The Grand Rapids LFA program focused on rapid job placement for single-parent Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients to increase employment and earnings and to decrease benefit receipt.
The Grand Rapids LFA program encouraged clients to move quickly into work without being selective about which job to take. Participants spent two weeks in a job club operated by public school staff, then began applying to jobs for up to three weeks. Participants who did not find a job during this period participated in unpaid work experiences, more job searching, vocational training, or basic education. Participants who completed job club but remained unemployed could receive multiple rounds of short-term education or vocational training for periods of nine months. Case managers focused primarily on monitoring and enforcing participation and could impose financial sanctions for nonparticipation. Child care and transportation assistance were available.
The program’s primary population included single parents who received AFDC and were required to enroll in the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills program. AFDC recipients were exempt from the enrollment requirement if they met any of the following: (1) had children younger than 1, (2) had 3 or more children younger than 10, (3) were employed 30 hours or more per week, (4) were medically unable to work, (5) were in the last trimester of pregnancy, (6) had resided in a mental institution at all during the previous 5 years, (7) had been enrolled in a rehabilitation center, or (8) were taking medication for a mental illness.
Similar LFA programs were implemented and tested in Atlanta, GA, and Riverside, CA. All three LFA programs were examined as part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies that evaluated and compared the effectiveness of two distinct strategies for AFDC recipients: LFA and human capital development (HCD). LFA focused on placing people into jobs quickly to build work habits and skills, whereas HCD focused on providing education and training as a precursor to employment.