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


In 1967, Congress adopted the Work Incentives (WIN) program, "the first truly national effort to promote the self-support of welfare recipients (Pacific Consultants 1976, p. 12).(1) WIN was a joint program of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare that required welfare offices to refer certain AFDC recipients for employment and training, including women without children under age 6.

In the first-generation WIN program, DOL-funded state employment services offices provided employment, subsidized on-the-job training (OJT), vocational training, and monthly participation stipends to employable (and, in the case of females, mostly voluntary) AFDC recipients referred to them by welfare agencies. Including supportive services (but not child care), costs ranged from $2,868 to $4,106 in four specific sites. The average OJT subsidy was $2,400, and the mean cost for vocational training programs was nearly $12,000 (Levitan 1972, p. 102).

In 1971, WIN was substantially altered because of Congress's dissatisfaction with program results and continued concerns about growing AFDC caseloads. WIN II mandated registration among all recipients over age 16 for employment services, fewer preemployment support services, and quicker job placement. Average program costs dropped to $2,014 for male participants, although costs were higher for men in OJT ($2,399), training ($6,374) or public jobs ($16,976) and around $1,000 higher for women because of child care costs. In general, WIN II participants had fewer, shorter welfare spells than nonparticipants and were more likely to be male and high school graduates (Pacific Consultants 1976).

WIN programs were reformed yet again in 1981, through the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA). Under OBRA, states could limit programs to job search and/or unpaid work experience, or they could incorporate a more "balanced" approach that also included supportive services, counseling, and training for participants. WIN job search and unpaid work experience programs were substantially less costly than earlier programs, ranging from $221 to $902 in seven evaluated sites (Maxfield 1990). Programs were short, focused on the most employable participants, and provided fewer supportive services and little or no access to education and training activities (Pacific Consultants 1976). Balanced programs, which offered more services, including education, job training, and child care, were more costly. Program costs in four sites ranged from $1,350 to $3,171, still lower than costs for the first-generation WIN programs (O'Neill 1990; and Maxfield 1990).

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