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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: Martinson, Karin; Hendra, Richard
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    Although much is known about how to help welfare recipients find jobs, little is known about how to help them and other low-wage workers keep jobs or advance in the labor market. This report assesses the implementation and two-year follow-up effects of a program in Texas that aimed to promote job placement, employment retention, and advancement among applicants and recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The Texas program is part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project, which is testing 15 such programs across the country. The ERA project is being conducted by MDRC, under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

    To encourage employment retention and advancement among working TANF leavers, the Texas ERA program provided job search assistance, pre- and postemployment case management, and a monthly stipend of $200. The program was evaluated in three sites — Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, and Houston — starting in 2000. The ERA evaluation uses a...

    Although much is known about how to help welfare recipients find jobs, little is known about how to help them and other low-wage workers keep jobs or advance in the labor market. This report assesses the implementation and two-year follow-up effects of a program in Texas that aimed to promote job placement, employment retention, and advancement among applicants and recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The Texas program is part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project, which is testing 15 such programs across the country. The ERA project is being conducted by MDRC, under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

    To encourage employment retention and advancement among working TANF leavers, the Texas ERA program provided job search assistance, pre- and postemployment case management, and a monthly stipend of $200. The program was evaluated in three sites — Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, and Houston — starting in 2000. The ERA evaluation uses a random assignment research design: Through a lottery-like process, eligible individuals were assigned either to a program group, whose members participated in the ERA program, or to a control group, whose members participated in Texas’s standard welfare-to-work program (called “Choices”). The control group’s outcomes tell what would have happened in the absence of the ERA program, providing benchmarks against which to compare the program group. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bloom, Dan; Redcross, Cindy; Zweig, Janine; Azurdia, Gilda
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2007

    This paper presents early results from an evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) in New York City, a highly regarded employment program for former prisoners. The evaluation is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. The project is led by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research firm, along with the Urban Institute and other partners. More than 650,000 people are released from prison each year. These ex-prisoners, many of them parents of children receiving welfare, face serious obstacles to successful reentry, and rates of recidivism are high. Most experts agree that finding steady work is one of the central challenges they face. CEO uses a distinctive transitional employment model. After a four-day job readiness class, participants are placed in temporary, minimum-wage jobs with crews that work under contract to city and state agencies. Within weeks, they receive help...

    This paper presents early results from an evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) in New York City, a highly regarded employment program for former prisoners. The evaluation is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. The project is led by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research firm, along with the Urban Institute and other partners. More than 650,000 people are released from prison each year. These ex-prisoners, many of them parents of children receiving welfare, face serious obstacles to successful reentry, and rates of recidivism are high. Most experts agree that finding steady work is one of the central challenges they face. CEO uses a distinctive transitional employment model. After a four-day job readiness class, participants are placed in temporary, minimum-wage jobs with crews that work under contract to city and state agencies. Within weeks, they receive help finding permanent jobs and, later, services to promote employment retention. The evaluation targets a key subset of CEO’s population — ex-prisoners who showed up at the program after being referred by a parole officer. It uses a random assignment design: in 2004 and 2005, nearly 1,000 people were assigned, at random, to the regular CEO program or to receive basic job search assistance (this is called the control group). The research team is following both groups for several years, using surveys and administrative data to measure the program’s impact on employment, recidivism, and other outcomes. At this point, data on employment covered by unemployment insurance (UI) and several measures of recidivism are avail-able for one year. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wissel, Sarah; Hartog, Jacob; Sama-Miller, Emily
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2016

    Most employment and training interventions for low-income adults consist of a variety of services, strategies or approaches intended to improve employment and earnings. Many also include strategies to address other needs of the target population, such as housing. To enable quicker comparison across interventions, the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review identified a primary strategy for each multi-strategy intervention the review examined.

    Primary service strategies identified include:

    • Education
    • Training
    • Work-Readiness Activities
    • Subsidized Employment/Transitional Jobs
    • Employment Retention Services
    • Case Management
    • Financial Incentives or Sanctions
    • Supportive Services
    • Health Services

    This guide describes the process for identifying a primary strategy, and lists a primary strategy for each intervention. (author abstract)

    Most employment and training interventions for low-income adults consist of a variety of services, strategies or approaches intended to improve employment and earnings. Many also include strategies to address other needs of the target population, such as housing. To enable quicker comparison across interventions, the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review identified a primary strategy for each multi-strategy intervention the review examined.

