To help participants secure jobs that could lead to economic self-sufficiency, Atlanta’s HCD program focused on providing education and training to single parents who were Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients.
Atlanta’s HCD program stressed that participants should spend time receiving education or training to prepare for good jobs. At the start of the program, case managers assigned participants to adult basic education courses or vocational training programs. Participants were assigned to adult basic education courses more often than training programs because many vocational programs required GEDs or certificates that the participants did not have when starting the HCD program. Case managers had limited individualized involvement with participants but emphasized the importance of participation and could enforce participation rules by imposing sanctions on nonparticipating clients that temporarily reduced their welfare grant amounts by $45 (in 1993 dollars). The sanction could last until the participant agreed to participate in the program activity. Case managers also supported participants by directly paying child care providers and reimbursing transportation costs. The program expected that most participants would complete training or educational activities within two years but approved longer durations based on participant needs.
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 (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. Atlanta’s HCD program, implemented in Atlanta, GA, was evaluated as part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies that also tested HCD programs implemented in Riverside, CA, and Grand Rapids, MI. The demonstration also compared the effectiveness of Labor Force Attachment programs versus HCD programs in Atlanta, GA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Riverside, CA, and evaluated programs in Portland, OR; Detroit, MI; Oklahoma City, OK; and two programs in Columbus, OH (Columbus Integrated and Columbus Traditional).