Welfare-to-Work Grants Programs: Adjusting to Changing Circumstances. 3. Enrollment Levels in 2003


A particularly important aspect of the implementation of the WtW grant-funded programs was that the start-up phase was quite slow. It took about two years in most sites to establish intake, enrollment, outreach, and recruitment procedures. The time extension granted by Congress in 1999 allowed programs more time that would presumably help them reach their goals. But the slow start meant that cumulative enrollment levels by 2002, after three years, were still lower than administrators had initially planned.

By design, the programs are relatively smallscale in terms of numbers of participants (compared, for example, to TANF work programs which often serve nearly all adult welfare recipients in a community). The programs range in size from less than 200 in each of the JHU projects and some small projects in Chicago and Fort Worth, to over 7,000 in the TWC program in Philadelphia (funded partly by WtW grants). Most of the programs had difficulty with enrollment and recruitment early in the grant period. After two years, programs had incorporated various types of outreach and recruitment that helped increase enrollment, and most programs extended their operational timetable to use the entire five-year period. As a result, by mid-2003 all the study grantees except Nashville had reached or were close to reaching their original enrollment goals over the five-year period allowed by Congress (compared to the original legislation which allowed three years) (Exhibit 2). Three sites (Philadelphia TWC, Boston, and Indiana RVR) exceeded their planned enrollment levels.

Exhibit 2.
Planned and Actual Enrollment, WtW Programs In Study Sites, April 2003

Exhibit 2. Planned and Actual Enrollment, WtW Programs In Study Sites, April 2003.

Because many WtW-funded projects were still operating in 2003, total cumulative enrollments had increased over the 2001 level noted in our 2002 report. By April 2003, about 23,000 individuals (cumulative total from the start of the programs) had enrolled in the eleven sites studied (up from about 18,000 in mid-2001), for an average of about 2,000 per site (up from an average of about 1,650 per site in mid 2001).

By early 2003, all WtW programs in the study sites had either already stopped enrolling new participants into the WtW-funded projects or had plans to halt enrollment before their grant funding ends. Five of the eleven grantees (Boston, Milwaukee, JHU-CTS, Phoenix, and West Virginia HRDF) had stopped enrolling participants in WtW sometime between mid-2001 and early 2003. The other six study grantees plan to halt formal enrollment for WtW purposes later in 2003 or early 2004. Administrators explained that they will continue to serve enrolled participants as long as possible with WtW funds, but plan to stop enlisting new participants at least a few months before the end of the grant funding.

To summarize enrollment activities in the six study sites where programs were still operating as of April 2003:

  • Yakima and Fort Worth had stopped enrolling new TANF participants into the basic WtW grant-funded component, but participants were still being enrolled into the special WtW grant-funded project for noncustodial parents.
  • In Chicago, several programs stopped enrollment in 2002, and each of the original programs that were still operating in 2003 were planning to stop official enrollment for WtW purposes no later than one month before their project end dates. Since they all expect to continue to operate with other (non-WtW) funds, those participants still active would be transferred to other funding sources. The newest WtW-funded program for TANF recipients with substance abuse problems will continue to enroll participants into early 2004.
  • Indiana RVR projects were still enrolling clients, but had stopped recruiting due to limited funds remaining.
  • Nashville Pathways was still enrolling new participants, and will do so until early 2004.
  • Philadelphia TWC was also still enrolling new clients with no plans to halt enrollment. Once the WtW grant ends, participants will be served with other (mainly state TANF) funds.

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