Targeted Help for the Hard-to-Employ: Outcomes of Two Philadelphia Welfare-to-Work Programs. Outcomes


The main goal of Philadelphias WtW programs was to help the hardest-to-employ TANF recipients become self-sufficient through increased employment, increased earnings, and reduced TANF receipt. This study examines RSC and TWC participants outcomes over time after WtW enrollment. Because the study was not experimental, differences between RSC and TWC participants should not be interpreted as relative impacts of the programs; they have differences other than the program services they received. Rather, this study is designed to provide an overall description of Philadelphias WtW program participants outcomes. While we cannot determine whether, or to what extent, the WtW programs are responsible for the outcomes observed over time, we can examine the extent to which the programs intended outcomes were being achieved. In this chapter, we examine outcomes for RSC and TWC participants over time after program entry. We first discuss participants employment patterns, then their earnings, and finally their TANF receipt.

Trends in employment and TANF receipt for the Philadelphia TANF caseload at the time study sample enrollment began provide context for the examination of outcomes for RSC and TWC participants. To provide this context, we used the entire Philadelphia TANF caseload as of September 1999 as a reference sample. This is the month when sample enrollment began at the RSCs and TWC. Administrative records data for the September 1999 Philadelphia TANF caseload indicate that, over time, TANF receipt declined sharply, while employment increased only slightly (Figure II.1).

Figure II.1
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
Trends in Outcomes for TANF Caseload in Philadelphia, as of September 1999

Figure II.1 Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study: Trends in Outcomes for TANF Caseload in Philadelphia, as of September 1999.

Source: Administrative Data from State of Pennsylvania

However, although TANF receipt did decline, nearly half the September 1999 TANF caseload (48 percent) was still receiving TANF two years later. In addition, the majority of the caseload were not employed two years laterВ  only 43 percent were employed in September 2001, a slight increase from 39 percent in September 1999.

While these overall trends provide a context in which to place the RSC and TWC participants, the September 1999 TANF caseload is different from the RSC and TWC study samples in two important ways. First, the September 1999 TANF caseload includes a mix of people with different patterns of TANF receipt and program participation, such as short-term TANF recipients, long-term TANF recipients enrolled in WtW or other programs, and long-term TANF recipients with deferrals (who were not required to participate in work activities). In contrast, the RSC and TWC study samples included only long-term TANF recipients enrolled in these WtW programs. Second, the September 1999 caseload included TANF recipients at one point in time, whereas the study sample were enrolled over a period of time. Therefore, study sample outcomes may reflect differences from September 1999 in economic or other conditions at the time of enrollment and during the follow-up period.

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