Welfare-to-Work Grants Programs: Adjusting to Changing Circumstances. 2. Programs and Services in 2003


About half of the programs still active in 2003 were operating basically as they had in 2001, although some minor modifications were being made as they prepared for the phase-out of the grant. In the other half of active programs in the study sites, a fair amount of program change was initiated in 2002 and 2003 — program models and services were modified, and in some places new projects were just beginning.

Program Modifications

Program modifications were made in 2002 and 2003 for two general reasons: (1) to continue to refine or improve the basic program model based on ongoing experience, and (2) to alter the client flow in preparation for the end of the WtW grant.

Refining Program Models. Administrators were asked to describe the types of changes that had been made to their programs since our last visit in 2001. Our earlier visits had identified three general types of programs, although in many places the program service models were still being refined in 2001. The three types of programs identified were:

  • Enhanced Direct Employment Programs, where the emphasis is on providing participants with individualized pre-employment support, counseling, and case management, along with post-employment services for usually a year.
  • Developmental/Transitional Employment Programs, where the program emphasizes skills development, often along with transitional, subsidized, or community service employment.
  • Intensive Post-Employment Skills Development Programs, where the primary objective is to improve both job retention and specific occupational skills primarily by working with individuals after they start a job.

In general, the same program models were operating in 2003, but several administrators explained that they had incorporated new approaches or modified their staff services based on the experience they had gained in the previous two years about how their programs could be improved. The Philadelphia TWC program, for example, shifted to an interdisciplinary case management model, assigning staff to work in teams to assist participants. Similarly, the Milwaukee NOW program added new service components, such as short-term paid work experience jobs and anger management workshops to address specific income and behavioral needs of the noncustodial fathers on parole or probation that they were serving.

Changing the Client Flow. The most common program modifications made in 2002 and 2003 related to preparing for the end of the WtW grants. Programs were not altered in major ways, but arrangements were made to help transition WtW participants still active when the grant ends to other programs or funding sources.

In most study sites where WtW programs had already ended at the time of our contact, WtW participants active when the funding ended had been referred to One-Stop Career Centers or other employment and training programs in the community. The referrals usually began about one month before the end of the grant period. In sites where the WtW grantee is the WIA agency, this referral process was evidently quite "seamless," requiring minimal action on the part of the participant and services usually continued without interruption.

For instance, in Phoenix EARN and all of the projects in Chicago funded by the Workforce Agency's WtW grant, staff helped participants create individual plans to follow when their program ended. Administrators in both Phoenix and Chicago explained that nearly all those who were still actively participating when program funding ended were absorbed by other programs funded by WIA and/or TANF. In both sites, most WtW participants were referred to other programs or One-Stop Centers. The situation in Tarrant County, Texas, was even more direct since the WtW grantee also has responsibility for TANF and Food Stamps work programs as well as being the WIA agency. The availability of these various funding sources (e.g., WIA, TANF, and Food Stamps Employment and Training) enabled most participants in WtW-funded programs to complete their activities even after WtW funds ended.

New Programs

While most WtW grantees and projects were beginning to phase down in 2002 and transition participants to other programs, two study grantees (WIA agencies in Chicago and Tarrant County, Texas) used some of their remaining grants to fund new projects that started in 2002. The decision to start new programs with their remaining funds in part reflects the optimism in those sites that other funding sources will be identified to continue the programs after the WtW grant ends. In both sites several of the earliest WtW-funded projects also continued to operate. In Chicago in 2003, the WtW grantee (the Mayors Office of Workforce Development, or MOWD) was still funding over a dozen programs with WtW funds. A couple of programs had ended, but a new program, Working Together, started in April 2002, and is scheduled to continue with WtW funding through March 2004. This new program is a joint MOWD and Public Health initiative, for TANF clients meeting WtW eligibility criteria and having substance abuse problems. It is administered by South West Women Working Together, a non-profit organization and other subcontractors, and provides job training, in-/out-patient substance abuse treatment, and other services.

Similarly, in Tarrant County, Texas, the WIA agency, Work Advantage, continues to fund several projects with their formula and competitive WtW grants, and is using some of the remaining grant funds to support new services for noncustodial parents (NCPs). Work Advantage is contracting with a nonprofit human service agency to provide services for NCPs, collaborating with the Tarrant County Fatherhood Coalition to promote responsible fatherhood and expansion of employment services available to NCPs in Tarrant County.

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