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

09/01/2004

The WtW grants program provided local grantees with funding, considerable latitude to design service packages, and some flexibility regarding target populations. The evaluations implementation study, along with a baseline survey of WtW enrollees at the time of program entry, provides the basis for three specific conclusions regarding program implementation.

DOL awarded WtW grants totaling about $2.8 billion in fiscal years 1998 and 1999, but low enrollments in grant-funded programs delayed the use of those funds to provide services. Recipient organizations originally had three years to use WtW grant funds. However, many programs funded by the grants experienced difficulty enrolling their target numbers of participants. In response, Congress amended the WtW legislation in 1999 to broaden the criteria under which individuals could qualify to receive services funded by the grants. It also extended to five years the period over which grant funds could be used to provide services. Congress rescinded any state formula grant funds that were unexpended as of January 23, 2004.

Grantee plans for WtW programs in the study sites followed four service models. Programs in 4 of the 11 study sites followed a pre-employment model, which emphasized preparation for employment prior to placement in a job. Activities included group counseling, remedial education, and transitional employment. In another four sites, programs followed an employment model, with the objective of quickly moving participants into jobs. Less common was a post-employment model, which was adopted by the two sites that were operating the JHU Career Transcript System. Designed for employed persons, this program emphasized job retention and career advancement. The rehabilitative model was adopted in just one of the study sites. It was designed to facilitate the transition of noncustodial fathers on probation or parole back into society, prepare them for employment, and place them into jobs.

The individuals who enrolled in WtW programs faced serious employment challenges, but no more so than the general TANF population. WtW enrollees were overwhelmingly female, unlikely to be married, and were typically members of racial or ethnic minority groups. About one-third had failed to complete high school or obtain a GED, and one-third were caring for a child under the age of 3. Their recent employment histories were spotty and similar to those of adult TANF recipients. In sites other than those that had adopted a post-employment model, just one-third to one-half of enrollees were employed in the second quarter prior to program entry.

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