The Riverside LFA program focused on rapid job placement for single-parent Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients to promote self-sufficiency. This evaluation directly compared LFA to a separate intervention called HCD in order to better understand which of the two interventions might be more effective; the distinctive features of LFA were rapid job placement and an emphasis on building work-related skills.
The Riverside LFA program encouraged clients to move quickly into work without being selective about which job to take. Participants first spent three weeks in a job club operated by Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program staff at the local public assistance office. Then, participants applied to jobs for at least 2 weeks and were required to make 25 to 35 employer contacts per week. Case managers were accountable for the employment outcomes of their clients and therefore encouraged success by recommending that participants take the first available job (including part-time or low-paying jobs) while full-time job developers continued searching for other opportunities for the participant. Case managers also emphasized program participation. Staff could impose financial sanctions for nonparticipation, and child care and transportation assistance were available. The combined job club and job search time lasted for about five weeks, and clients who completed these activities but remained unemployed at the end of the five-week period could receive multiple rounds of short-term education or vocational training for periods of nine months. Eligible participants included single parents who received AFDC and who were required to enroll in the JOBS program as a condition of continuing to receive public benefits. However, AFDC recipients were exempt from JOBS if they had children younger than 3, were employed 30 hours or more per week, were medically unable to work, or were in the last trimester of pregnancy. Riverside LFA was administered in Riverside, CA.
The effectiveness of LFA when compared with HCD indicates the effect of being referred to a set of services that includes those unique to LFA, or how much better the offer of LFA meets participants’ needs than the offer of 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. Riverside’s LFA and HCD programs were examined as part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies that also evaluated LFA and HCD programs in Atlanta, GA, and Grand Rapids, MI, and also compared the effectiveness of two distinct strategies for AFDC recipients: HCD and LFA.