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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: Sawhill, Isabel V.; Haskins, Ron
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2009

    Americans believe economic opportunity is as fundamental a right as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More concerned about a level playing field for all, they worry less about the growing income and wealth disparity in our country. Creating an Opportunity Society examines economic opportunity in the United States and explores how to create more of it, particularly for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose a concrete agenda for increasing opportunity that is cost effective, consistent with American values, and focuses on improving the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. They emphasize individual responsibility as an indispensable basis for successful policies and programs. The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to create more opportunity in America: " Increase education for children and youth at the preschool, K--12, and postsecondary levels " Encourage and support work among adults " Reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births while increasing the share of children reared by their married parents With...

    Americans believe economic opportunity is as fundamental a right as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More concerned about a level playing field for all, they worry less about the growing income and wealth disparity in our country. Creating an Opportunity Society examines economic opportunity in the United States and explores how to create more of it, particularly for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose a concrete agenda for increasing opportunity that is cost effective, consistent with American values, and focuses on improving the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. They emphasize individual responsibility as an indispensable basis for successful policies and programs. The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to create more opportunity in America: " Increase education for children and youth at the preschool, K--12, and postsecondary levels " Encourage and support work among adults " Reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births while increasing the share of children reared by their married parents With concern for the federal deficit in mind, Haskins and Sawhill argue for reallocating existing resources, especially from the affluent elderly to disadvantaged children and their families. The authors are optimistic that a judicious use of the nation's resources can level the playing field and produce more opportunity for all. Creating an Opportunity Society offers the most complete summary available of the facts and the factors that contribute to economic opportunity. It looks at the poor, the middle class, and the rich, providing deep background data on how each group has fared in recent decades. Unfortunately, only the rich have made substantial progress, making this book a timely guide forward for anyone interested in what we can do as a society to improve the prospects for our less-advantaged families and fellow citizens. (publisher abstract)

  • Individual Author: Derr, Michelle K.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2008

    This practice brief profiles three work experience programs that engage nearly all work-ready TANF recipients in unpaid work activities, either alone or in conjunction with education and training. Unpaid work experience is designed to mirror regular employment in the paid labor market. TANF recipients are assigned to entry-level jobs at government offices, nonprofit agencies, educational institutions, or for-profit businesses, creating an immediate attachment to the labor market. Rather than earning an hourly wage, recipients receive their TANF grant and food stamp benefits in exchange for the hours they work. In addition to helping recipients meet their TANF work requirement, these programs are designed to help recipients gain job skills and become acclimated to a regular work schedule. Erie County, New York, contracts with neighborhood organizations to provide work experience opportunities near the places where recipients live. Montana uses work experience placements as training sites to build recipients' job skills. In Hamilton County, Ohio, a consortium of agencies...

    This practice brief profiles three work experience programs that engage nearly all work-ready TANF recipients in unpaid work activities, either alone or in conjunction with education and training. Unpaid work experience is designed to mirror regular employment in the paid labor market. TANF recipients are assigned to entry-level jobs at government offices, nonprofit agencies, educational institutions, or for-profit businesses, creating an immediate attachment to the labor market. Rather than earning an hourly wage, recipients receive their TANF grant and food stamp benefits in exchange for the hours they work. In addition to helping recipients meet their TANF work requirement, these programs are designed to help recipients gain job skills and become acclimated to a regular work schedule. Erie County, New York, contracts with neighborhood organizations to provide work experience opportunities near the places where recipients live. Montana uses work experience placements as training sites to build recipients' job skills. In Hamilton County, Ohio, a consortium of agencies administers and provides work experience to TANF recipients. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Jacobs, Erin; Bloom, Dan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    As welfare caseloads have declined over the past decade, policymakers and administrators have focused increasingly on long-term and hard-to-employ recipients who have not made a stable transition from welfare to work. Many of these recipients face serious barriers to employment, such as physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, and limited work and educational backgrounds.

    This report presents final results from an evaluation of two different welfare-to-work strategies for hard-to-employ recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Philadelphia. The study is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is testing innovative employment strategies for groups facing serious obstacles to finding and keeping a steady job. The project is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is being...

    As welfare caseloads have declined over the past decade, policymakers and administrators have focused increasingly on long-term and hard-to-employ recipients who have not made a stable transition from welfare to work. Many of these recipients face serious barriers to employment, such as physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, and limited work and educational backgrounds.

    This report presents final results from an evaluation of two different welfare-to-work strategies for hard-to-employ recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Philadelphia. The study is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is testing innovative employment strategies for groups facing serious obstacles to finding and keeping a steady job. The project is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is being conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, along with the Urban Institute and other partners.

    The first approach being tested is a transitional jobs model that was operated by the Transitional Work Corporation (TWC). TWC quickly placed recipients who were referred by the welfare agency into temporary, subsidized jobs; provided work-related supports; and then, building on this work experience, helped participants look for permanent jobs. The second model, called “Success Through Employment Preparation” (STEP), aimed to assess and address participants’ barriers to employment — such as health problems or inadequate skills — before they went to work. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Redcross, Cindy; Bloom, Dan; Azurdia, Gilda; Zweig, Janine; Pindus, Nancy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2009

    Almost 700,000 people are released from state prisons each year. Ex-prisoners face daunting obstacles to successful reentry into society, and rates of recidivism are high. Most experts believe that stable employment is critical to a successful transition, but ex-prisoners have great difficulty finding steady work. This report presents interim results from a rigorous evaluation of the New York City-based Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a highly regarded employment program for ex-prisoners. CEO participants are placed in paid transitional jobs shortly after enrollment; they are supervised by CEO staff and receive a range of supports. Once they show good performance in the transitional job, participants get help finding a permanent job and additional support after placement. CEO is one of four sites in the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with...

    Almost 700,000 people are released from state prisons each year. Ex-prisoners face daunting obstacles to successful reentry into society, and rates of recidivism are high. Most experts believe that stable employment is critical to a successful transition, but ex-prisoners have great difficulty finding steady work. This report presents interim results from a rigorous evaluation of the New York City-based Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a highly regarded employment program for ex-prisoners. CEO participants are placed in paid transitional jobs shortly after enrollment; they are supervised by CEO staff and receive a range of supports. Once they show good performance in the transitional job, participants get help finding a permanent job and additional support after placement. CEO is one of four sites in the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. The project is being conducted under contract to HHS by MDRC, a nonprofit research organization, along with the Urban Institute and other partners. The impacts of CEO’s program are being assessed using a rigorous research design. In 2004-2005, a total of 977 ex-prisoners who reported to CEO were assigned, at random, to a program group that was eligible for all of CEO’s services or to a control group that received basic job search assistance. So far, the two groups have been followed for two years after study entry. (author abstract)

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