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

02/01/2004

The prototypical design for employment preparation services in a WtW program calls for teaching fundamental on-the-job behavior skills (job readiness training), followed by the provision of job search/placement services. The latter includes resume preparation, interview practice, and assistance in finding a job. These core services may be complemented by ancillary services that address specific problems or barriers to work, such as a substance abuse problem. Ancillary services may also include the provision of continuing support to enrollees who have achieved employment.

Most of the sites that participated in this evaluation conformed fairly closely to the prototypical design. The sites that deviated most sharply from it were Baltimore County and St. Lucie County (the two JHU sites), Nashville, and Milwaukee. The distinctive features of the WtW program designs in these four sites are highlighted later in this section.

During the year following program entry, the employment preparation assistance most frequently received by WtW enrollees in all of the 11 study sites were core services: job readiness training and job search/placement services. Job readiness training was received by more than half of the WtW enrollees in seven of the study sites and by about four in ten enrollees in the remaining sites (Exhibit III.2). Job search/placement services were equally common, with a very similar pattern of receipt across the study sites. Enrollees in Philadelphia were most likely to receive job readiness training and job search/placement services, while enrollees in Ft. Worth were least likely to receive them.

Fewer enrollees received ancillary services. The most common of these were life skills training, received by 25 to 50 percent of enrollees (Appendix Exhibit B.1), and counseling, received by roughly 20 to 40 percent of enrollees (Exhibit III.2). The remaining ancillary services  including mediation and substance abuse treatment  were generally received by no more than 15 percent of enrollees in a site. The exceptions to this pattern tend to be in the four sites where the WtW programs deviated most sharply from the prototypical design.

The distinctive nature of the Johns Hopkins University program model is revealed in the patterns of service receipt displayed in Exhibit III.2. The JHU model emphasizes job retention, skills development, and job advancement among employed individuals. Consistent with that model, WtW enrollees in the Baltimore County and St. Lucie County JHU sites received job readiness training and job search/placement services at lower rates than did enrollees in most of the other study sites but had higher rates of receipt of counseling and mediation services.(25)

The Nashville Works/Pathways program was based on the Project Match model, which emphasizes a holistic, human development approach to helping people move toward employment. This model specifies the provision of intensive case management, problem-solving assistance, and a broad range of other services in a supportive peer-group environment. Accordingly, the Nashville enrollees were more likely to have received counseling, structured peer support, mediation services, and mental health services than those in most of the other study sites.

Milwaukee's NOW program serves noncustodial parents who are on probation or parole or who are about to be released from prison. Although this program has a strong work-first emphasis in principle, the rates at which enrollees received the core employment preparation services were lower in Milwaukee than in all of the other study sites except Ft. Worth. On the other hand, NOW enrollees had relatively high rates of receipt of counseling and of ancillary services that were rarely received by WtW enrollees in other sites  including participation in peer support groups, legal assistance, and substance abuse treatment. This distinctive set of employment preparation services is consistent with the needs of the unusual population (for WtW programs) served by the program.

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