    Primary service strategies identified include:

    • Education
    • Training
    • Work-Readiness Activities
    • Subsidized Employment/Transitional Jobs
    • Employment Retention Services
    • Case Management
    • Financial Incentives or Sanctions
    • Supportive Services
    • Health Services

    This guide describes the process for identifying a primary strategy, and lists a primary strategy for each intervention. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Center for Employment Opportunities and MDRC
    Reference Type: Report, Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2006

    States and localities across the United States are feeling the aftereffects of a 25-year incarceration binge. In a period of just 15 years, from 1980 to 1995, the number of people incarcerated in federal and state prisons and local jails more than tripled, from about 500,000 to more than 1.5 million. Today, more than 2 million people are behind bars nationwide. Since almost all prisoners are eventually released, an incarceration boom necessarily translates into a reentry boom. In fact, more than 600,000 people are released from prison each year. Unfortunately, most end up back in the criminal justice system before long. With state and local budgets strained by the high cost of incarceration, breaking the cycle of recidivism is one promising way to shrink the prison population — as well as to increase public safety and to improve the well-being of former prisoners, their families, and their communities.

    Ex-prisoners face a daunting set of obstacles to reentry, but securing employment may be the biggest challenge of all. The unemployment...

    States and localities across the United States are feeling the aftereffects of a 25-year incarceration binge. In a period of just 15 years, from 1980 to 1995, the number of people incarcerated in federal and state prisons and local jails more than tripled, from about 500,000 to more than 1.5 million. Today, more than 2 million people are behind bars nationwide. Since almost all prisoners are eventually released, an incarceration boom necessarily translates into a reentry boom. In fact, more than 600,000 people are released from prison each year. Unfortunately, most end up back in the criminal justice system before long. With state and local budgets strained by the high cost of incarceration, breaking the cycle of recidivism is one promising way to shrink the prison population — as well as to increase public safety and to improve the well-being of former prisoners, their families, and their communities.

    Ex-prisoners face a daunting set of obstacles to reentry, but securing employment may be the biggest challenge of all. The unemployment rate of formerly incarcerated people one year after release may be as high as 60 percent, and there is an increasing reluctance among employers to hire people with criminal histories. Further, studies show that inmates reentering communities are most vulnerable to failure in the early stages after release from jail or prison. Since the late 1970s, New York City’s Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) has addressed the relationship between work and crime. Through a highly structured program of pre-employment training, immediate short-term transitional employment, and full-time job placement services, CEO helps close to 2,000 men and women each year to take the crucial first steps toward staying out of prison and returning to their families and communities. MDRC is conducting a rigorous evaluation of CEO’s program as part of a multi-site project, Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor. Early results from this study are now available.

    With generous support from the JEHT Foundation, MDRC and CEO have written this overview of the CEO program. First, it discusses the link between unemployment and recidivism. Second, it lays out the “what” of the program: CEO’s company philosophy and the four phases of the CEO program. Then it discusses the “how” of the program: how it came to be, how it appeals to key stakeholders (including government agencies and private employers), and how its financial and organizational structures keep it strong. The document concludes with case studies to illustrate early examples of how CEO’s model is being replicated and adapted for use in other jurisdictions or with other populations. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Martinson, Karin; Hamilton, Gayle
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    This brief presents findings, and lessons for policy and practice, from MDRC-conducted studies of five programs that provided earnings supplements and that have been rigorously evaluated using a random assignment research design: the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), Milwaukee’s New Hope Project, the Texas Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) program, and the United Kingdom Employment Retention and Advancement (UK ERA) program. The evaluations primarily focus on the effects of the programs on single parents. SSP, MFIP, and New Hope operated some time ago (primarily in the 1990s), but long-run follow-up data are available only recently. In addition, relatively new evaluation results are available from the more recent Texas ERA and UK ERA programs.

    This brief discusses key findings from evaluations of these earnings supplement programs and then provides lessons for both policy and practice that have emerged from these initiatives. While each program had its own set of unique circumstances and lessons (and none is...

    This brief presents findings, and lessons for policy and practice, from MDRC-conducted studies of five programs that provided earnings supplements and that have been rigorously evaluated using a random assignment research design: the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), Milwaukee’s New Hope Project, the Texas Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) program, and the United Kingdom Employment Retention and Advancement (UK ERA) program. The evaluations primarily focus on the effects of the programs on single parents. SSP, MFIP, and New Hope operated some time ago (primarily in the 1990s), but long-run follow-up data are available only recently. In addition, relatively new evaluation results are available from the more recent Texas ERA and UK ERA programs.

    This brief discusses key findings from evaluations of these earnings supplement programs and then provides lessons for both policy and practice that have emerged from these initiatives. While each program had its own set of unique circumstances and lessons (and none is currently operating), the focus here is on common themes across the initiatives. (author abstract)

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