National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Final Report. Targeted Help for the Hard to Employ: Outcomes of Two Philadelphia Welfare-to-Work Programs

09/01/2004

This report examines the outcomes of participants in two programs that were central to Philadelphias WtW strategy: the Regional Service Centers (RSCs) and the Transitional Work Corporation (TWC). These programs differed in that the RSCs offered 30 days of basic job search assistance to the broad WtW-eligible population, while TWC provided paid work experience for up to six months and targeted those with little or no work experience. The study examined the employment, earnings, and TANF receipt outcomes of participants in these programs. Key findings included the following:

  • TWC and RSC participants worked more, earned more, and were less likely to receives TANF after program entry. Participants in both programs had increases in employment immediately after program entry, followed by declines. One-and-a-half years after program entry, participants from both programs still had higher employment rates than before program entry. They also had higher earnings and lower rates of TANF receipt than before program entry.
  • Consistent with the targeting and sequencing of the programs, RSC and TWC participants differed in their outcomes over time. RSC participants had higher rates of employment, higher earnings, and lower rates of TANF receipt than TWC participants one and a half years after program entry. However, RSC and TWC participants also differed in their employment, earnings, and TANF receipt prior to program entry.
  • Observable factors explained RSC and TWC participants difference in employment and some of their differences in earnings and TANF receipt. Controlling for demographic characteristics, prior work and TANF receipt, and economic conditions accounts for the simple observed differences in the percentage of RSC and TWC participants employed one and a half years after program entry. Differences in earnings and TANF receipt remained, with about one-third of the difference explained by these observable factors.
  • Further research is needed to clarify how programs like the RSCs and TWC contribute to participant outcomes. The results offer a hint that the intensive TWC intervention might have partially made up for the greater employment challenges faced by TWC participants. However, the study raises questions that only a more rigorous evaluation can answer  most notably, how did TWC participants outcomes compare to how they would have fared in the absence of this intervention?

[Full report: Targeted Help for the Hard to Employ: Outcomes of Two Philadelphia Welfare-to-Work Programs]

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