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

09/02/2004

The Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation (PWDC) was the local recipient of some of Pennsylvanias formula WtW funds. PWDC used WtW funds to launch a citywide initiative called Greater Philadelphia Works (GPW) to serve the needs of the hardest-to-employ TANF recipients in Philadelphia. central components of GPW were the RSC and TWC programs. GPW also included support services and programs that targeted teenagers, noncustodial parents, and homeless people. PWDC used $15.8 million in WtW formula funding to operate the RSCs and TWC. In addition, the Pew Foundation provided $4.3 million to cover TWCs administrative costs.PWDC also received $4.3 million in WtW competitive funding to operate WtW programs for teenage and noncustodial parents.

As originally designed, the RSC and TWC programs were expected to differ in the populations they targeted and the intensity and duration of their service approaches. The RSCs, designed to serve the broad population of WtW-eligible clients, operated in seven locations across the city, providing clients with up to 30 days of job search and placement assistance. Clients attended job search readiness sessions, conducted directed job search, and met regularly with an employment adviser. To promote clients job retention after placement, employment advisers followed up with them regularly for up to one year. RSC contractors received bonuses for their participants continuous employment at 30, 60, and 90 days and at six months.

In contrast, the TWC program was designed to provide services to the hardest-to-employ among the WtW-eligible population: those who had little or no work experience. The TWC provided clients with 25 hours a week of paid transitional employment for up to six months, followed by placement in unsubsidized jobs.[2] TWC career advisers monitored clients progress and helped resolve problems at work. In addition, TWC clients attended 10 hours a week of wraparound training, which included such topics as GED preparation, basic skills, job readiness, and life skills. After clients obtained unsubsidized employment, the TWC offered up to $800 in job retention bonuses and six to nine months of retention-focused case management.Table I.2 provides more information on the services of the RSC and TWC programs.

Table I.2
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
RSC and TWC Program Descriptions
Regional Service Centers: Program Description
Program Structure Provided short-term work readiness and job search assistance services. Provided job placement and retention services for 12 months after placement.
Target Population The RSCs served long-term welfare clients who were nearing, or who had reached, two years of TANF receipt. RSC services targeted more job-ready WtW-eligible TANF clients.
Employment-Related Services After attending a brief general orientation, clients participated in job readiness workshops and directed job search activities. The programs objective was for clients to find unsubsidized jobs within 30 days. Each RSC had job developers who identified work opportunities by working directly with employers. RSC participants who failed to secure employment within 30 days from enrollment were placed in paid community service positions (while continuing to search for work).Alternatively, they could be referred to the TWC program or back to their County Assistance Office (CAO) caseworker for reevaluation and assignment to another program or exemption from work requirements (as appropriate).
Transitional Work Corporation: Program Description
Program Structure Provides up to six months of subsidized work experience employment, followed by assistance securing unsubsidized employment and job retention services for 12 six to nine months after placement.
Target Population Targets hard-to-serve WtW-eligible TANF recipients who have participated in a mandatory job search required by the TANF agency but did not find a job after basic employment assistance at the RSCs; have limited educational attainment and also lack work experience and work history; or are otherwise considered hard to place. The TWC typically serves long-term welfare clients who are nearing, or who have reached, two years of TANF receipt.
Employment-Related Services Referred individuals are immediately placed on TWCs payroll, receiving minimum wage ($5.15 per hour) for 25 hours per week for up to six months. Program participation begins with a two-week orientation, which provides an overview of TWC and covers job readiness and behavioral topics. During the second week of orientation, participants interview for, and are placed in, transitional work assignments at government agencies or nonprofit organizations. While in transitional work, TWC participants must attend 10 hours of career development training each week, including modules on literacy, math skills, computer skills, GED preparation, job readiness, and general life skills. While in transitional work, participants receive intensive supervision and support from on-site work partners and their TWC career advisers. The work partner is a regular employee, who mentors and supervises the TWC participant daily and provides assessments of the participants job performance to TWC career advisers every other week. When TWC participants are judged work-ready (based on their work partners assessments) or are close to completing their six months of transitional employment, TWC placement staff help them obtain an unsubsidized job. Participants are offered up to $800 in job-retention bonuses and 12 months of retention-focused case management.

The relationship and client flow between the RSC and TWC evolved over time. First, the referral process for the TWC changed in order to address underenrollment in the TWC program. Initially, staff from the County Assistance Office (CAO)  the welfare agency in Philadelphia  referred WtW-eligible clients to the RSCs, and at which time the RSCs identified appropriate clients for referral to TWC. If clients were determined not to be job-ready or were unable to find a job after the 30 days of services the RSCs provided, the RSCs referred them to the more intensive TWC program. In 2000, because enrollment in TWC was low, the program began to conduct its own direct outreach, and the CAO began to refer WtW-eligible clients directly to TWC. Thus, the program evolved to serve a somewhat more general WtW-eligible population, rather than the hardest-to-serve, as originally intended.

Second, the process for placing TWC participants in unsubsidized work changed. Originally, TWC referred participants back to the RSC for placement after they had completed their TWC experience. In an effort to focus more attention on the placement of TWC participants, program operations changed in 2001 so that the TWC handles the placement of its participants in unsubsidized jobs after they complete their transitional work.

Since WtW funds were time-limited, these WtW initiatives could not continue without additional sources of support and funding. In September 2001, the RSCs ceased operations as their funding ended. The TWC operations continued with ongoing support from state WtW funds through February 2004. State TANF funds support the TWC operations for the rest of the 2004 fiscal year.

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