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


In this chapter, we explored a variety of factors that could have contributed to the difference in outcomes for RSC and TWC participants.  We found some statistically significant differences in the background characteristics of RSC and TWC participants.  These differences were generally small, however, suggesting that both programs worked with fairly disadvantaged populations.  We also found differences in the periods of sample enrollment and in deteriorating economic conditions over time, which could have played a role in the deteriorating employment outcomes, especially for later TWC participants.  Finally, we found important differences in the rates of program completion among RSC and TWC participants, in the characteristics of completers versus noncompleters of both programs, and in the outcomes of participants in either program according to whether or not they completed the programs.  These differences could reflect differences in observable and unobservable participant characteristics, as well as differences in the services offered by, and received by participants from, the RSC and TWC programs. In the next chapter, we examine the extent to which differences in observable characteristics of RSC and TWC participants, economic conditions, and program completion account for differences in the outcomes for RSC and TWC participants.


[1] As noted in Chapter I, because of insufficient referrals to the TWC program, this two-stage client-flow process eventually was modified so that WtW-eligible TANF recipients could be referred directly to TWC.  To be referred directly to TWC, however, WtW-eligible clients still had to have limited or no work experience or other severe barriers to employment.

[2] The proportion of the sample who do not receive TANF are most likely noncustodial parents, as males make up 5 percent of RSC participants and 1 percent of TWC participants.

[3] As already noted, the TWC program encountered enrollment challenges early in its operations that affected enrollment into our study sample.  This can be seen in the lower rate of enrollment into our study through January 2000 (Figure III.1).

[4] January 2001 was the month when TWC participants who were enrolled in the program in June 2000 and later would typically be moving to unsubsidized employment (after their six-month subsidized work experience assignment).  As noted, most RSC sample members had enrolled in the program by June 2000.

[5] Higher employment rates during the first two quarters after program enrollment for the late TWC enrollees suggest improved program success with placement in transitional work, possibly due to maturation of the program.  Worsening economic conditions could also have contributed to this pattern, since qualifying employers may have become more receptive to hosting free TWC workers.

[6] Neither the RSC nor the TWC data contained information on completion of specific program components.  The programs defined completion as a participant obtaining an unsubsidized job and retaining employment for their stipulated retention support period.  However, the available data did not include information that would allow the definition of program completion in this way.

[7] The placement rate we estimate for the TWC program is somewhat lower than those reported in other reports, including a cost analysis of WtW programs (48 percent, Perez-Johnson et al. 2002) and a study of transitional employment programs (48.5 percent, Kirby et al. 2002).  These differences mainly reflect differences in the participant samples examined.  Both earlier studies examined outcomes for TWC participants enrolled through December 2000, while this study includes participants enrolled as late as May 2002.  The placement rate we estimate could be lower because of (1) some truncation of employment records for participants enrolled later in the program, and (2) weakening economic conditions over time.

[8] We found other significant, yet counterintuitive, differences in the characteristics of TWC completers versus noncompleters.  Specifically, TWC completers were more likely to have six or more children, to have a child under age 5, and to have been on TANF for more than 24 months. Higher rates of program completion among TWC participants with six or more children and participants with younger children could reflect special efforts on the part of TWC staff to attend to the needs of such participants.  Higher rates of program completion among people on TANF for more than 24 months could reflect work participation requirements.

[9] The difference in rates for TWC participants overall (44 percent) versus TWC completers and noncompleters (41 percent) is due to missing data for participants who were still active in the intervention at the time the program provided MIS records.

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