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The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Results from two education and training models for employed welfare recipients in Riverside, California. (Navarro et al 2007)

Citation

Navarro, D., Freedman, S., & Hamilton, G. (2007). The Employment Retention and Advancement project: Results from two education and training models for employed welfare recipients in Riverside, California. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of post-employment job supports and intensive case management on welfare recipients’ employment, earnings, and benefit receipt outcomes after two years. The Riverside Phase 2 site was one of two in Riverside, California, that participated in the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project.
  • The authors randomly assigned 2,907 employed single-parent participants in Riverside’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to one of two treatment groups that received differing ERA services or to a control group that received standard TANF services. 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 the households of participants in the Work Plus program were 10.5 percentage points less likely to receive TANF benefits relative to those in the control group 12 months after random assignment. The study found no statistically significant effects associated with the Training Focused program.
  • 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 Riverside Work Plus program and not to other factors. It also means that we would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to Riverside Training Focused program and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects of the Training Focused program.

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 ERA interventions or 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. This profile summarizes 2 of those Riverside interventions. (The authors reported results for a third intervention in Riverside separately, so CLEAR also reviewed the results separately.)

TANF recipients assigned to the Riverside Work Plus and the Training Focused programs could receive intensive case management and enhanced support services, both aimed at encouraging employment stability. Work Plus clients were encouraged to attend education and training (including vocational training) activities after working at least 20 hours per week. The reasoning behind this was that working reinforced the value of education and training and that working while in school or training would increase the likelihood of program completion and the use of newly attained skills. Training Focused clients were encouraged to attend education and training activities and they could (with case manager approval) decrease or eliminate their work hours as long as they participated in education and training activities. Clients in both programs also received supportive services (such as child care, transportation, and payments to participate in program activities); social services (such as mental health, domestic violence, and substance abuse services); public assistance programs; and job-search services.

Features of the Study

From January 2001 to October 2003, 2,907 employed, single-parent TANF recipients were assigned to one of the two programs or a control group that could participate in the Work Focused program. Clients in this condition were eligible to receive TANF benefits, Food Stamps, child care and transportation assistance, and medical coverage. They also received limited and reactive case management.

The authors estimated employment and earnings impacts by comparing regression-adjusted UI wage records of treatment and control group members over the first two years following random assignment. The authors also calculated program impacts for benefit receipt measures, including whether participants received TANF or Food Stamps, through two years after random assignment using TANF and Food Stamps administrative records. Finally, the authors estimated additional employment, earnings, and public assistance outcomes from a survey administered 12 months after random assignment.

Findings

  • The study found that participants in the Work Plus program were 10.5 percentage points less likely to receive TANF benefits 12 months after random assignment, relative to those in the control group. This result was statistically significant.
  • The study found no statistically significant effects on employment or earnings associated with the Work Plus program.
  • The study found no statistically significant effects associated with the Training Focused program.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to employment, earnings, and benefit 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 perform 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 Riverside Work Plus program and not to other factors. It also means that we would be confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to Riverside Training Focused program and not to other factors. However, the study did not find statistically significant effects of the Training Focused program.

Reviewed by CLEAR

November 2016

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