WtW participants realize — all program outcomes in which Congress has expressed an interest. However, enough time has passed to allow for some preliminary description of grantees' goals for work activity and employment placements, their progress toward fulfilling those goals, and the types of jobs in which participants are being placed.(1)

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