Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) on employment, earnings, and public benefits receipt in seven sites. This profile focuses on the outcomes of the TransitionsSF program in San Francisco, California. The authors investigated similar research questions for other sites, the profiles of which can be found here.
- The study was a randomized controlled trial of a transitional job program in San Francisco, CA that assigned noncustodial parents to the transitional job group or control group. Using surveys and administrative records, the authors conducted statistical models to compare the outcomes of the transitional job and control group participants 30 months after the participants entered the study.
- The study found that transitional job program participants had significantly higher earnings and were more likely to be employed during the follow-up period compared to participants in the control group.
- This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to TransitionsSF, and not to other factors.
Features of the Intervention
The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services selected seven organizations to operate transitional job programs for low-income noncustodial parents or formerly incarcerated individuals. Each Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration program was structured differently but they all included enhancements aimed at improving outcomes compared to traditional transitional job programs. The enhancements included structural changes to how job placements occurred, enhanced support or assistance, and child support incentives.
The TransitionsSF program in San Francisco, CA was operated by Goodwill Industries with the San Francisco Department of Child Support Services. The TransitionsSF program served noncustodial parents who owed child support but were unemployed and not able to pay. Participants first completed assessments to determine whether they needed substance abuse services, mental health services, or other services and were referred to the appropriate service if necessary. During this time, they also participated in two weeks of job-readiness training to help them develop their soft skills. They then were placed in subsidized transitional jobs either in a nonprofit, public sector, or private sector institution for five months. Participants received job search assistance for one year if the participant had not found a job. Participants also received financial incentives and child support assistance.
Features of the Study
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of TransitionsSF. Of the 995 participants who enrolled in the study between 2011 and 2013, 502 were randomly assigned to TransitionsSF (treatment group) and 493 were assigned to the control group. Participants in the control group were given information about other services available in their communities. The majority of the participants were male (88 percent), with an average age of 40 years. Sixty-eight percent of participants were Black, 19 percent were Hispanic, 3 percent were White, and 10 percent were another race. The study team examined the effects of the program on employment, earnings, and public benefits receipt outcomes 30 months after the participants entered the study. Data sources included a self-reported participant survey, the National Directory of New Hires, and administrative records. The authors used statistical models to compare the outcomes of treatment and control group participants.
Earnings and wages
- The study found that treatment participants earned significantly more during the 30-month follow-up period than participants in the control group ($23,058 vs. $16,984, respectively).
- However, the study did not find a significant difference between the groups in total earnings in the last year of the follow-up period.
- The study found that more treatment participants than control participants were ever employed in the last year of the follow-up period (62 percent vs. 54 percent), and were employed in all four quarters of the last year (33 percent vs. 25 percent). These differences were significant.
- The study also found that treatment participants were significantly more likely to report permanent employment at the time of the 30-month survey compared to control participants (36 percent vs. 27 percent).
Public benefits receipt
- The study did not find any significant differences in receipt of food stamps between treatment and control group participants.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The study authors noted that the programs’ impacts may be understated since participants in the control group received other transitional employment services during the study. Also, the study reports a less stringent statistical significance level, considering p-values of less than 0.10 to be significant, though it is standard practice to consider statistical significance if the p-value is less than 0.05. Only results that demonstrate a p-value of less than 0.05 are considered statistically significant in this summary.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to TransitionsSF, and not to other factors.