The Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Enrollee Outcomes One Year After Program Entry. WtW Enrollees Received Services That Differed Greatly Across Sites


Rather than mandating a specific set of services, the WtW grants program provided local programs with funding and considerable latitude to design their own service packages. It is therefore not surprising that enrollees in the local programs received services that varied greatly from one site to the next. The following conclusions are based on enrollee self-reports of the services they actually received, rather than on the design of the programs in which they enrolled.

WtW enrollees were much more likely to receive employment preparation services than skill enhancement services. Consistent with the legislation that authorized the WtW grants program, more than two-thirds of enrollees in each of the 11 study sites received services that were designed to prepare them for and move them into employment. However, there was considerable variability across the sites in the types and duration of these services. Only in three sites (Baltimore County, St. Lucie County, and Milwaukee) did more than a third of enrollees receive services, such as those provided by longer-term education and training programs, that were designed to enhance their skills so that they could qualify for better jobs.

The employment preparation services that WtW enrollees received were more consistent with rapid job entry in some sites than in others. WtW enrollees in Phoenix and Yakima received employment preparation services that were highly consistent with a rapid transition to employment. Those services consisted primarily of brief job readiness training followed by assisted job search. In contrast, enrollees in Boston, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, and West Virginia typically received extended job readiness training (or, in the case of Nashville, education and training) followed by job search assistance. The time it took to become employed was generally lower for enrollees in the former group of sites than the latter, reflecting these differences in services received.

The few WtW enrollees who did receive skill enhancement services typically began receiving them prior to obtaining employment. Even as subsequently amended, the federal legislation that authorized the WtW grants program reflects a philosophy that skill enhancement services (education and training) should commence after, not before, employment. But this proved to be the exception rather than the rule. In most of the study sites, only between about one-fourth and one-half of WtW enrollees who participated in basic education and training programs had obtained their initial post-enrollment jobs prior to entering those programs. The proportions were marginally higher for advanced education and training programs; however, only in Baltimore and St. Lucie counties (hosts to the JHU program, which targeted employed individuals) and in Yakima were at least three-fourths of the enrollees who participated in advanced programs employed prior to entering those programs.

The proportion of WtW enrollees who received any employment preparation services appears to be related to the design of the WtW enrollment process. In every study site, some individuals reported that they had not received any employment preparation services after enrolling in WtW. The proportion of such individuals was small in most sites, but it was as large as one-third in Ft. Worth. This outcome may have been a function of the WtW enrollment process in Ft. Worth, which typically occurred at TANF offices rather than at the locations of WtW service providers. If enrollees referred to WtW service providers failed to show, they would receive no services. In contrast, WtW enrollment in Philadelphia typically occurred at the location of a service provider, thus minimizing the risk of no-shows. And the proportion of enrollees who reported that they had not received any employment preparation services was also lowest in Philadelphia.

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