Moving People from Welfare to Work. Lessons from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies.. Gains in Skills: Do welfare-to-work programs' investments in education and training result in higher skills?

07/01/2002

  • Welfare-to-work programs that rely on adult basic education programs for the general population are unlikely to improve welfare recipients' basic reading and math skills.

In none of the NEWWS sites in which standardized reading and math literacy tests were administered two years after study entry did the programs raise test scores, even among people who at study entry wanted or planned to enroll in school. (Basic education programs are usually targeted at people whose skills are at or below the eighth-grade level.) Note, however, that most of the programs did not assess welfare recipients for learning disabilities, which could have diminished the programs' ability to improve literacy skills. Some studies have estimated that between one-quarter and one-half of welfare recipients have learning disabilities. 3