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The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Findings for the Eugene and Medford, Oregon, models: Implementation and early impacts for two programs that sought to encourage advancement among low-income workers. [TAAG - Medford] (Molina et al. 2009)

Citation

Molina, F., van Dok, M., Hendra, R., Hamilton, G., and Cheng, W. (2009). The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Findings for the Eugene and Medford, Oregon, models: Implementation and early impacts for two programs that sought to encourage advancement among low-income workers. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [TAAG - Medford]

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to estimate the impact of post-employment job supports on former and current welfare recipients’ employment and benefits receipt outcomes after 1.5 years. The Medford site was one of four in Oregon that participated in the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project.
  • The authors randomly assigned 1,164 single parents to either a treatment group that received ERA services or a control group that could participate in other programs in the community. People in the study were current or recent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program participants or people enrolled in other benefit programs that required clients to participate in employment or training. The authors analyzed data from Unemployment Insurance (UI), TANF, and Food Stamps administrative records and a survey administered 12 months after random assignment.
  • The study found that participants assigned to the Medford ERA program earned, on average, $40 more per week in the first year after random assignment than those in the control group.
  • The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is high because it was based on a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Medford ERA program and not to other factors.

Intervention Examined

The Employment Retention and Advancement Project, Medford

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. Medford, Oregon, was one of 16 sites across the United States, including 4 in Oregon, to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement a program intended to improve welfare recipients’ employment outcomes.

Medford’s Transition, Advancement, and Growth (TAAG) program provided retention- and career-focused case management services to current or recent welfare clients or people enrolled in Food Stamps or child care programs that required clients to participate in employment or training as a condition of benefits receipt. The Medford Department of Human Services, the Job Council, the Employment Department, and Rogue Community College collaborated to deliver TAAG. Program teams included job coaches, job counselors, job developers, case managers, learning plan specialists, and an employment specialist, all supervised by a project manager. Services included job search assistance, counseling, assistance with supportive services and transitional benefits, and education and training referrals.

Features of the Study

From February 2002 to April 2004, evaluators randomly assigned 1,164 single parents to either a treatment group, which received ERA services, or a control group, which could participate in other programs typically offered in the community. Eligible individuals had formerly received TANF or were currently receiving the Oregon Food Stamp Employment and Training program and/or the Employment Related Day Care program. About 91 percent of participants were female, 90 percent were white non-Hispanic, and 78 percent had hourly wages of $7 or higher at baseline.

The authors estimated employment and earnings impacts by comparing UI wage records of treatment and control group members over the first 1.5 years after random assignment. The authors also calculated program impacts for benefit receipt measures, including whether participants received TANF or Food Stamps, through 1.5 years after random assignment using TANF and Food Stamps administrative records. Finally, the authors estimated impacts on self-reported employment and earnings using data from a survey administered 12 months following random assignment to a subsample of study participants.

Findings

  • The study found that those assigned to the Medford ERA program earned, on average, $40 more per week in the first year after random assignment than those in the control group. This difference was statistically significant at the 5 percent level.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Early in the study, the Medford program focused more on crisis management for clients and less on career advancement. This trend changed over time as staff spent more time on advancement services; however, many participants lost their jobs during the program, so job search assistance was a greater priority than anticipated. In addition, the program faced funding cuts that affected its staffing and operations.

The authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to employment, earnings, and benefits receipt. Performing multiple statistical tests on related outcomes makes it more likely that some impacts will be found statistically significant purely by chance and not because they reflect program effectiveness. The authors did not report that they performed statistical adjustments to account for the multiple tests, so the number of statistically significant findings in these domains is likely to be overstated.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is high because it was based on a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Medford ERA program and not to other factors.

Reviewed by CLEAR

October 2016

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