The Employment Retention and Advancement project: How effective are different approaches aiming to increase employment retention and advancement? Final impacts for twelve models [TAAG—Medford] (Hendra et al. 2010)
Hendra, R., Dillman, K-N., Hamilton, G., Lundquist, E., Martinson, K., Wavelet, M., Hill, A., & Williams, S. (2010). The Employment Retention and Advancement project: How effective are different approaches aiming to increase employment retention and advancement? Final impacts for twelve models. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families. [TAAG—Medford]
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- The study’s objective was to estimate the impact of post-employment job supports on former and current public assistance recipients’ employment and benefits receipt outcomes after three years. The Medford site was one of four in Oregon that participated in the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project.
- The authors randomly assigned 1,164 employed single parents who were former or current public assistance recipients to either a treatment group that received services from Medford’s ERA project (Transition, Advancement, and Growth, or TAAG), or a control group that could participate in other programs in the community. The authors analyzed data from Unemployment Insurance (UI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Food Stamps administrative records and a survey administered 12 months after random assignment.
- The study found that those assigned to the Medford ERA project earned, on average, $41 more per week when surveyed one year after random assignment than those in the control group. However, treatment group members were also 6.7 percentage points more likely to have ever received Food Stamps at the three-year follow-up than those in the control group.
- The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is high because it was based on a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Medford ERA project and not to other factors.
The ERA project was introduced in 1999 as a nationwide exploration of factors that helped welfare recipients not only find employment but retain their positions and advance in their careers. Medford, Oregon was one of 16 sites across the United States to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement a program intended to improve welfare recipients’ employment outcomes.
Medford’s ERA project, known as TAAG, provided retention- and career-focused case management services to current or recent welfare clients. Those enrolled in Food Stamps or child care programs that required clients to participate in employment or training as a condition of benefits receipt were also eligible to participate in the study. The Medford Department of Human Services, the Job Council, the Employment Department, and Rogue Community College collaborated to deliver the program. Program teams included job coaches, job counselors, job developers, case managers, learning plan specialists, and an employment specialist, all supervised by a project manager. Services included job-search assistance, counseling, assistance with supportive services and transitional benefits, and education and training referrals.
Features of the Study
From February 2002 to April 2004, about 1,164 employed single parents were randomly assigned to either a treatment group, which received ERA services, or a control group, which could participate in other programs typically offered in the community. Eligible individuals had formerly received TANF or were currently receiving the Oregon Food Stamp Employment and Training program and/or the Employment Related Day Care program. About 91 percent of participants were female and 90 percent were white non-Hispanic.
The authors estimated employment and earnings impacts by comparing regression-adjusted UI wage records of treatment and control group members over the three years after random assignment. The authors also calculated program impacts for benefits receipt measures, including whether participants received TANF or Food Stamps, through three years after random assignment using TANF and Food Stamps administrative records. Finally, the authors estimated impacts on self-reported employment and earnings using data from a 12-month survey administered to a subsample of study participants.
- The study found that participants in the Medford ERA program group earned, on average $41 more per week than those assigned to the control group, as reported in the 12-month survey. This finding was significant at the 5 percent level.
- The study also found that treatment group members were 6.7 percentage points more likely to have ever received Food Stamps at the three-year follow-up than the control group, significant at the 5 percent level.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to employment, earnings, and benefits receipt. Performing multiple statistical tests on related outcomes makes it more likely that some impacts will be found statistically significant purely by chance and not because they reflect program effectiveness. The authors did not report that they performed statistical adjustments to account for the multiple tests, so the number of statistically significant findings in these domains is likely to be overstated.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is high because it was based on a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Medford ERA project and not to other factors.
This profile was developed in collaboration with the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review (ESER).