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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: 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: Williams, Sonya; Freedman, Stephen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    The national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project tested the effectiveness of over a dozen innovative programs in eight states that were intended to promote steady work and earnings growth among current and former welfare recipients — that is, recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — and other low-wage workers. The programs offered services primarily to single parents, but nine programs also offered services to adult members of two-parent families.

    This report describes the background characteristics, employment and earnings patterns, and patterns of TANF and food stamp receipt for adult members of two-parent families in the ERA sample. Not much is known about the low-income two-parent population’s need for employment retention and advancement services or about their responses to offered services. This population has particular policy relevance in that two-parent TANF cases include more family members and receive higher average monthly grants than do single-parent recipients. These families therefore require higher income (from...

    The national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project tested the effectiveness of over a dozen innovative programs in eight states that were intended to promote steady work and earnings growth among current and former welfare recipients — that is, recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — and other low-wage workers. The programs offered services primarily to single parents, but nine programs also offered services to adult members of two-parent families.

    This report describes the background characteristics, employment and earnings patterns, and patterns of TANF and food stamp receipt for adult members of two-parent families in the ERA sample. Not much is known about the low-income two-parent population’s need for employment retention and advancement services or about their responses to offered services. This population has particular policy relevance in that two-parent TANF cases include more family members and receive higher average monthly grants than do single-parent recipients. These families therefore require higher income (from employment of one or both parents) to achieve self-sufficiency. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Khadduri, Jill; Leopold, Josh; Sokol, Brian; Spellman, Brooke
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    This study measures costs associated with first-time homeless families and individuals incurred by homeless and mainstream service delivery systems in six study communities. Unaccompanied individuals were studied in Des Moines, Iowa; Houston, Texas; and Jacksonville, Florida. Families were studied in Houston, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Upstate South Carolina; and Washington, DC.

    Past research has primarily documented costs associated with homelessness for individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness or severe mental illness. Newer work has been published on the costs incurred within the homeless system for families experiencing first-time homelessness. This study provides additional findings that help to improve our understanding of homelessness and its associated costs. It presents ideas about opportunities for cost savings, and it advances an approach for measuring costs that, coupled with other evaluation methods, can help communities understand the cost-effectiveness of different homelessness interventions. (author abstract) 

    This study measures costs associated with first-time homeless families and individuals incurred by homeless and mainstream service delivery systems in six study communities. Unaccompanied individuals were studied in Des Moines, Iowa; Houston, Texas; and Jacksonville, Florida. Families were studied in Houston, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Upstate South Carolina; and Washington, DC.

    Past research has primarily documented costs associated with homelessness for individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness or severe mental illness. Newer work has been published on the costs incurred within the homeless system for families experiencing first-time homelessness. This study provides additional findings that help to improve our understanding of homelessness and its associated costs. It presents ideas about opportunities for cost savings, and it advances an approach for measuring costs that, coupled with other evaluation methods, can help communities understand the cost-effectiveness of different homelessness interventions. (author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Bloom, Dan ; Hendra, Richard ; Martinson, Karin ; Scrivener, Susan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    Millions of welfare recipients have entered the labor force in the past decade, but surveys show that many remain in unstable, low-paying jobs that offer few opportunities for advancement. This report presents early evidence on the effectiveness of four diverse programs designed to help current or former welfare recipients work more steadily and increase their earnings. The programs are part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project, which is testing 15 such programs nationwide. The ERA project is being conducted by MDRC under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

    Each ERA program is being evaluated using a random assignment research design whereby individuals are assigned, through a lottery-like process, to a program group that is eligible for ERA services or to a control group that is not. (author abstract)

    Millions of welfare recipients have entered the labor force in the past decade, but surveys show that many remain in unstable, low-paying jobs that offer few opportunities for advancement. This report presents early evidence on the effectiveness of four diverse programs designed to help current or former welfare recipients work more steadily and increase their earnings. The programs are part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project, which is testing 15 such programs nationwide. The ERA project is being conducted by MDRC under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

    Each ERA program is being evaluated using a random assignment research design whereby individuals are assigned, through a lottery-like process, to a program group that is eligible for ERA services or to a control group that is not. (author abstract)

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