The Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Enrollee Outcomes One Year After Program Entry. Did Employment Precede the Receipt of Skill Enhancement Services?


The 1997 legislation that initially authorized the WtW grants program permitted skill enhancement services to be provided to enrollees only after they had obtained jobs.(29)Subsequent amendments to that legislation in 1999 eased this restriction by allowing such services prior to employment for a maximum of six months. Still, it is clear that federal policymakers intended for most investment in human capital under WtW grant-funded programs to occur after, rather than before, an enrollee obtained employment.(30) We used data from the evaluation's 12-month follow-up survey to investigate whether enrollees' participation in employment and training programs was consistent with the spirit of the legislation in this regard.

Receipt of skill enhancement services following, rather than preceding, employment was the exception rather than the rule for WtW enrollees. Exhibit III.7 shows that in most of the study sites, only between one-fourth and one-half of enrollees who received basic skill enhancement services began doing so after they had become employed. The results are a bit more favorable for advanced services  about 30 to 60 percent of the enrollees who participated in vocational or technical training, occupational skills training, or college programs did so after obtaining jobs.

Three of the study sites deviated notably from the general pattern. In Baltimore County and St. Lucie County, about 75 percent of WtW enrollees who participated in basic education and training programs and approximately 85 percent of those who participated in advanced programs did so after becoming employed (Exhibit III.7). The corresponding rates in Yakima were about 10 percentage points lower than in the JHU sites, but they were nevertheless high relative to the rates in the other eight sites.

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