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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Pergamit, Mike ; Cunningham, Mary K.; Burt, Martha R.; Lee, Pamela ; Howell, Brent ; Dumlao Bertumen, Kassie
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Homelessness among unaccompanied youth is a hidden problem: the number of young people who experience homelessness each year is largely unknown. To improve the national response to youth homelessness, policymakers need better data on the magnitude of the problem. Youth Count! is a Federal interagency initiative that aims to improve counts of unaccompanied homeless youth. Nine communities participated in the initiative by expanding their annual homeless point-in-time efforts to increase coverage of homeless youth. Urban Institute conducted a process study of the initiative to identify promising practices that could be adapted and taken to scale to produce credible and useful data nationwide. (Author abstract)

    Homelessness among unaccompanied youth is a hidden problem: the number of young people who experience homelessness each year is largely unknown. To improve the national response to youth homelessness, policymakers need better data on the magnitude of the problem. Youth Count! is a Federal interagency initiative that aims to improve counts of unaccompanied homeless youth. Nine communities participated in the initiative by expanding their annual homeless point-in-time efforts to increase coverage of homeless youth. Urban Institute conducted a process study of the initiative to identify promising practices that could be adapted and taken to scale to produce credible and useful data nationwide. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hamilton, Gayle; Scrivener, Susan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. The Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project was launched in 1999 to identify and determine the effectiveness of different program strategies designed to promote employment stability and earnings growth among current or former welfare recipients and other low-income individuals. The study was conceived and funded by the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; supplemental support was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the evaluation was conducted by MDRC.

    Using random assignment research designs, ERA tested 16 different program models in eight states and estimated effects over a three-to four-year follow-up period. The focus of this synthesis is primarily on the 12 programs that targeted more employable groups, as opposed to “harder-to employ” groups, such as individuals with known disabilities. Three...

    Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. The Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project was launched in 1999 to identify and determine the effectiveness of different program strategies designed to promote employment stability and earnings growth among current or former welfare recipients and other low-income individuals. The study was conceived and funded by the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; supplemental support was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the evaluation was conducted by MDRC.

    Using random assignment research designs, ERA tested 16 different program models in eight states and estimated effects over a three-to four-year follow-up period. The focus of this synthesis is primarily on the 12 programs that targeted more employable groups, as opposed to “harder-to employ” groups, such as individuals with known disabilities. Three of these 12 programs produced consistent increases in individuals’ employment retention and advancement, and the others did not. The project points to some strategies that succeeded in improving retention and earnings among low-income single parents and provides some lessons. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hendra, Richard; Dillman, Keri-Nicole; Hamilton, Gayle; Lundquist, Erika; Martinson, Karin; Wavelet, Melissa; Hill, Aaron; Williams, Sonya
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    This report summarizes the final impact results for the national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project. This project tested, using a random assignment design, the effectiveness of numerous programs intended to promote steady work and career advancement. All the programs targeted current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers, most of whom were single mothers. Given that earlier retention and advancement initiatives studied for these groups were largely not effective, ERA sought to examine a variety of programs that states and localities had developed for different populations, to determine whether effective strategies could be identified. In short, nine of the twelve programs examined in this report do not appear to be effective, but three programs increased employment levels, employment stability, and/or earnings, relative to control group levels, after three to four years of follow-up.

    Key Findings:

     - Out of the twelve programs included in the report, three ERA programs produced positive economic impacts; nine did not. All three...

    This report summarizes the final impact results for the national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project. This project tested, using a random assignment design, the effectiveness of numerous programs intended to promote steady work and career advancement. All the programs targeted current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers, most of whom were single mothers. Given that earlier retention and advancement initiatives studied for these groups were largely not effective, ERA sought to examine a variety of programs that states and localities had developed for different populations, to determine whether effective strategies could be identified. In short, nine of the twelve programs examined in this report do not appear to be effective, but three programs increased employment levels, employment stability, and/or earnings, relative to control group levels, after three to four years of follow-up.

