National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Final Report. Employment Preparation Services

09/01/2004

Most WtW enrollees in the 11 study sites received employment preparation services sometime during the year following program entry. These included two core services: job readiness training (instruction on appropriate behavior on a job) and job search assistance (resume preparation, interview practice, and help in finding a job); and eight ancillary services measured in this evaluation.(29) The rate of receipt of any of these services was high and did not vary dramatically across the sites  ranging from a low of 68 percent in Ft. Worth to a high of 89 percent in Philadelphia (Exhibit III.2).

The employment preparation services most frequently received by WtW enrollees in all of the study sites were the two core services. Job readiness training was received by more than half of the WtW enrollees in seven of the study sites and by about four in ten enrollees in the remaining sites (Exhibit III.3). Job search assistance was equally common, with a very similar pattern of receipt across the study sites. Enrollees in Philadelphia were most likely to receive job readiness training and job search assistance, while enrollees in Ft. Worth were least likely to receive them.

Fewer enrollees received ancillary services. The most common of these were life skills training, which was received by roughly 25 to 50 percent of enrollees, and counseling, received by roughly 20 to 35 percent of enrollees (Exhibit III.3). The remaining ancillary services, including mediation and substance abuse treatment, were generally received by no more than 15 percent of enrollees in a site, with the following notable exceptions:

  • Consistent with the emphasis of the JHU program model on job retention, skills development, and job advancement, WtW enrollees in Baltimore County and St. Lucie County received counseling and mediation services at higher rates than enrollees in most of the other study sites, but had lower rates of receipt of job readiness training and job search assistance.(30)
  • The Project Match model on which the Nashville Works/Pathways program was based specifies the provision of intensive case management and a broad range of ancillary services in a supportive peer-group environment. Accordingly, the Nashville enrollees were more likely to receive life-skills training, counseling, structured peer support, and mediation services than those in most of the other study sites.
  • Enrollees in Milwaukee had relatively high rates of receipt of life-skills training, counseling, and additional ancillary services that were rarely received by WtW enrollees in other sites  including participation in peer support groups, legal assistance, and substance abuse treatment.

The typical design for employment preparation services specifies several weeks of job readiness training followed by a week or so of job search/placement assistance. But even programs in the evaluation that were broadly consistent with this design tended to incorporate significant modifications. For example, programs in some of the study sites reflected a philosophy that employment outcomes could be optimized by the provision of extended job readiness training prior to job search/placement. Conversely, job readiness training was downplayed in some other programs that targeted individuals who had already demonstrated their employability.

The duration of job readiness training reflected the diverging models adopted by the site grantees. Among enrollees who received training, the median days ranged from 6 in Ft. Worth and St. Lucie County and 8 in Baltimore County to 44 in Boston and Philadelphia.(31) The short duration of job readiness training in Baltimore County and St. Lucie County reflected the fact that the JHU program was designed to assist people who were already employed. In Ft. Worth, the short duration of training was consistent with the programs emphasis on rapid transition to employment. In contrast, the long duration of training in Boston and Philadelphia reflected structured sequences of service components leading to a paid internship or transitional work experience, and may have also reflected survey respondents perception of services they received even after their placement in a transitional job.

The design and execution of job search assistance was more consistent across sites, with much lower and less varied durations. The median duration of job search assistance was just 4 days or less in 7 of the sites, and exceeded 10 days only in Boston.

The duration of ancillary services depended on their nature, the severity and complexity of the problems they were designed to address, and enrollees capacity to persist in the activity. WtW enrollees typically received counseling, mediation, and legal services for short durations  10 days or less for counseling and 4 days or less for mediation and legal services. In contrast, enrollees often received mental health services and substance abuse treatment for long durations. For example, WtW enrollees in Baltimore County and Boston who entered substance abuse treatment programs typically received services from those programs for about 100 days.

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