Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. C. Planned & Actual Participation Levels

08/01/2002

Given the enrollment difficulties, it took some programs considerably more time than expected to enroll the number of participants they had planned to serve. The extension of time given to grantees by Congress in the 1999 amendments provided grantees with an opportunity to increase their enrollments. After two years of operations, some of the study sites were still operating below their planned levels although nearly all expected that they would reach their original enrollment levels within the five-year period. A few programs had made a conscious planning decision to extend the period of their program given the flexibility they obtained with the 1999 amendments. And three of the programs had reached and exceeded their goals after two years.

By design, WtW grant-funded programs are relatively small in scale. The WtW-funded programs tend to serve a few hundred participants a year. However, both the enrollment goals and actual numbers of individuals served vary substantially across the sites. In part, the relatively small scale of the programs reflects the fact that many of the programs are operated by CBOs and other nongovernment providers, rather than by large government agencies.

Across the 11 study sites, slightly over 20,000 persons were expected to participate over the three-year period originally allowed. The plans ranged from a low of 510 over three years for the West Virginia-HRDF grantee (serving 29 primarily rural counties) to a high of 9,000 for the Chicago grantee (across the 19 programs) (Chart III.1). The largest single program in the study sites is the one operated in Philadelphia by TWC, which planned to serve 3,000 persons. The average (mean) participation goal across the 11 sites for the original three-year period of WtW was 1,853 individuals.(15) Under the terms of the WtW legislation, grantees are allowed five years in which to spend their grant funds.(16)

As of April 2001, none of the study sites had yet completed the five-year period of their grants. From the start of the programs (generally in late 1998 or early 1999) through April 2001, a total of 18,175 individuals had enrolled in WtW programs across the 11 sites. The numbers served (through April 2001) ranged from over 9,000 in Chicago to a low of 250 in the Milwaukee NOW program. The average number of participants served per site across the 11 sites was 1,652 individuals. With the exception of the two largest sites (Chicago and Philadelphia-TWC), each of the other study sites had served fewer than 1,000 individuals. Chicago and Philadelphia-TWC account for well over half of the enrollees across the 11 sites.

About two years after beginning operations, WtW programs were approaching their planned enrollment levels. By April 2001, three of the 11 study grantees had reached or exceeded their planned goals for participation--West Virginia-HRDF, Philadelphia-TWC, and Chicago. Two other grantees--Yakima and Indiana-RVR--were nearing their overall goal (94 percent and 88 percent of their goals, respectively), and Fort Worth and Phoenix had reached about 70 percent of their goals. Three of the remaining study sites had reached about half of

Chart III.1
Participation Goals Versus Actual Participation, by Study Site

Chart III.1 Participation Goals Versus Actual Participation, by Study Site

Source: Management Information System data from the local programs.

their overall enrollment goals--Boston, Nashville, and the JHU sites in Baltimore and St. Lucie--all of which had consciously decided to extend their timeframe. The final site, the Milwaukee NOW program, had reached only about one-fourth of the site's original participation goal and was continuing to experience very slow enrollment.(17) The Milwaukee program has had ongoing difficulty enrolling and retaining noncustodial parents (NCPs), a population that has proven to be difficult to recruit in many programs across the country.(18)

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