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  • Individual Author: Freedman, Stephen; Knab, Jean T.; Gennetian, Lisa A.; Navarro, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    This document summarizes the two-year findings from a large-scale, rigorous evaluation of Jobs-First GAIN, a strongly employment-focused mandatory welfare-to-work program. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) operated Jobs-First GAIN from January 1995 through March 1998. The evaluation, conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC), has been jointly funded by DPSS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Ford Foundation. Los Angeles operates the largest county welfare program in the nation, serving more recipients than all states except New York and California. The size and diversity of Los Angeles County’s population mean that any success achieved by Jobs-First GAIN will have broad significance.

    In a report on the Jobs-First GAIN Evaluation after one year of follow-up (year 1), it was concluded that Jobs-First GAIN produced substantial increases in employment and earnings and reductions in welfare expenditures relative to what welfare recipients would have achieved had they not entered the program....

    This document summarizes the two-year findings from a large-scale, rigorous evaluation of Jobs-First GAIN, a strongly employment-focused mandatory welfare-to-work program. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) operated Jobs-First GAIN from January 1995 through March 1998. The evaluation, conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC), has been jointly funded by DPSS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Ford Foundation. Los Angeles operates the largest county welfare program in the nation, serving more recipients than all states except New York and California. The size and diversity of Los Angeles County’s population mean that any success achieved by Jobs-First GAIN will have broad significance.

    In a report on the Jobs-First GAIN Evaluation after one year of follow-up (year 1), it was concluded that Jobs-First GAIN produced substantial increases in employment and earnings and reductions in welfare expenditures relative to what welfare recipients would have achieved had they not entered the program. Furthermore, the program produced positive results for many different types of welfare recipients. The report summarized here examines whether Jobs-First GAIN sustained these effects through a second year of follow-up (year 2). It then assesses the program’s two-year effects on a wide range of additional outcomes, including (1) employment stability and wage growth, (2) income and self-sufficiency, (3) medical coverage, (4) child care use, (5) household structure, (6) food insecurity, and (7) children’s academic and behavioral adjustment and safety. The report also examines Jobs-First GAIN’s cost-effectiveness.

    Jobs-First GAIN anticipated the philosophy and goals of the federal Personal Respon­sibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the nation’s largest cash welfare program, with block grants to the states called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). (This type of cash assistance is referred to here as AFDC/TANF or welfare.) Jobs-First GAIN emphasized job search assistance and imparted a strong pro-work message in an effort to move thousands of welfare recipients quickly into jobs. Its message and emphasis place Jobs-First GAIN in the category of Work First programs, the approach strongly encouraged by PRWORA and followed by most current state and local welfare-to-work programs. Most features of Jobs-First GAIN continued under Los Angeles County’s TANF program, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), which replaced Jobs-First GAIN in April 1998.

    The similarities between Jobs-First GAIN and its successor, CalWORKs, make the findings of this evaluation especially useful to practitioners and researchers who need reliable information on the effects of TANF-era welfare-to-work initiatives in large urban settings. The differences between Jobs-First GAIN and CalWORKs are also important. Like many other TANF-era programs, CalWORKs modified the Jobs-First GAIN program model by adding time limits on welfare eligibility (although only for adult recipients), somewhat stronger financial incentives to work, extended transitional benefits, post-employment services aimed at increasing job retention and advancement, and special services for victims of domestic violence and people with mental health or substance abuse problems. The Jobs-First GAIN Evaluation therefore tests the effects of CalWORKs’ primary pre-employment strategy (and that of many other TANF-era programs), but without time limits and post-employment and special services and with smaller financial incentives to keep working. Jobs-First GAIN’s effects on employment, earnings, welfare dependency, and income will serve as a benchmark for gauging the effects of CalWORKs’ (and other TANF programs’) more comprehensive approach to promoting self-sufficiency.

    Jobs-First GAIN, which encouraged welfare recipients to start working as soon as possible, replaced Los Angeles GAIN, the county’s previous GAIN (Greater Avenues for Independence) program, which encouraged welfare recipients to return to school to improve their basic skills. Launched in 1988, Los Angeles GAIN assigned most of its enrollees, all of whom were long-term welfare recipients, to adult basic education (remedial English and math), General Educational Development (GED) test preparation, or English as a Second Language classes. Relatively few enroll­ees were assigned to job search activities. Evidence from several sources, including an evaluation of the program by MDRC, convinced DPSS’s top administrators that Los Angeles GAIN’s basic education approach, despite being costly, helped relatively few people find employment. The administrators resolved that adopting a Work First approach would benefit welfare recipients financially and save taxpayer dollars. The Jobs-First GAIN Evaluation tests this premise by comparing Jobs-First GAIN’s effects with those of the county’s earlier GAIN program. The findings from this comparison are important because administrators in many other localities made similar changes to their welfare-to-work programs during the 1990s.

    Central to the evaluation is an experimental design based on random assignment. From April 1 through September 11, 1996, nearly 21,000 single parents (AFDC-FGs, or Family Group cases) and members of two-parent households (AFDC-Us, or Unemployed Parent cases) who showed up at a Jobs-First GAIN office for their scheduled orientation were randomly assigned either to the experimental group or to the control group. Experimental group members had access to Jobs-First GAIN’s program services and exposure to its Work First message. They were also subject to the program’s mandatory participation requirements and could incur a sanction — a reduction in their welfare grant — for noncompliance. Control group members were precluded from receiving Jobs-First GAIN services until October 1998, the end of the follow-up period for the evaluation, but remained eligible to receive welfare and Food Stamps. Control group members could also seek out other services in the community and receive child care assistance from DPSS for employment-related programs in which they enrolled on their own initiative. Finally, both experimental and control group members were covered by California’s Work Pays rules for calculating welfare grants. Work Pays allowed most welfare recipients who found a job to continue receiving welfare benefits and to retain their eligibility for Medicaid. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Annie E. Casey Foundation
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2000

