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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: Tessler, Betsy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Even in good economic times, many low-income, low-skilled adults in the United States have difficulty obtaining jobs that pay enough to support their families and advancing in the labor market. Individuals with no more than a high school education have seen their wages remain flat in real terms for decades, and their employment is often unsteady. Although training programs abound, many low-income individuals cannot afford them, do not complete them, or do not obtain a marketable credential. At the same time, many employers claim that they cannot easily find people with the right occupational skills to meet their needs. Because of this skills mismatch, some types of jobs go unfilled, even in a weak economy. There has been much debate in recent years about how national workforce policy should address these issues, but policymakers have few rigorous studies to inform their deliberations, and not enough evidence about what works best.

    This policy brief discusses a new skills-building model called “WorkAdvance” that is designed to help low-income...

    Even in good economic times, many low-income, low-skilled adults in the United States have difficulty obtaining jobs that pay enough to support their families and advancing in the labor market. Individuals with no more than a high school education have seen their wages remain flat in real terms for decades, and their employment is often unsteady. Although training programs abound, many low-income individuals cannot afford them, do not complete them, or do not obtain a marketable credential. At the same time, many employers claim that they cannot easily find people with the right occupational skills to meet their needs. Because of this skills mismatch, some types of jobs go unfilled, even in a weak economy. There has been much debate in recent years about how national workforce policy should address these issues, but policymakers have few rigorous studies to inform their deliberations, and not enough evidence about what works best.

    This policy brief discusses a new skills-building model called “WorkAdvance” that is designed to help low-income adults prepare for, enter, and succeed in quality jobs, in high-demand fields with opportunities for career growth. Depending on the location, these sectors of the labor market currently include, for example, information technology (IT), transportation, manufacturing, health care, and environmental remediation. The WorkAdvance model incorporates strategies often found in sector-based employment programs that have operated for years. It combines these strategies with job coaching after participants are placed into jobs, building on approaches that showed promise in earlier “postemployment” interventions.

    The New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), a unit of the Mayor’s Office, and MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, developed the WorkAdvance model, and MDRC is evaluating it using a randomized control trial. Launched as a research demonstration project under the federal Social Innovation Fund, WorkAdvance is being operated by four providers in four locations: New York City; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio. This brief discusses the origins of the WorkAdvance model, its major features, how it is being evaluated, and some early observations of how the providers are operating the program. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Criden, Madelaine
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2008

    Access to transportation by low-income individuals and families has become limited as the majority of low-income households reside in rural areas and central cities, while basic amenities are increasingly located in the suburbs. With new jobs emerging further and further away from central cities, many low-income workers often have difficulty accessing jobs, training and other services such as childcare because of inadequate transportation. In addition, many minimum wage jobs require working evening or weekend hours, but traditional transportation systems often do not serve their routes during these times. Access to affordable transportation for low-income workers, elderly rural residents, and children makes the trip to work, school, and medical appointments possible. It fosters self-sustainability, promotes independence, and permits spending on other household essentials. Given these benefits, this issue brief will demonstrate that rural public transportation is indispensable. (author abstract)

    Access to transportation by low-income individuals and families has become limited as the majority of low-income households reside in rural areas and central cities, while basic amenities are increasingly located in the suburbs. With new jobs emerging further and further away from central cities, many low-income workers often have difficulty accessing jobs, training and other services such as childcare because of inadequate transportation. In addition, many minimum wage jobs require working evening or weekend hours, but traditional transportation systems often do not serve their routes during these times. Access to affordable transportation for low-income workers, elderly rural residents, and children makes the trip to work, school, and medical appointments possible. It fosters self-sustainability, promotes independence, and permits spending on other household essentials. Given these benefits, this issue brief will demonstrate that rural public transportation is indispensable. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brocksen, Sally M.
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2006

    This project employed a descriptive case study methodology guided by rational choice theory to examine the financial feasibility of marriage for low income women. By modeling the income and expenses of eight different low income family types in six states (Arizona, California, New York, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin) this study illustrates the financial situation of various low income families. The family types under investigation include: a single parent family, a family receiving TANF, cohabiting couple with two wage earners, cohabiting couple with one wage earner, a married family with two wage earners, a married couple with one wage earner, a unmarried couple with an infant (unmarried fragile family), and a married couple with an infant (married fragile family). The income of each family type was calculated at two different wage levels (minimum and low wage for each state under investigation). Income included the welfare benefits and subsidies each of the family's is likely to receive (including child care subsidies and tax credits). The expenses of each family were...

    This project employed a descriptive case study methodology guided by rational choice theory to examine the financial feasibility of marriage for low income women. By modeling the income and expenses of eight different low income family types in six states (Arizona, California, New York, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin) this study illustrates the financial situation of various low income families. The family types under investigation include: a single parent family, a family receiving TANF, cohabiting couple with two wage earners, cohabiting couple with one wage earner, a married family with two wage earners, a married couple with one wage earner, a unmarried couple with an infant (unmarried fragile family), and a married couple with an infant (married fragile family). The income of each family type was calculated at two different wage levels (minimum and low wage for each state under investigation). Income included the welfare benefits and subsidies each of the family's is likely to receive (including child care subsidies and tax credits). The expenses of each family were calculated based on the size of the family and the cost of expenses such as housing and food expenditures. This study found that of the models presented here married families are not always financially better off when compared to single parent and cohabiting families. These findings demonstrate that if policy makers wish to support marriage among low income families they should first make marriage financially feasible for unmarried couples (particularly cohabiting couples) and create greater economic stability for couples that are already married. By providing consistent work supports (e.g. child care and health insurance), expanding programs that help low income families (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit), creating poverty measures that accurately reflect the real situation of low income families, and increasing the wages of low income workers, policy makers will create an environment where it is financially feasible for low income couples to marry and remain married. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gibbs, Deborah; Kasten, Jennifer; Bir, Anupa; Hoover, Sonja; Duncan, Dean; Mitchell, Janet
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    Since the establishment of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, much attention has been given to reductions in the number of welfare cases. Welfare cases declined nationally by 52 percent between 1996 and 2001; however, child-only cases declined by much less. Thus, while the number of child-only cases has fluctuated over time, their proportionate share of the TANF caseload has increased. Children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers occupy uncertain territory between the TANF and the child welfare service systems. Since these children are exempt from work requirements and not expected to move to self-sufficiency prior to adulthood, they are not well aligned with the TANF agency’s expectations and service offerings. Because they have not been identified as having experienced maltreatment, they are outside the child welfare system’s protective mandate, although they may be in need of supportive services. (author abstract)

    Since the establishment of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, much attention has been given to reductions in the number of welfare cases. Welfare cases declined nationally by 52 percent between 1996 and 2001; however, child-only cases declined by much less. Thus, while the number of child-only cases has fluctuated over time, their proportionate share of the TANF caseload has increased. Children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers occupy uncertain territory between the TANF and the child welfare service systems. Since these children are exempt from work requirements and not expected to move to self-sufficiency prior to adulthood, they are not well aligned with the TANF agency’s expectations and service offerings. Because they have not been identified as having experienced maltreatment, they are outside the child welfare system’s protective mandate, although they may be in need of supportive services. (author abstract)

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