The study examined the impact of an Illinois welfare-to-work program (“First Steps”) on the employment, self-sufficiency, and well-being of work-ready low-income people in rural Illinois, including mandatory Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and food stamps recipients, as well as low-income volunteers. The program teamed up staff of the welfare agency with members of a regional community college; drew on the local connections of program staff to help clients gain access to services, resources, and jobs; and provided each case manager with very small caseloads. This study, which constituted an interim evaluation conducted after the first 18 months of program operation, did not find evidence that the program had improved employment and earnings or that it had reduced welfare dependency up to that point in time. At the 18-month follow-up, a little more than half of the sample participants were employed, and close to two-thirds lived in poverty. Employer-focused job readiness and vocational training was never implemented. The program cost $2,900 per participant. Some clients received few services or insufficient ones, partly reflecting the limited training and support given case managers. The program was unable to capitalize on the employer connections and job-training resources that its community college partner offered. The Illinois program is one of two rural welfare-to-work demonstration projects being evaluated by ACF. Results of a second study, focusing on another promising program in Nebraska, will be available in the online data base in late 2007.
Report Title: Paths to Work in Welfare Rural Places: Key Findings and Lessons from the Impact Evaluation of the Future Steps Rural Welfare-to-Work Program http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/welfare_employ/rural_wtw/reports/paths_to_work/path_title.html
Agency Sponsor: ACF, Administration on Children and Families
Federal Contact: Dubinsky, Michael, 202-401-3442
Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.; Princeton, NJ
PIC ID: 8274