Understanding the Costs of the DOL Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. Jobs

08/01/2002

In 1988, the Family Support Act replaced WIN with the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program. Local welfare agencies were fully responsible for administering the program. Participation was mandatory for those without children under age 3, and it not deferred for illness, remoteness from the program, lack of child care, or other reasons. JOBS also required states to target individuals who were long-term AFDC recipients or whose characteristics put them at risk for long or repeat welfare spells. With JOBS, states shifted to an emphasis on longer-term education and training (U.S. General Accounting Office 1999). They also expanded case management to include closer case supervision and employment counseling, sometimes provided by specialized workers.

JOBS programs usually offered two program tracks. One began with job search but gave participants who did not get jobs access to additional assessment, then to education. The second track, for those considered less job-ready, emphasized basic education and job readiness activities, followed by job search (Scrivener et al. 1998; and Hamilton et al. 1997). Costs ranged from $1,930 to $4,098 in three evaluation sites (Scrivener et al. 1998; Storto et al. 2000; and Farrell et al. 2000) and from $3,278 to $6,971 in Greater Avenues to Independence (GAIN) programs operated in six California counties, five of which strongly emphasized the education track (Riccio et al. 1994).(2)

A side-by-side comparison of JOBS programs that emphasized either rapid employment (called the labor force attachment approach) or skill-building activities (called the human capital approach) in three sites showed that costs ranged from $1,302 to $3,203 for labor force attachment programs. The costs of human capital programs in the three sites were higher, ranging from $3,196 to $4,914 (Table B.1).

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