Understanding the Costs of the DOL Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. Programs Included in the Cost Analysis


The process and implementation analysis explored the implementation of the full range of WtW grant-funded initiatives in the grantee study sites. These grantee initiatives often included multiple programs  distinct interventions offering different mixes of services, targeting specific groups of WtW-eligible clients, or operated by different contractors. The cost analysis focuses on a subset of the programs that received operational support through WtW grant funds in the evaluation's in-depth study sites. Eighteen WtW programs out of a possible 36 from 9 of the 10 in-depth study sites are included.(6) (Table C.1 in Appendix C identifies the programs excluded from this analysis.)

The programs included in the WtW cost analysis were purposefully selected. Whenever possible, we sought to develop cost estimates for all programs that were enrolling a sample of participants for the evaluation's outcomes study. Because these programs were more intensively involved in the evaluation, it was more feasible to collaborate with local staff to collect this type of information.

This was not possible in all in-depth study sites, however. In two in-depth evaluation sites  Boston and Fort Worth  the grantees enrolled WtW study participants and then referred them to as many as 13 different programs.(7) In these two sites, it would have been impractical to collect and analyze cost information for all these programs, so we selected a subset of the programs that could potentially serve WtW sample members. The cost analysis includes those programs that served the largest number of WtW participants and that reflected (to the extent possible) the variety of WtW service delivery approaches that was evident at the grantee site.

The WtW programs differed along three important dimensions (Table I.2):(8)

1.Service Locations. Most (16) of the programs operated out of one or two locations. However, the West Virginia program, which covered 29 rural counties, had six offices, and the Nashville program, which contracted with several service providers, had seven offices.

2. Target Population. All of the cost analysis programs were open to all WtW-eligible participants. However, many developed interventions that were more specifically tailored to the needs of a particular segment of this population. Of the 18 programs

Table I.2
Characteristics of the Wtw Cost Analysis Programs
WtW Program Services
In-Depth Study Site:
WtW Program Operator
Service Delivery Locations Target Population Outreach and Recruitment Job Readiness Case Management Paid Work Experience Job Development and Placement Subsidized Employment Post-
employment Followup
Advancement Incentives
Support Services
Marriott 1 Relatively job-ready X X X   X   X    
Partners 1 Relatively job-ready X X X   X   X    
Catholic Charities 2 Hard-to-serve   X X X X   X   X
Employment and Employer Services (E&ES) 1 General WtW-eligible   X X   X X X   X
Easter Seals 1 Hard-to-serve   X X X X X X   X
Maximus 2 General WtW-eligible   X X   X   X   X
Pyramid 1 Relatively job-ready   X X X X   X   X
Fort Worth:
Arlington Night Shelter (ANS) 1 Homeless   X X   X   X X X
Women's Center (WC) 1 General WtW-eligible   X X   X   X   X
Johns Hopkins University:
Florida 1 Employed X X X   X   X X  
Maryland 1 Employed X X X   X   X    
Pathways 7 General WtW-eligible X X X X X   X   X
Transitional Work Corporation (TWC) 1 Hard-to-serve X X X X X   X X X
Employment And Respect Now (EARN) 1 EC residents X X X   X   X   X
West Virginia:
Human Resources Development (HRD) 6 Rural residents X X X X X X X X X
People for People (PFP) 2 WtW-eligible/ NCPs   X X X X   X   X
Farm Workers Clinic (FWC) 1 Migrant workers   X X X X   X   X
Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) 1 General WtW-eligible   X X X X   X   X
Note:  EC = enterprise community; NCPs = noncustodial parents.

included in the cost analysis, 8 targeted hard-to-serve individuals.(9) Five programs targeted WtW-eligible individuals more generally, and two targeted WtW-eligible recipients who had already found employment.

3. Complementary Services. The content, intensity, and method of delivering WtW services varied across the programs. All of the WtW cost analysis programs, however, provided some form of job readiness, case management, job placement and postemployment follow-up services (Table I.2). The programs varied more in the extent to which they offered other services. Fourteen programs provided some assistance with support services such as child care and transportation (always to supplement those provided by TANF), but four relied only on TANF-funded support services. Similarly, eight programs engaged in some outreach and recruitment activities, while the other 10 relied primarily on referrals from the local TANF offices to identify and enroll WtW-eligible participants. Nine of the 18 programs offered paid work experience to their WtW participants; three offered subsidized employment with private employers. Four of the cost analysis programs used incentives to reward participants for good performance or achievement of notable employment milestones, although this was not a major emphasis of any intervention.

As we discuss in the following chapters, the costs of these programs varied in ways that were consistent with these differences. This variation is a rich source of information and yields important insights into WtW program operations. Chapter II describes the methods we used to estimate the full costs of operating these programs and presents our cost estimates. Chapter III explores the variation in measures of total and unit costs for WtW programs. Chapter IV places our cost findings in the larger context of evaluations of programs that have worked to link welfare recipients to employment.


1.  The BBA required that at least 70 percent of all WtW grant funds (both formula and competitive) be spent on individuals with a specific combination of employment barriers. They could be TANF recipients who themselves (1) had been receiving TANF or AFDC for 30 or more months or were within 12 months of reaching a time limit; and (2) faced two of three specific barriers to employment  lack of a high-school diploma or GED certificate and low reading or math skills; substance abuse problems; or a poor work history. Alternatively, they could be noncustodial parents who faced two of these same three barriers and had children in a long-term TANF case. As the WtW programs were implemented, it quickly became clear that the congressionally defined eligibility criteria were slowing enrollment and limiting participation. Therefore, the WtW eligibility rules were amended in November 1999. These amendments left intact the requirement that 70 percent of WtW funds be spent on a defined category of participants, but broadened this category to make it easier for both TANF recipients and noncustodial parents to qualify for WtW services. (For more details, see Perez-Johnson et al. 1999.)

2.  This extension was granted in response to the difficulties that most grantees encountered enrolling WtW-eligible individuals, which lasted for most of the grants' original implementation period. The restrictiveness of legislatively defined eligibility criteria was a major contributing factor to these difficulties. These implementation issues are discussed in more detail in Fender et al. 2000 and other reports from the national evaluation.

3.  For results of the two surveys, see Perez-Johnson and Hershey 1999, and Perez-Johnson et al. 2000. Findings from the exploratory site visits are discussed in Nightingale et al. 2000.

4.  Findings from the first round of process visits are discussed in Nightingale 2001. Topical briefs on recruitment challenges and strategies (Fender et al. 2000) and on the approaches used by programs serving noncustodial parents (Martinson et al. 2000) are also available.

5.  Results for the first year of the tribal program evaluation are reported in Hillabrant and Rhoades 2000.

6.  We were unable to collect cost information for the Milwaukee study site, the NOW program, operated by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

7.  In Boston, individuals determined eligible for WtW could be referred to one of 11 "employer partnerships" or two "enhanced community service" programs.

8.  Appendix A contains detailed profiles of these programs.

9.  These include the Philadelphia-TWC, Chicago-Catholic Charities, and Chicago-Easter Seals programs, which targeted individuals generally considered hard-to-employ because of limited work experience, substance abuse problems, or physical disabilities. They also include programs that targeted residents in Phoenix's enterprise community, homeless individuals (Fort Worth-ANS), residents from the extremely isolated rural areas in West Virginia, and migrant farmworkers (Yakima-FWC) or noncustodial parents (Yakima-PFP). While the BBA did not categorize noncustodial parents as "hard-to-employ," the experience of WtW programs aiming to work with this group suggests that they can have many obstacles to program participation and employment (see Martinson et al. 2000).

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