The Atlanta 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, 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.
Atlanta LFA encouraged clients to move quickly into work without being selective about which job to take. Participants first spent up to three weeks in a job club operated in Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program offices and led by a community action agency. Then, participants applied to jobs for 1 to 2 weeks and were required to make 6 in-person inquiries or send 15 inquiry letters to employers per week. Individuals who did not find a job during this period could go on to participate in more job searching, vocational training, basic education, or unpaid work experience. Case managers offered counseling to participants during this time as well as child care and transportation assistance when needed. Case managers also could enforce participation rules by imposing sanctions on nonparticipating clients that temporarily reduced their welfare grant amounts by $45 for a family of three (in 1993 dollars). The sanction could last until the participant agreed to participate in the program activity. The combined job club and job search time lasted for about five weeks, and individuals who remained unemployed at the end of the five-week period could receive multiple rounds of short-term education or vocational training for up to 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. Atlanta LFA was administered in Atlanta, GA.
The effectiveness of LFA when compared with HCD indicates the effect of referral to the services that are 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. Atlanta’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 Riverside, CA, and Grand Rapids, MI, and programs in Portland, OR; Detroit, MI; Oklahoma City, OK; and two programs in Columbus, OH (Columbus Integrated and Columbus Traditional).