Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study’s objective was to examine the implementation of the Transition, Advancement, and Growth (TAAG) program, which provided employment retention, career advancement, and case management services in Medford, Oregon for working-poor persons receiving public benefits provided by Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).
- The study authors conducted an implementation evaluation using interviews with staff, participant case files, focus groups, observations, and program assessments.
- The study found that staff provided individualized employment retention and advancement services. Staff initially focused on crisis management but over time focused more on career advancement. Staff had challenges keeping clients engaged.
- The report was well-structured and clearly written. However, the authors provided few details on the implementation study analysis and quality assurance.
- The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in October 2016.
Transition, Advancement, and Growth (TAAG) Program
Features of the Intervention
- Type of organization: Government agency
- Location/setting: Single site in Medford, Oregon
- Population served and scale: Current or recent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program participants or people enrolled in other benefit programs (1,164 total)
- Industry focus: Not included
- Intervention activities: Employment retention, career advancement, and case management services
- Organizational partnerships: Government, non-profit, community college
- Cost: Not included
- Fidelity: Not included
The Employment Retention and Advancement project (ERA) was conceived of in 1998 by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Human Services (HHS).
Medford OR's TAAG program, which operated between June 2002 and July 2005, was one of 16 ERA program models funded by ACF. TAAG aimed to promote job retention and career growth among recently employed TANF program participants or people enrolled in food stamps or childcare programs that required that required clients to participate in employment and training as a condition of employment. The program served three groups: recently employed TANF recipients, working people who were participating in the Oregon Food Stamp Employment and Training Program (a state-mandated program for food stamp recipients), and the Employment-Related Day Care Program (a program providing childcare subsidies to low-income working families).
Services were individualized based on client interest and need and were provided by a case manager, job counselor, job coach, learning plan specialist, and employment specialist and supervised by a project manager. Program clients first took part in an intake interview and developed a Personal Development Plan that included steps to accomplish their goals. Staff took a strength-based approach to help clients retain their jobs and then advance in their jobs or find a better job. Services included job searches, job coaching, budgeting and financial planning, career advice, conflict resolution, assistance in identifying training and education, help finding financial aid, and referrals to support services. The staff were from four partner agencies: the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), The Job Council (a nonprofit), Rogue Community College (RCC), and the Oregon Employment Department (ED).
Features of the Study
The study assessed program implementation data on program operations. Participant demographic data were obtained from DHS, interviews with participants, or forms completed by participants. Program operations data were obtained from interviews with staff, participant case files, focus groups, observations, and program assessments. The study site was The Jobs Council administrative office in Medford, OR. The study included 1,164 treatment and control members who were part of a single-parent households. People who were eligible for the study were contacted to assess their interest in study services. If interested in the services, they were randomly assigned to the study. Study participants were 91.1% female and 89.9% white, and almost all (99.7%) spoke English as their primary language. A total of 44.8% were between the ages of 20-30, and 33.7% were ages 31-40. A total of 40.3% had a high school diploma and 21.5% had obtained their GED. The majority (62.6%) had received AFDC/TANF in the past.
- The study found that staff provided individualized employment retention and advancement services.
- The study found that staff initially focused on crisis management but over time focused more on career advancement.
- The study found that TAAG clients were not assigned to one case manager; case management services were delivered by all staff. Later in the program, caseloads grew, and staff became more specialized.
- The study found that job retention services, especially at the beginning of the program, were conflated with assisting clients with personal problems.
- The study found that contrary to program design, staff addressed job advancement in all program phases.
Implementation challenges and solutions
- The study found that staff faced challenges keeping clients engaged.
- The study found that funding cuts during implementation resulted in reductions in staff hours and client resources.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors provided few details on the study analysis and quality assurance.