National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Final Report. Doing What It Takes: Understanding the Costs of DOL Welfare-to-Work Grants Programs, Final Report

09/01/2004

This report examined the costs of 18 WtW programs in nine sites that operated with federal grant support. The main objectives of the analysis were to understand the cost structure of selected programs, and the factors influencing it. Program evaluators and planners should find this information useful in assessing the outcomes of WtW programs and in making decisions about future programs with similar objectives. Key findings from the study included the following:

  • The average WtW program spent $3,607 to serve each participant. The least costly WtW program spent $1,887 per participant, while the most costly spent $6,641.
  • WtW costs per participant reflected meaningful differences in program design. Variations in WtW costs per participant reflected three dominant service approaches. Enhanced Direct Employment programs (average cost: $3,559) emphasized quick entry to employment while also offering pre-employment preparation and retention support. Transitional Employment programs either emphasized paid work experience (average cost: $4,346) or helped WtW participants prepare for jobs with employer partners (average cost: $4,513). Post-employment Services programs cost less (average cost: $2,178) because they provided mostly intensive case management to already employed individuals.
  • WtW programs cost more than WIN, less than Supported Work, and about the same as JOBS programs. Differences in WtW costs per participant as compared to earlier interventions reflected three factors. First, WtW programs targeted hard-toemploy individuals who were excluded from participation mandates (as in WIN) or often deferred from participation (as in WIN and JOBS). Second, although WtW programs did not emphasize education and training (as in JOBS), they sought to build a foundation for employment through direct work experience and other skill upgrade activities more closely linked to employment. Third, to maintain their simultaneous focus on employment and human capital development for hard-to-employ participants, WtW programs expanded case management and other services. Nevertheless, WtW efforts were not as comprehensive as those undertaken by Supported Work programs.
  • Future efforts could cost as much as, or more than, WtW. Expanded individual and aggregate TANF work requirements may motivate states to continue to focus on hardto- employ individuals and even intensify elements such as structured job readiness, paid work experience, or post-placement case management  which could raise average costs. Increased flexibility in program design could also lead to greater use of education and training activities, which might also be costly.

[Full report: Doing What It Takes: Understanding the Costs of DOL Welfare-to-Work Grants Programs, Final Report]

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