SSP-Plus provided a generous earnings subsidy as well as job search and employment services to encourage employment among recipients of Canadian Income Assistance who secured full-time work. This evaluation directly compared SSP-Plus with a separate intervention, the Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), to better understand which of the two interventions might be more effective; the distinctive feature of SSP-Plus was the availability of job search and employment services.
SSP-Plus offered an earnings subsidy to participants who moved into full-time work (at least 30 hours a week) within one year of joining an SSP program. Participants earning less than a benchmark level (set by location and year) could receive additional income equal to half of the difference between their earnings and the benchmark. The benchmark marked the point when a typical single-parent family was earning more from full-time employment than from the Canadian Income Assistance program, which provided cash assistance to families with low income and was selected to provide a substantial work incentive. The payment increased income by about $3,000 to $7,000 (Canadian) per year for most participating families but could double income for those earning the minimum wage. In addition, participants could participate in a variety of job search and employment services, such as assistance with creating an employment plan, help with crafting a resume or job leads, membership in a job club, job coaching, and workshops on self-esteem and other topics designed to help participants overcome joblessness and find gainful employment. Participants were permanently ineligible for the earnings subsidy if they did not attain full-time work within one year of joining SSP-Plus. Those who did find full-time employment within one year were eligible to receive the subsidy for up to three years after attaining employment so long as they maintained full-time employment and did not receive Income Assistance payments during that time. Program participants could continue to receive employment services after they obtained their subsidy, regardless of whether they remained at the job that qualified them for the subsidy. SSP-Plus participants were single parents in New Brunswick, Canada, that had received Canadian Income Assistance for at least one year.
The effectiveness of SSP-Plus when compared with SSP indicates the effect of being referred to a set of services that includes those unique to SSP-Plus or how much better the offer of SSP-Plus meets participants’ needs than the offer of SSP. SSP participants were eligible for the same earnings subsidy as SSP-Plus participants, but SSP participants did not have access to the job search and employment services provided under SSP-Plus. The evaluation comparing SSP-Plus with SSP also tested the effectiveness of SSP and SSP-Plus compared with usual services.