    Key Findings:

     - Out of the twelve programs included in the report, three ERA programs produced positive economic impacts; nine did not. All three programs increased employment retention and advancement. Increases in employment retention and earnings were largest and most consistent over time in the Texas ERA program in Corpus Christi (one of three sites that operated this program); the Chicago ERA program; and the Riverside County, California, Post-Assistance Self-Sufficiency (PASS) ERA program. These programs increased annual earnings by between 7 percent and 15 percent relative to control group levels. Each of them served a different target group, which suggests that employment retention and advancement programs can work for a range of populations. However, three-fourths of the ERA programs included in this report did not produce gains in targeted outcomes beyond what control group members were able to attain on their own with the existing services and supports available in the ERA sites.

     - Increases in participation beyond control group levels were not consistent or large, which may have made it difficult for the programs to achieve impacts on employment retention and advancement. Engaging individuals in employment and retention services at levels above what they would have done in the absence of the programs was a consistent challenge. In addition, staff had to spend a lot of time and resources on placing unemployed individuals back into jobs, which made it difficult for them to focus on helping those who were already working to keep their jobs or move up.

    Before the ERA project began, there was not much evidence about the types of programs that could improve employment retention and advancement outcomes for current or former welfare recipients. The ERA evaluation provides valuable insights about the nature of retention and advancement problems and it underscores a number of key implementation challenges that a program would have to address. In addition, it reveals shortcomings in a range of common approaches now in use, while identifying three distinct approaches that seem promising and worthy of further exploration. (author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Hamilton, Gayle; Karin, Martinson; Wavelet, Melissa
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    This 12-page practitioner brief focuses on one aspect of the ERA programs — that is, their strategies to reemploy the many program participants who quickly lost jobs. Limited rigorous evidence is available on reemployment strategies. Moreover, the ERA evaluation was not designed to test the effectiveness of the specific strategies discussed in this document. However, the experiences — successful or not — across the ERA programs can provide important lessons for developing or operating employment programs for current and former welfare recipients. The reemployment services that were offered to newly unemployed individuals are similar to job placement services in programs that target unemployed populations generally, but there are differences, particularly in using recent job loss as a learning tool in finding the next job.

    While preventing job loss can be an appropriate goal for retention and advancement programs, the ERA study illustrates how challenging it is to keep individuals in a particular job. Programs might consider redefining “retention” as sustained employment across jobs rather than as sustained employment in any one job. The focus in this brief is on how to address job loss once it has happened: structuring job search and job placement services for those who have recently lost their jobs, with the goal of reducing the length of unemployment, improving the quality of the new job over the previous one, and achieving greater employment stability over time. The lessons address three overarching questions:

    How can programs learn about participants’ job losses quickly?

    Which strategies might contribute to faster reemployment?

    How can managers organize staff and resources to address job loss?  (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Miller, Cynthia; Deitch, Victoria; Hill, Aaron
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    Between 2000 and 2003, the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project identified and implemented a diverse set of innovative models designed to promote employment stability and wage or earnings progression among low-income individuals, mostly current or former welfare recipients. The project’s goal was to determine which strategies could help low-wage workers stay employed and advance over time –– and which strategies seem not to work.

    Over a dozen different ERA program models have now been evaluated using experimental, random assignment research designs, and three of the programs increased single parents’ employment and earnings. This report augments the ERA project’s experimental findings by examining the work, education, and training experiences of single parents targeted by the studied programs. Although the analysis is descriptive only and cannot be used to identify the exact causes of advancement, examining the characteristics of single parents who advance and the pathways by which they do so can inform the design of the next generation of retention and...

    Between 2000 and 2003, the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project identified and implemented a diverse set of innovative models designed to promote employment stability and wage or earnings progression among low-income individuals, mostly current or former welfare recipients. The project’s goal was to determine which strategies could help low-wage workers stay employed and advance over time –– and which strategies seem not to work.

    Over a dozen different ERA program models have now been evaluated using experimental, random assignment research designs, and three of the programs increased single parents’ employment and earnings. This report augments the ERA project’s experimental findings by examining the work, education, and training experiences of single parents targeted by the studied programs. Although the analysis is descriptive only and cannot be used to identify the exact causes of advancement, examining the characteristics of single parents who advance and the pathways by which they do so can inform the design of the next generation of retention and advancement programs. (author abstract)

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