Martinez, J., Azurdia, G., Bloom, D., and Miller, C. (2009). The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Results from the Substance Abuse Case Management program in New York City. New York: MDRC.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the New York City Substance Abuse Case Management (SACM) program on employment, earnings, and public assistance receipt. The SACM program is part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project.
- The authors assigned 8,831 low-income adults with substance abuse issues to either the SACM program or existing services. The authors analyzed data from Unemployment Insurance (UI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Food Stamps administrative records.
- This review was conducted in collaboration with the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review (ESER). Because ESER did not report findings for studies that received a low causal evidence rating, the CLEAR profile does not report the findings either.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because assignment to the program was not random, the treatment and control groups differed at baseline, and the authors did not appropriately account for differences in pre-intervention measures. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the SACM program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Project, New York City
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. New York was one 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 New York City SACM program debuted in the Bronx in 2001 and remained in effect through 2008, providing intensive substance abuse treatment and employment-related services to low-income public assistance recipients whose responses on a screening questionnaire indicated possible substance abuse.
First, clinically oriented program staff such as social workers conducted a two- to three-hour substance abuse assessment to determine the type of substance abuse treatment needed and the client’s readiness to participate in employment-related services. Case managers referred clients to appropriate substance abuse treatment and other services that addressed clients’ barriers to employment. Participation in the in-depth assessment and substance abuse treatment was mandatory; failure to attend could result in benefit cancellation. When clients no longer required intensive treatment, case managers referred them to appropriate employment services and monitored their progress. Outreach continued for 90 days after the client became employed.
Features of the Study
From June 2003 to June 2005, the authors assigned 8,831 eligible people to either the SACM program or existing services. They collected baseline data from the New York Welfare Management System; employment and public assistance data came from New York State UI wage files and city TANF and Food Stamp eligibility and payment records. The authors estimated compared the outcomes of treatment and control group members 18 months after random assignment, accounting for pre-random assignment characteristics.
This review was conducted in collaboration with ESER. Because ESER did not report findings for studies that received a low causal evidence rating, the CLEAR profile does not report the findings either.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because assignment to the program was not random and the authors did not appropriately account for differences in pre-intervention measures. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the SACM program; other factors are likely to have contributed.