There were three variants of the counseling/training subsidy treatments: counseling only, counseling combined with a 50% subsidy for approved education(5) or training courses, and counseling combined with a 100% subsidy for approved education or training. Within a family enrolled in the counseling/training subsidy programs, every family member aged 16 and older was eligible for the experimental counseling and training subsidies. The counseling component of the treatment can be characterized as voluntary, informational, and non-directive. Including in the training of the SIME/DIME counselors, all of whom had extensive previous counseling experience, was a special three-day workshop in non-directive counseling at the start of the experiment. Within this non-directive framework, the counseling had three main features: self-assessment, labor market assessment, and job search assistance.
Self-assessment consisted non only of getting sample members to evaluate their own employment records and work skills, if any, but also of encouraging them to explore their long-range hopes and unfulfilled expectations without regard to the feasibility of these goals. Feasibility was discussed at a later state. Labor market assessment consisted of providing counselors with detailed reports on occupations of interest to clients including specific tasks involved, credentials and experience required, usual hiring channels, and career potential of the occupation. Although job openings were indicated in cases where that information happened to be available, such information was not usually provided to counselors. The job search assistance component did not involve direct job placement or referrals but, rather, general help in preparing resumes and in practicing job interview skills.
The culmination of the counseling process was the formulation of a "plan of action". Although the counselor did at this stage examine with the participants the obstacles in the way of successfully completing the proposed plan, the participant selected the goal and the counselor helped the participant assess the assets and liabilities of the participant's choice.
The training subsidy component of the treatment was also flexible and geared to providing maximum freedom of choice with respect to the type of education or training subsidize. Two subsidy plans were tested. In one, individuals who chose to receive job-related training were reimbursed for 50 percent of the direct costs of training (tuition, fees, materials, transportation, and child care expenses); in the other, clients were reimbursed for 100 percent of training cost. In both subsidy plans, the amount of training subsidized was limited to the cost of the least expensive local institution providing the desired training. Within that constraint, individuals were free to use the subsidy at the institution of their choice. The requirement that training be "job related" was liberally interpreted so that individuals could receive subsidized training that was required for ambitious career goals (like professional and managerial positions). There was no fixed limit on the amount of training that would be subsidized, either with respect to cost or duration, except that subsidies were limited to the three- or five-year period of experimental eligibility.