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The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Early results from four sites. (Bloom et al. 2005)

Citation

Bloom, D., Hendra, R., Martinson, K., & Scrivener, S. (2005). The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Early results from four sites. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [Riverside, CA – Work Plus versus Training Focused]

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the effectiveness of a Riverside, California, program to increase the earnings of welfare recipients after one year. The Riverside Phase 2 site was one of two in Riverside that participated in the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project.
  • The authors randomly assigned eligible single-parent participants in Riverside’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to one of two treatment groups (Work Plus and Training Focused) that received differing ERA services or to a control group that received standard TANF services. This review focuses on the comparison between the Work Plus program and the Training Focused program. The authors analyzed data from Unemployment Insurance (UI), TANF, and Food Stamps administrative records.
  • The study did not find any statistically significant effects of the Work Plus program on employment, earnings, and benefits receipt compared with the Training Focused program.
  • 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 would be confident that any estimated effects are attributable to the Riverside Work Plus program and not to other factors. However, the study did not find any statistically significant effects.

Intervention Examined

The Employment Retention and Advancement Project—Work Plus and Training Focused (Phase 2), Riverside

Features of the Intervention

The ERA project was introduced in 1999 as a nationwide exploration of factors that help welfare recipients not only find employment but retain their positions and advance in their careers. Riverside included 3 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. (The authors reported results for a third site in Riverside separately, so CLEAR also reviewed the results for that site separately.)

TANF recipients assigned to the Riverside Work Plus and the Training Focused programs could receive intensive case management and enhanced support services, all aimed at encouraging employment stability. In the Work Plus program, staff encouraged clients to attend education and training activities after working at least 20 hours per week. Participation in education and training activities was premised on the belief that working reinforces the value of education and training and that working while in school or in training increases the likelihood of program completion and the use of newly acquired skills. In the Training Focused program, clients had to participate in work and training activities for 32 hours per week. Staff encouraged clients to attend education and training (including vocational training) activities, and clients could reduce or eliminate their work hours if they participated in education and training.

Both programs also provided clients with support services (for example, child care, transportation, and ancillary payments to participate in program activities); social services (for example, mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse); referrals to public assistance programs (for example, TANF, Food Stamps, and Medi-Cal); and job search services.

Features of the Study

Eligible single parents in Riverside, CA were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a treatment group that was offered Work Plus services, a second treatment group that was offered the Training Focused program, or a comparison group (Work Focused). The authors estimated the effect of the Work Plus program compared with the Training Focused program on employment, earnings, and benefits receipt 12 months after random assignment using UI, TANF, and Food Stamps administrative records. This report focused on the sample of single parents randomly assigned from January 2001 to September 2002.

Findings

  • The study did not find any statistically significant effects of the Work Plus program on employment, earnings, and benefits receipt compared with the Training Focused program.

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 would be confident that any estimated effects are attributable to the Riverside Work Plus program and not to other factors. However, the study did not find any statistically significant effects.

Reviewed by CLEAR

September 2016

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