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The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Results from the Post-Assistance Self-Sufficiency (PASS) program in Riverside, California (Navarro et al., 2007)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    Not Rated

Review Guidelines

Absence of conflict of interest. 


Navarro, D., van Dok, M., & Hendra, R. (2007). The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Results from the Post-Assistance Self-Sufficiency (PASS) program in Riverside, California. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


  • The study’s objective was to examine the implementation of the Post-Assistance Self Sufficiency (PASS) program which provides case management and employment support services for employed people who recently stopped receiving TANF payments. 
  • The implementation evaluation used administrative data, interviews with staff, a 1-year follow-up survey, and a two-week time study of case managers in the program. 
  • The study found that the PASS program succeeded in engaging many participants in the core services of the PASS program and that service providers made a variety of attempts to contact all the participants in the PASS cohort. 
  • The authors did not report their analytic methods in detail. The follow-up survey had a low sample size and response bias. 
  • The embedded impact study was reviewed by CLEAR in April 2016

Intervention Examined

The Post-Assistance Self Sufficiency (PASS) Program

Features of the Intervention

HHS launched the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) programs in the late 1990s to build the body of knowledge on services to help welfare recipients retain their jobs and advance their careers. The PASS Program, part of the ERA programs, was designed in 2001 as a complement to the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services’ (DPSS) other programs for employed and unemployed TANF recipients. Participants were able to voluntarily engage in PASS program activities including case management, job preparation and placement, life skills workshops (at 1 site), referrals to community partners, and receipt of other supportive funding for things like transportation. Those in the PASS program cohort were also subject to a number of outreach efforts by program staff to encourage participation in the voluntary program. Additional services were provided in some locations by other CBOs and one community college.

Features of the Study

PASS was designed for employed people who recently stopped receiving TANF funds and began delivering services in 2002. People participating in concurrent studies or evaluations were excluded. Eligible TANF leavers were assigned to receive the intervention at 5 sites across Riverside County, California beginning in 2002. The intervention ended in mid-2004. A total of 2,770 people were served by the PASS program. Baseline data were collected at intake. Administrative data were used to document participation and engagement in services. A random subset of participants was given a 12-month survey to further measure participation. Researchers conducted a two-week time study at all five sites to record how case managers were using their time and what services they were providing. Throughout the course of the study, researchers interviewed frontline staff and administrators to learn more about the program's implementation. Some case files were also reviewed. The researchers chose to implement and evaluate the PASS program at CBOs in Riverside County based on the assumption that the target population would be more likely to engage with them, rather than County staff themselves. The authors did not include a measure of fidelity in the report. 

Study Sites

  • Center for Employment Training (CET), serving Indio, Coachella, and Temecula 
  • Volunteer Center, serving Corona, Norco, and Lake Elsinore 
  • Valley Restart, serving Hemet, San Jacinto, and Perris 
  • Riverside Community College (RCC), serving Riverside and Moreno Valley 
  • DPSS Rancho Mirage, serving Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage 


Intervention activities/services: 

  • The study found that staff attempted to contact all the participants recruited into the program through a variety of programs and they succeeded in convincing many participants to engage with the PASS. 
  • The study found that participants in the PASS program engaged with case management (32.3% of all participants), received training referrals (7.9%), and obtained job search support (15%). 
  • The study found that the concerted outreach efforts included in the PASS program improved engagement outcomes compared to more passive outreach methods. 
  • The study found that assistance payments for rent, utilities, and transportation were seen as the most valuable aspects of the PASS program. 

Implementation challenges and solutions:

  • The study found that locating and recruiting members of the PASS cohort were hard because data were not up to date. 
  • The study found that staff turnover at some sites hindered implementation of the PASS program. 
  • The study found that sites with the most persistent outreach and greatest range of additional community partners saw the most success in sustaining participant engagement in the voluntary program activities. 

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The independent research team did not describe their analytic methods in detail. Also, the survey had a low sample size and response biases. The research team did try to limit their use of the survey data but any findings based on the survey data should be considered less generalizable. 

Reviewed by CLEAR

July 2023

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