Fein, D., Beecroft, E., Long, D., & Catalfamo, A. (2000). College as a job advancement strategy: An early report of the New Visions Self-Sufficiency and Lifelong Learning Project. Bethesda, MD: Abt Associates Inc.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of a pilot for Riverside Community College’s New Visions Self-Sufficiency and Lifelong Learning Project on welfare recipients’ welfare receipt.
- The study was based on a randomized controlled trial and estimated the effect of offering welfare recipients the New Visions program compared with encouraging recipients to participate in other employment services. The authors used California Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) records to compare average outcomes among those offered access to the program against the average outcomes of those excluded, after adjusting for differences in demographic and pre-intervention characteristics between the groups.
- The authors did not find any statistically significant effect of the New Visions program on the likelihood of receiving TANF or the amount of TANF benefits received.
- 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 the New Visions Project, and not to other factors.
The New Visions Self-Sufficiency and Lifelong Learning Project
Features of the Intervention
New Visions was a special college program for welfare recipients offered at RCC in Riverside, California. Its goals were to prepare welfare recipients for community college-based occupational training programs, foster life-long learning, and promote job advancement.
The program consisted of a one-week orientation session followed by 24 weeks of academic instruction geared to preparation for college and/or occupational training; it included courses in mathematics, English, reading, and office-related computer software. In addition, during the 24 weeks, participants took a guidance class designed to prepare them with critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, job search, interpersonal relationship, and study skills. After the 24-week program, participants were placed in occupational training, but the training was organized into modules of courses targeted at entry-level jobs in chosen occupations, with breaks in between so that participants could more readily combine training sessions with work and family demands.
Features of the Study
This study was based on a pilot study for a randomized controlled experiment in which RCC and the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services randomly assigned 1,043 volunteers to a treatment group that was allowed to participate in New Visions or to a control group that was not. Control group members were encouraged to take part in other vocational programs offered through the county’s welfare program, including courses at the same community college. The members of the sample were all TANF clients who were parents.
This report presented a preliminary impact analysis based on 143 volunteers (70 treatment and 73 control) recruited in 1998 and 1999 for a pilot study. The authors estimated the impact of the program by comparing average outcomes among those offered access to the program against the average outcomes of those excluded, after adjusting for chance differences between the groups.
- The study did not find any statistically significant effect of the New Visions program on the likelihood of being on welfare or the value of welfare benefits received.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors noted that these findings should be regarded as preliminary because the program was not yet fully developed at this pilot stage.
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 the New Visions Project, and not to other factors.