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What strategies work for the hard-to-employ? Final results of the Hard-to-Employ demonstration and evaluation project and selected sites from the Employment Retention and Advancement project. [NYC PRIDE] (Butler et al 2012)

Citation

Butler, D., Alson, J., Bloom, D., Deitch, V., Hill, A., Hsueh, J., Jacobs, E., Kim, S., McRoberts, R., & Redcross, C. (2012). What strategies work for the hard-to-employ? Final results of the Hard-to-Employ demonstration and evaluation project and selected sites from the Employment Retention and Advancement project. (OPRE Report 2012-08). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [NYC PRIDE]

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Personal Roads to Individual Development and Employment (PRIDE) program on employment, earnings, and public assistance receipt.
  • The study was a randomized controlled trial. The authors estimated the impact of PRIDE by comparing the outcomes of the treatment and control groups four years after random assignment using data from public assistance records and Unemployment Insurance wage records.
  • The study found that those assigned to the PRIDE group were more likely to be employed and received less in cash assistance in the four years following random assignment than those in the control group.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the study had a shift in the probability of assignment and did not sufficiently demonstrate that the treatment and control groups were similar. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to PRIDE; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Personal Roads to Individual Development and Employment (PRIDE) Program

Features of the Intervention

The PRIDE program was designed to move New York City public assistance clients with physical and mental health challenges into employment. These clients did not have severe-enough limitations to be eligible for federal disability benefits, but they did have significant barriers to employment. The PRIDE program screened for potentially eligible clients, conducted an in-depth assessment of their needs, and finally assigned clients to work placements. There were two types of work placements. The vocational rehabilitation participants were required to engage in unpaid work placements specifically designed to accommodate health conditions. The work-based education participants engaged in the same type of work placements as the vocational rehabilitation group, but were also required to attend education and training programs. All PRIDE participants received job-search and placement assistance, as well as employment retention services.

Features of the Study

The authors conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of PRIDE on employment, earnings and receipt of public assistance. More than 2,600 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Safety Net benefit recipients were randomly assigned either to PRIDE or to services as usual. The assignment mechanism was a lottery-like process that met the standard for randomization based on the more detailed information available in the interim report (Bloom, Miller, and Azurdia, 2007). Study participants were mostly Hispanic or black and typically lived in unsubsidized housing. At the time of assignment, only a small portion of the sample had worked recently and their average age was 39.

The authors used data collected from public assistance records for New York City and Unemployment Insurance wage records for New York State. The authors compared the adjusted outcome data of the treatment group with the adjusted outcome data of the control group.

Findings

  • 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.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The probability of assignment to treatment changed from 66 percent to 50 percent in August 2002 and remained at 50 percent through the end of the random assignment period in December 2002. CLEAR was unable to verify with the authors whether their analysis accounted for this shift. In addition, the authors did not report what variables they included in their analysis to account for differences between the treatment and control groups.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the study had a shift in the probability of assignment and did not sufficiently demonstrate that the treatment and control groups were similar. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the PRIDE program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Additional Sources

Bloom, D., Miller, C., and Azurdia, G. (2007). The Employment Retention and Advancement Project: Results from the Personal Roads to Individual Development and Employment (PRIDE) program in New York City. New York: MDRC.

Reviewed by CLEAR

December 2016

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