    This guide presents information on strategies for connecting low-income residents to jobs. The information is provided to assist Making Connections site teams and people in the neighborhoods in determining where they are in regard to economic development, where they want to go, how they might get there, and who can help them. The focus of this guide is on strategies for attaching people to the labor market, including people who are ready to work and those who face substantial challenges to employment. (author abstract)

    This guide presents information on strategies for connecting low-income residents to jobs. The information is provided to assist Making Connections site teams and people in the neighborhoods in determining where they are in regard to economic development, where they want to go, how they might get there, and who can help them. The focus of this guide is on strategies for attaching people to the labor market, including people who are ready to work and those who face substantial challenges to employment. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics
    Reference Type: Dataset
    Year: 2000

    Description: The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88) collects data on topics such as school, work, and home experiences; educational resources and support; the role in education of their parents and peers; neighborhood characteristics; educational and occupational aspirations; and other student perceptions. For the three in-school waves of data collection (when most were eighth-graders, sophomores, or seniors), achievement tests were also administered in reading, social studies, mathematics, and science.

    Population: Nationally representative sample of students who were in eighth grade in 1988. Sample of these respondents were resurveyed at four follow-ups in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 2000. Teachers, parents, and school administrators also surveyed to add further detail to data.

    Periodicity: Data collected and available for baseline and all follow-ups (1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, and 2000).

    (Information adapted from the publisher)

    For more information, please see the...

    Description: The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88) collects data on topics such as school, work, and home experiences; educational resources and support; the role in education of their parents and peers; neighborhood characteristics; educational and occupational aspirations; and other student perceptions. For the three in-school waves of data collection (when most were eighth-graders, sophomores, or seniors), achievement tests were also administered in reading, social studies, mathematics, and science.

    Population: Nationally representative sample of students who were in eighth grade in 1988. Sample of these respondents were resurveyed at four follow-ups in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 2000. Teachers, parents, and school administrators also surveyed to add further detail to data.

    Periodicity: Data collected and available for baseline and all follow-ups (1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, and 2000).

    (Information adapted from the publisher)

    For more information, please see the Compendium of Family-Self Sufficiency Databases.

  • Individual Author: Sherraden, Michael
    Reference Type: Report, Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2000

    In this chapter I summarize the emergence of asset building for the poor as a community development and policy innovation. The paper begins with a short statement on policy context, followed by an applied section that looks at policy and programs. Last is a research section, focusing on savings theory and asset building in applied research and what we are learning in early stages of investigation. This is a lot to cover in one chapter, but it would be misleading to present the policies and programs as if they stood apart from theory and inquiry. (author abstract)

    In this chapter I summarize the emergence of asset building for the poor as a community development and policy innovation. The paper begins with a short statement on policy context, followed by an applied section that looks at policy and programs. Last is a research section, focusing on savings theory and asset building in applied research and what we are learning in early stages of investigation. This is a lot to cover in one chapter, but it would be misleading to present the policies and programs as if they stood apart from theory and inquiry. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Cole, Patricia; Buel, Sarah M.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2000

    This paper looks at family violence and its impact upon the transition from welfare to work under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) established by the 1996 welfare reform. Recommendations are presented which encourages advocates and others to increase their involvement in welfare reform and other initiatives that target families living in extreme poverty. The paper addressed two primary issues. First, working within the TANF and welfare to work systems were discussed in order to identify and assist women in violent partnerships. And, second, helping low-income women gain employment and other necessary assistance so they are able to support themselves and escape the violent situation their poverty had perpetuated. Insights offered included: (1) women in extremely low-income households are much more likely to be victims of violence than women in higher-income households; (2) traditional mainstream approaches to helping battered women are often ineffective; and (3) it is impossible to separate women’s experiences with and responses to partner violence from...

    This paper looks at family violence and its impact upon the transition from welfare to work under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) established by the 1996 welfare reform. Recommendations are presented which encourages advocates and others to increase their involvement in welfare reform and other initiatives that target families living in extreme poverty. The paper addressed two primary issues. First, working within the TANF and welfare to work systems were discussed in order to identify and assist women in violent partnerships. And, second, helping low-income women gain employment and other necessary assistance so they are able to support themselves and escape the violent situation their poverty had perpetuated. Insights offered included: (1) women in extremely low-income households are much more likely to be victims of violence than women in higher-income households; (2) traditional mainstream approaches to helping battered women are often ineffective; and (3) it is impossible to separate women’s experiences with and responses to partner violence from the impact of poverty and other oppressions in their lives. The paper emphasized the Family Violence Option (FVO) allowing States to exempt TANF recipients from workforce participation if it would escalate domestic violence, impede escape from domestic violence, or result in sanctions against women as a result of domestic violence. Several insights were gained on how to reach and assist women in dealing with violent relationships that included: (1) services need to be located at or near TANF offices; (2) programs need to be race conscious, being both sensitive and responsive to different cultural experiences and values in order to achieve program participation; (3) basic survival needs, such as housing, food, clothing, or health care must be resolved before or as part of the work around family violence issues; and (4) assistance must be offered to increase their safety while in the abusive relationship. Several recommendations were offered as to how women in poverty who suffer from domestic violence should be treated that included: (1) providing pre- and post- employment education and training; (2) providing services necessary to gain and maintain living-wage employment; and (3) providing ongoing support in the areas of housing, child care, food stamps, and health care for those unable to get and keep jobs that have adequate wages and benefits. Welfare reform is seen as having brought attention to many battered women previously overlooked. Creating effective solutions is viewed as necessary to allow them to be both safe and financially secure. (author abstract)

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