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 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 LFA program implemented in Grand Rapids, MI, 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.

Case managers focused primarily on monitoring and enforcing participation and could impose financial sanctions for nonparticipation. Child care and transportation assistance were available. Participants who completed job club but remained unemployed could receive multiple rounds of short-term education or vocational training for periods of nine months.

The program focused on single-parent AFDC recipients who 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. Grand Rapid’s LFA program was 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.

Year evaluation began: 1991
Populations and employment barriers: Parents, Single parents, Cash assistance recipients
Intervention services: Education, Sanctions, Supportive services, Training, Occupational or sectoral training, Unpaid work experience, Work experience, Job search assistance
Setting(s): Urban only

Effectiveness Rating and Effect By Outcome Domain

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Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Supported favorable $3,117 per year 0.15 3012
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $84 per year 0.00 3012
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 9% (in percentage points) 0.22 3012
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -1% (in percentage points) -0.04 3012
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-663 per year -0.24 3012
Long-term Supported favorable $-470 per year -0.17 3012
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -5% (in percentage points) -0.09 1158

Studies of this Intervention

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Study Quality Rating Study Counts per Rating
High High 1