MOST provided case management and training to single-parent Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients to improve participants’ educational and vocational skills before applying for jobs. MOST was followed by Work First, which emphasized job search and placement.
MOST followed by Work First was one of the demonstration projects made possible by Section 1115 waivers to the rules in effect at the time for the AFDC program. These Section 1115 waivers allowed states to test new approaches to advance the objectives of the AFDC program.
The MOST program was a mandatory program that provided case management, focusing on improving participants’ educational and vocational skills before they applied for jobs. Participants that did not have a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED) were assigned to basic education classes (like GED courses), whereas participants with basic education credentials were assigned to vocational or postsecondary education. Case managers helped participants arrange for supportive services like child care and transportation during program participation.
Work First began to replace MOST in 1994 and emphasized job search and placement. Participants who did not find permanent employment through MOST were transitioned to Work First, whereas new AFDC recipients were assigned directly to Work First. If participants could not secure a job in the first 30 days of Work First, they were provided with training and educational activities or community work experience.
Compared with the MOST program, staff at the Work First program monitored program participation more closely and imposed financial sanctions on participants—such as benefit reduction and case closure—for noncompliance. Services ended when clients left AFDC for employment.
Participants in MOST and Work First were single-parent AFDC recipients, 18 years old and older. The intervention was implemented in two offices in the Michigan Department of Social Services in Detroit.