Miller, C., Tessler, B. L., & Van Dok, M. (2012). Strategies to help low-wage workers advance: Implementation and final impacts of the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) demonstration. New York: MDRC. [Dayton—Move Up]
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of participation in Dayton—Move Up, a Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC), on participants’ earnings, employment, educational attainment, and benefit receipt.
- This study was a randomized controlled trial and used administrative data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the National Student Clearinghouse to measure outcomes. The authors used a 12-month follow-up survey with a random subset of participants to measure receipt of work supports and job characteristics.
- The study found that the treatment group was 6.4 percentage points more likely to obtain a license or certificate than the control group and 6.2 percentage points more likely to have ever received Food Stamps one year after the program began.
- 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 Dayton—Move Up and not to other factors.
Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC), Dayton—Move Up
Features of the Intervention
The WASC program delivered integrated, intensive retention and advancement services and simplified access to financial work support for low-wage workers to help them increase their incomes. A One-Stop Career Center, where workforce development and welfare staff worked together in the same unit as a team, offered both types of services at one location. Advancement services included career coaching, skill development, and education to stabilize participants’ employment and help them find better-paying jobs. Key work supports included Food Stamps and health insurance for adults and children. The WASC model in Dayton, Ohio, provided access to and funding for vocational training as well as financial incentives to maintain employment and to participate in training. Eligible study participants earned less than $10 per hour, had a household income below 130 percent of the federal poverty level, and had a limited previous connection to the welfare system.
Features of the Study
The authors used a lottery-like process to randomly assign participants to the WASC group or to a control group. The control group received existing employment services with a focus on job placement instead of advancement for low-wage workers. The research sample size was 705; 351 people were in the WASC group and 354 people were in the control group. The authors used a statistical model to compare the outcomes of treatment and control group members.
WASC was implemented in three locations (Dayton, Ohio; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and San Diego, California), and this review examines results for Dayton. Other reviews on this site focus on the other locations.
- The study found that the treatment group was 6.4 percentage points more likely than the control group to obtain a license or certificate (18.0 percent relative to 11.6 percent).
- The treatment group was 6.2 percentage points more likely than the comparison group to have ever received Food Stamps one year after the program began than the control group (60.4 percent relative to 54.2 percent).
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to short-term benefit receipt and educational attainment. 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 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 Dayton—Move Up and not to other factors.