The SHARE outcomes study is part of a comprehensive, congressionally mandated evaluation of the WtW grants program, which Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR), the Urban Institute, and Support Services International, Inc. are conducting under a contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The national evaluation has three major components:
- Descriptive Assessment of WtW Programs Nationwide. Mail surveys of all WtW grantees, conducted in 1998 and 1999, provided an overview of program designs and activities, target populations, characteristics of participants, and, when available, information on early placement outcomes. Visits to several dozen grantees before the first survey was conducted helped to develop a fuller understanding of program variations and provided a basis for selection of in-depth study sites. Previously released reports document the findings from both national surveys and the early visits to selected grantees.(9)
- Process Study. Two rounds of site visits, in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, were conducted to 11 purposefully selected WtW grantee evaluation sites. Some sites were selected because of their innovative approaches, settings, or target groups, others because they were typical of the most common WtW interventions. The process visits included discussions with staff of WtW programs and related agencies, focus groups with participants, and program observations. The aim of the process and implementation study was to identify implementation issues and challenges, as well as lessons from program implementation.(10)
- Outcomes Analysis. In 10 of the 11 process study sites, a sample of WtW participants was formally enrolled in the evaluation. Follow-up data on these participants are being collected through surveys and administrative data, and are being used to analyze participants' activities in the programs and their employment and social outcomes. We refer to the 10 grantee sites in which these analyses are being conducted as the "in-depth" study sites.
In addition, a special process and implementation study focuses on documenting welfare and employment systems operated by American Indian and Alaska Native grantees, the supportive services they provide, and the way these tribal grantees integrate funds from various sources to help their members to move from welfare to work.(11)
Tri-County WDC is one of the in-depth study sites for the national evaluation. As such, it has been included in both the process study and the analysis of WtW outcomes. However, the outcomes analysis for the national evaluation includes, among WtW participants, only those NCPs whose eligibility for WtW services was confirmed and who were referred to a WtW contractor for services. Among NCPs targeted for participation in SHARE, the national evaluation will not capture outcomes for NCPs who (1) were delinquent in their child support payments but found ineligible for WtW services, (2) failed to appear for their contempt hearings, or (3) chose to pay support rather than participate in WtW services. Although SHARE may have affected the employment and child support payments of these NCPs, the national evaluation cannot capture their outcomes. To better understand the paths that SHARE participants followed, and to further document emerging strategies for serving NCPs in general, DHHS contracted with MPR to conduct a small study documenting the outcomes forall NCPs targeted for participation in the SHARE program.