How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Impacts on Participation in Year 5

12/01/2001

As noted, programs were not expected to continue to enroll individuals in employment-promoting activities at the same rate during follow-up years 3 to 5 as they did during years 1 and 2. If the NEWWS programs were achieving their goal of increasing sample members' self-sufficiency, program group members should have been leaving welfare for employment. As this occurred, participation levels should have decreased over the follow-up period, particularly in job search and work experience activities. Furthermore, changes in the welfare reform environment discussed in Chapter 1 might have led to a simultaneous increase in participation among control group members who were still on welfare in later follow-up years. All these factors would lead to small or no program impacts on participation in year 5.

As shown in Table 3.4, year 5 participation rates in "any activity" were similar for program and control group members in all sites (ranging from 18 to 26 percentage points), resulting in no statistically significant participation impacts. In year 5 program and control members most often participated in job search, post-secondary education, and vocational training. Very few sample members participated in basic education. (Results not shown in tables.)

 

Table 3.4
Impacts on Participation in Employment-Related Activities in Year 5

Site and Program

Sample Size Program Group (%) Control Group (%) Difference (Impact) Percentage Change (%)
Any activity
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 1,018 24.6 22.5 2.1 9.2
Atlanta Human Capital Development 1,092 20.9 22.5 -1.6 -7.1
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 1,043 19.0 18.7 0.4 2.0
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 1,048 21.6 18.7 2.9 15.5
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 1,072 26.0 22.0 4.0 18.2
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 582 24.4 20.5 3.8 18.6
Riverside Human Capital Development 685 19.6 20.5 -0.9 -4.4
Portland 442 20.3 21.9 -1.6 -7.2
Job search or job club
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 1,018 14.5 11.0 3.4 * 31.1
Atlanta Human Capital Development 1,092 13.4 11.0 2.4 21.3
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 1,043 8.9 5.6 3.3 ** 59.2
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 1,048 8.8 5.6 3.2 * 58.2
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 1,072 10.0 3.9 6.1 *** 157.7
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 582 9.4 4.5 5.0 ** 111.7
Riverside Human Capital Development 685 10.6 4.5 6.1 *** 136.8
Portland 442 10.6 10.8 -0.2 -1.9
Any education or training
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 1,018 11.0 13.4 -2.3 -17.4
Atlanta Human Capital Development 1,092 10.8 13.4 -2.6 -19.5
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 1,043 10.6 15.0 -4.4 ** -29.4
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 1,048 13.7 15.0 -1.3 -8.8
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 1,072 16.0 18.8 -2.7 -14.5
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 582 14.5 16.7 -2.2 -13.3
Riverside Human Capital Development 685 10.6 16.7 -6.1 ** -36.4
Portland 442 10.7 12.4 -1.7 -13.7
SOURCE:  MDRC calculations from the Five-Year Client Survey.
NOTES:  See Appendix A.2.

While none of the seven programs increased overall participation in year 5, five of the programs (all except Atlanta HCD and Portland) continued to generate small increases in job search participation. None of the seven programs, however, increased participation in education or training activities in year 5, although there was a statistically significant decrease in the Riverside HCD program, probably because some Riverside HCD program group members who would have participated in this type of activity on their own were instead assigned to job search activities by their case managers.

Year 5 participation levels were substantially higher for sample members who received at least one welfare payment in year 5. In more than half of the programs year 5 participation rates (in "any activity") for year 5 welfare recipients exceeded 30 percent. Participation levels were particularly high in job search; in many programs year 5 job search participation rates for recipients were about twice as high as those found for the full sample. Year 5 participation levels for those still receiving welfare indicate that the programs were still actively working with the on-welfare caseload at the end of the five-year follow-up period.

In Atlanta and Portland, job search participation levels were high for control group members still receiving welfare in year 5 as well, with roughly one-fifth of control group welfare recipients in both sites participating in job search in year 5. As has been discussed, this level of control group participation in job search in Atlanta is likely at least partially the result of some control group members receiving welfare-to-work program services in year 5. In Portland, as noted, this level of control group job search participation is likely due to the marketing and reach of the local community college system, which offers job search services to low-income individuals independent of the welfare department-associated welfare-to-work program.

Year 5 participation rates did not vary by educational attainment subgroup. However, significant increases or impacts in job search participation were concentrated among nongraduates. (Results not shown.) This cluster of impacts is not surprising, given that nongraduates have longer stays on welfare and were thus more likely to still be on welfare and subject to a mandatory welfare-to-work program participation requirement at the end of the follow-up period.