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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: 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: Fink, Barbara
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Subsidized employment and transitional jobs programs seek to increase employment and earnings among individuals who have not been able to find employment on their own. First-hand accounts of participants’ experiences in these programs can inform efforts to improve long-term employment outcomes for various “hard-to-employ” populations.

    This study is part of two federally funded multisite projects — the Department of Labor’s Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED) — testing various subsidized employment models. These programs targeted a variety of disadvantaged populations, including welfare recipients, people returning to the community from prison, and low-income parents who do not have custody of their children (“noncustodial” parents, usually fathers) and who owe child support. The projects tested programs that enhanced the subsidized job model with case management and other support services, job-readiness training, and job search assistance intended to...

    Subsidized employment and transitional jobs programs seek to increase employment and earnings among individuals who have not been able to find employment on their own. First-hand accounts of participants’ experiences in these programs can inform efforts to improve long-term employment outcomes for various “hard-to-employ” populations.

    This study is part of two federally funded multisite projects — the Department of Labor’s Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED) — testing various subsidized employment models. These programs targeted a variety of disadvantaged populations, including welfare recipients, people returning to the community from prison, and low-income parents who do not have custody of their children (“noncustodial” parents, usually fathers) and who owe child support. The projects tested programs that enhanced the subsidized job model with case management and other support services, job-readiness training, and job search assistance intended to help participants move into unsubsidized employment.

    This report draws on in-depth interviews with over 80 ETJD and STED participants from 11 programs. These interviews provide rich and nuanced information about participants’ lives and social support, experiences in the programs, and employment goals and outcomes. (Author overview)

  • 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: Youdelman, Sondra; Getsos, Paul
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    This report documents the results of a comprehensive examination of the Employment Services and Placement (ESP) System, a key program developed and administered by the Human Resources Administration (HRA) to further its work-first approach. The research set out to uncover whether or not currently operating job readiness and job placement programs accomplish their intended goals, what stands in their way, and how they might be improved to better serve the needs of the clients, the providers, and the system at large. Our findings point to a failure of this work-first model in achieving its main goal – moving people from welfare to work, into jobs and toward economic independence. (author abstract)

    This report documents the results of a comprehensive examination of the Employment Services and Placement (ESP) System, a key program developed and administered by the Human Resources Administration (HRA) to further its work-first approach. The research set out to uncover whether or not currently operating job readiness and job placement programs accomplish their intended goals, what stands in their way, and how they might be improved to better serve the needs of the clients, the providers, and the system at large. Our findings point to a failure of this work-first model in achieving its main goal – moving people from welfare to work, into jobs and toward economic independence. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Zweig, Janine; Yahner, Jennifer; Redcross, Cindy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    The New York City-based Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is a transitional jobs program designed to help former prisoners increase longer-term employment and, consequently, reduce recidivism. Interim results from MDRC’s rigorous impact evaluation of CEO show reduced recidivism in both the first and the second year of follow-up. This research brief expands on those results by using regression-based analysis to identify whether CEO had its greatest impact among low-, medium-, or high-risk offenders — with risk levels being defined by participants’ characteristics before random assignment that are associated with recidivism after random assignment. CEO had its strongest reductions in recidivism for former prisoners who were at highest risk of recidivism, for whom CEO reduced the probability of rearrest, the number of rearrests, and the probability of reconviction two years after random assignment. If confirmed by other studies, these findings suggest that the limited resources available to transitional jobs programs for former prisoners should be targeted toward the people...

    The New York City-based Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is a transitional jobs program designed to help former prisoners increase longer-term employment and, consequently, reduce recidivism. Interim results from MDRC’s rigorous impact evaluation of CEO show reduced recidivism in both the first and the second year of follow-up. This research brief expands on those results by using regression-based analysis to identify whether CEO had its greatest impact among low-, medium-, or high-risk offenders — with risk levels being defined by participants’ characteristics before random assignment that are associated with recidivism after random assignment. CEO had its strongest reductions in recidivism for former prisoners who were at highest risk of recidivism, for whom CEO reduced the probability of rearrest, the number of rearrests, and the probability of reconviction two years after random assignment. If confirmed by other studies, these findings suggest that the limited resources available to transitional jobs programs for former prisoners should be targeted toward the people at highest risk of recidivating, because they are helped most by this intervention. (author abstract)

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