The program mix you choose will depend partly on the program's goals. Work first programs are generally geared toward the goals of increasing the number of case heads of household who work, reducing welfare rolls, and saving welfare dollars. A work first approach may not be appropriate for programs with very different goals. At the same time, however, programs may have additional or secondary goals that can be accommodated within a work first model. Planners of such programs should think about including activities, options, and related policies that can further those goals. For example, a program with the goal of increasing family income might consider adding to its policy mix increased earnings disregards and more generous child care and other benefits to make work pay, and allowing more opportunity for participants to combine work with education and training that can increase their earnings.
Table 1 outlines some of the ways in which the program model and emphasis might vary among programs, depending on their goals. While the basic work first model remains the same, the mix of policies and practices can differ.
Program Goals and Related Program Features
Program Goal Possible Program Features Reduce the number of Job search geared to full-time employment families on welfare Continued participation in program activities until off welfare Increase employment Job search geared to either part-time or full-time among families on employment welfare Support for combining work and welfare Increase the income of Increased earnings disregards, child care families assistance, and other benefits to make work pay Job search and job development geared to higher-paying jobs More opportunity allowed for education or training that can increase earnings Impose a reciprocal Mandatory participation for a broad portion of the obligation on welfare caseload recipients Swift and strict sanctions for nonparticipation More use of unpaid work experience and/or subsidized jobs to engage those who are unable to find unsubsidized employment Keep applicants from Applicant job search and one-time payments to help becoming long-term applicants avoid coming on welfare recipients Emphasis on getting people quickly into the program Move long-term More marketing of work and teaching basic work recipients into jobs habits Supervised work experience and job development for those unable to find jobs on their own Reduce recidivism Transitional benefits and support services for those who leave welfare Help with obtaining work-related benefits, such as the Earned Income Credit Reemployment assistance for those who lose a job Improve the well-being Help with obtaining high-quality child care of children Focus on increasing total family income Monitoring of child outcomes Achieve short-term Mostly job search, with few other activities for savings participants Close monitoring of participation Swift and strict sanctions for noncompliance Aim for longer-term Job search supplemented by other employment-focused cost-effectiveness activities More attention to serving long-term recipients Focus on reducing recidivism