National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Final Report. The Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program

09/01/2004

The evaluations process and implementation component was the subject of this report, which described the service delivery operations of WtW-funded programs in 11 study sites. The findings  based on formal site visits, interviews with administrators and staff, and analyses of program management data  included:

  • The programs were decentralized. There were more than 90 programs  some operating in multiple locations  that used varying service delivery organizations and different arrangements for collaboration with TANF agencies. WIBs were the most common grantee, and most had a formal arrangement with TANF agencies; for example, to operate all or part of the TANF work program. Nonprofit organizations (and one university) also played a major role, typically as program operators under subcontract to a WtW grantee or as providers of special services.
  • Sites used one of three general program models, reflecting their primary approach. Among the 11 sites, the following approaches were identified: (1) Enhanced Direct Employment Models, which emphasized individualized pre-employment job search assistance, counseling, case management, and post-employment support; (2) Developmental/Transitional Employment Models emphasizing skills development, usually in a transitional, subsidized, or community service job; and (3) Intensive Post- Employment Skills Development Models, wherein the dual objectives were job retention and skills development for individuals who have already started a job.
  • Employment pathways varied, but most enrollees who found employment received only job readiness and search assistance. In the eight sites where data were available, about half of the participants obtained regular unsubsidized employment. Regardless of the program model, about 60 percent of participants who became employed, did so with just job search assistance or job readiness services. Another 20 percent became employed after participating in a transitional or subsidized job, and 5 percent after receiving job training or education. The rest (15 percent) received a mix of services from the program (job search assistance along with a transitional job and possibly training or education.
  • Sites used several innovative strategies. While this component of the evaluation did not address program effectiveness, a number of potentially promising approaches were identified in the sites. Among these were: (1) extensive involvement of nonprofit organizations as program operators and special service providers, particularly to provide services to special populations; (2) collaborations with employers  for example, in designing pre-employment components, sponsoring internships, and partnering with post-employment skills development; and (3) transitional work components, such as paid community service jobs, part-time community service job plus wrap-around education, supervised temporary employment, sheltered workshops, and on-the-job training. Nearly all grantees operated the latter to some extent, with the aim of providing a bridge to regular employment.
  • The findings suggest a number of policy and operations lessons for serving welfare recipients and low-income parents with employment problems. Among them: (1) detailed eligibility and fiscal provisions can delay program implementation; (2) temporary funding and authority imposes added challenges to program implementation; (3) programs benefit from public and private partnerships and collaborations at the local level; and (4) carefully designed programs can reach populations with serious employment problems  particularly those utilizing nonprofit community-based organizations and systematic outreach and recruitment efforts, and offering comprehensive services.

[Full report: The Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program]

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