How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Key Findings


  • A majority of control group members in all four sites  from 55 to 75 percent  participated in an employment-promoting activity over the five-year follow-up period. Almost all of this activity was initiated by the control group members themselves. The most common activities in which controls participated were vocational training programs and post-secondary education. Despite the potential for controls to be subject to mandatory welfare-to-work programs at the end of the follow-up period in Atlanta and Grand Rapids, there is little evidence that much participation in such programs did, in fact, occur.
  • Relative to participation levels found for control group members, all seven NEWWS programs increased participation in employment-promoting activities  including job search, basic education, vocational training, and post-secondary education  over the five-year follow-up period. For the most part, impacts on participation measured earlier in the follow-up were sustained at the five-year follow-up point: In all but two programs cumulative five-year impacts were as large as impacts found at the two-year mark.
  • As expected, large impacts on job search participation (of approximately 30 percentage points) were found in all four employment-focused programs (the three LFA programs and the Portland program). All three education-focused programs (the three HCD programs) also increased job search participation, although generally to a lesser degree. Notably, the Riverside HCD program had a large 30 percentage point impact on job search participation, matching the impacts found in the employment-focused programs.
  • All three HCD programs had large impacts on participation in education and training activities. For nongraduates, increases were particularly large in basic education, and the only other impact on participation found for this subgroup was an increase in post-secondary education in Grand Rapids. For graduates in the two HCD programs that enrolled them, a large impact on vocational training program participation was found in Atlanta, but not in Grand Rapids; both programs slightly increased basic education participation for this subgroup.
  • The Portland program, with its employment focus and mix of initial program activity assignments, resulted in five-year increases in both job search and education participation. While both education subgroups in Portland had large impacts on job search participation, nongraduates also experienced a 10 percentage point increase in basic education participation and graduates had a 21 percentage point increase in post-secondary education.
  • Impacts on the receipt of a high school diploma or GED for nongraduates, fostered by large increases in basic education participation, were found in all three HCD programs as well as in the Portland program. In addition, Portland had a notable increase in the proportion of nongraduates who obtained a high school diploma or GED and a second education or training credential. None of the LFA programs increased diploma receipt for this subgroup. Increases in the receipt of any type of education or training credential (generally a trade license or certificate) among graduates were found in the Atlanta LFA and HCD programs; the Grand Rapids LFA program led to a decrease in such attainment for this subgroup.