WtW enrollees in the 11 study sites were only about half as likely to receive skill enhancement services during the year following enrollment in WtW as they were to receive the employment preparation services discussed in the previous section. Rates of participation in education and training ranged from 24 to 47 percent across the study sites (Exhibit III.4). Only in three sites did participation rates exceed 40 percent: Baltimore County, Nashville, and St. Lucie County. This is consistent with the focus of the programs operating in these sites. In Baltimore and St. Lucie counties, the JHU program aims to help already-employed participants move into better jobs. The Nashville program emphasizes human development and operates under Tennessee's federal TANF waiver that expanded the allowable services to permit a broader set of activities to satisfy work requirements.
The WtW enrollees who received skill enhancement services almost always received them in conjunction with employment preparation services, rather than by themselves. The Boston study site typifies this pattern; about nine of every ten enrollees in that site who received skill enhancement services also received employment preparation services (Appendix Exhibit B.27). This ratio was lowest in Baltimore County, but even there, three-fourths of recipients of skill enhancement services also received employment preparation services. In contrast, WtW enrollees typically received employment preparation services by themselves. Only between one-fourth and one-half of recipients of employment preparation services also received skill enhancement services. Thus, while skill enhancement services were rarely received on a stand-alone basis, employment preparation services usually were.
What Types of Skill Enhancement Services Did Enrollees Receive?
Rates of receipt of specific types of skill enhancement services did not exceed 20 percent other than for a few exceptional services in Baltimore County, Milwaukee, Nashville, and St. Lucie County (Exhibit III.5). These rates are well below those for the core employment preparation services but are comparable to those for some of the less common ancillary employment preparation services, such as mediation and mental health services. About 10 to 20 percent of WtW enrollees participated in GED/high school programs and in advanced education programs,(28) while 5 to 10 percent participated in adult basic education (ABE). Virtually no enrollees in any site other than Boston participated in English as a second language (ESL) programs; restrictions on the receipt of TANF by recent immigrants may have limited the number of WtW enrollees who could benefit from this instruction.
Milwaukee/NOW and Nashville Works/Pathways enrollees were most likely to participate in GED or high school programs, whereas enrollees in the two JHU programs were most likely to participate in college and other advanced education programs (Exhibit III.5). Enrollees in the Nashville site also had relatively high rates of participation in ABE and in advanced programs.
What Were the Duration and Intensity of Skill Enhancement Services?
The skill enhancement services received by WtW enrollees typically lasted for two to six months and entailed a commitment of 10 to 20 hours per week (Exhibit III.6). Thus, receipt of these services represented a substantially larger investment in human capital than did receipt of employment preparation services. Enrollees in the Milwaukee/NOW program who participated in GED or high school education programs did so for 12 hours per week for five months, on average. Their counterparts in Nashville were even more intensively engaged in these programs, averaging 12 hours of participation per week for five months. Enrollees in the Baltimore County and St. Lucie County JHU programs who participated in advanced education programs did so for roughly 15 hours per week over an interval of three to four months, on average.
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.