The Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Enrollee Outcomes One Year After Program Entry. What Services Did WtW Enrollees Receive?


PRWORA, the 1996 federal legislation that authorized TANF, requires parents or caretakers (with some exceptions) to engage in work within twenty-four months of receiving assistance and gives states the flexibility to establish shorter work requirements, which most have done.(20) Programs funded by WtW grants were expected to complement this "work first" emphasis by providing hard-to-employ TANF recipients and others at risk of long-term welfare dependency primarily with employment preparation services.(21) These services either help individuals overcome barriers that prevent them from securing employment or facilitate their progress in doing so. They typically address specific problems and are of short duration. In contrast, skill enhancement services help individuals qualify for better jobs than they otherwise would. These services, often referred to as "education and training," are designed to broadly increase human capital and may be of longer duration. The BBA restricted the provision of skill enhancement services funded by WtW grants to the post-employment period.(22) However, the 1999 amendments expanded the list of allowable pre-employment services to include education and training, but capped the duration of these services at six months.(23)

A 2002 report on the implementation of the WtW grants program, prepared under this evaluation, gives an in-depth description of the services provided by local programs (Nightingale et al. 2002). That description is based on data extracted from program administrative files and on information gathered through on-site observations of program operations, reviews of written policies, and interviews with program staff.

For the current analysis, we used WtW enrollees' self-reports of the services that they received during the year following their entry into the program, as gathered in this evaluation's 12-month follow-up survey. This methodology is limited by that fact that the survey respondents may not have known whether the services that they received were delivered by WtW-funded providers or other organizations. Thus, while we can use the survey data to richly document the receipt of services by WtW enrollees, we cannot be certain whether they were provided under the auspices of the WtW program. However, the types of services reported by the survey respondents are broadly consistent with the findings by Nightingale et al. (2002) on the services provided by the WtW grant-funded programs in the study sites. Consequently, we believe that WtW-funded providers did in fact deliver many, or even most, of the services that WtW enrollees reported receiving.

Section A of this chapter documents the receipt by WtW enrollees of the shorter-term and more narrowly focused employment preparation services that were expected to be central to WtW-funded programs. Section B describes enrollees' receipt of skill enhancement services. The chapter concludes with a classification of the 11 sites that participated in this evaluation, based on the services received by enrollees in those sites.

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