Miller, C., Tessler, B., & Van Dok, M. (2009). Strategies to help low-wage workers advance: Implementation and early impacts of the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) demonstration. New York City: MDRC. [Dayton]
- The study’s objective was to examine the early impacts of participation in the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) demonstration on employment, earnings, education and training, and receipt of public benefits outcomes.
- The authors randomly assigned eligible individuals to either a treatment group that received WASC services or to a control group that received existing job placement services focused on employment. The authors analyzed data from Unemployment Insurance records, Ohio state administrative records, and a survey administered 12 months after random assignment.
- In the Dayton site’s first year, the study found that WASC increased participants’ receipt of Food Stamps by about 10 percent. The study also found that WASC participants were more likely to obtain a license or training certificate than control group members (18.1 percent compared with 11.3 percent, respectively).
- 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 WASC and not to other factors.
The Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) Demonstration
Features of the Intervention
The Work Advancement and Support Center Demonstration (WASC) program delivered integrated, intensive retention and advancement services to incumbent workers. It provided information about and simplified access to financial work supports such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care subsidies. Services were offered at a One-Stop Career Centers, where workforce development and welfare staff worked together in the same unit as a team. Retention and advancement services included career coaching and access to training and education to stabilize individuals' employment and help them find better-paying jobs. The WASC model in Dayton focused on providing access to and funding for vocational training and financial incentives for maintaining employment and for participating in training
Features of the Study
From fall 2005 to March 2007, 1,184 eligible individuals were randomly assigned to either a treatment group, which received WASC services, or to a control group, which received existing employment services with a focus on job placement instead of advancement. The study recruited low-wage workers and reemployed dislocated workers who earned less than $10 an hour, had a household income below 130 percent of the federal poverty level, and had a previously limited connection to the welfare system. The authors compared employment, earnings, and receipt of benefits outcomes of treatment and control group members one year after random assignment using Unemployment Insurance records, Ohio state administrative records, and a survey.
WASC was implemented in three locations (Dayton, Ohio; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and San Diego, California), and this report examined results for Dayton and San Diego. (This review focuses on Dayton, and a separate review on this site focuses on San Diego.)
- The study found that WASC increased participants’ receipt of Food Stamps by about 10 percent, from 53.9 percent in the comparison group to 59.4 percent in the WASC group.
- Among WASC participants, 18.1 percent obtained a license or training certificate, compared with 11.3 percent of control group members.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Although this report presented short-term findings after one year, the intervention was intended to have both long- and short-term impacts. Other studies examined long-term outcomes.
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 WASC and not to other factors.