Future Steps provided employment-focused case management to public assistance recipients and other low-income individuals to help them find and keep good jobs and progress toward economic independence.
Future Steps implemented an employment-focused case management model. Working with an employment specialist, participants underwent an initial career and skills assessment and then began individualized job-search, job-placement, and skills-enhancement programs. These employment services also included informal counseling and referrals to specialized job training and other services such as child care and mental health services.
In addition, payments of up to $500 were available to defray costs associated with program participation (such as transportation, child care, and so on) and to assist with other barriers to employment. Future Steps staff had the flexibility to approve a wide variety of uses for these funds. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients could receive up to an additional $1,200 in payments, but these funds were subject to more restrictions than the initial $500. Participants who were receiving TANF or assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were required to work 30 hours a week, or faced reductions in their benefit payments.
Participants received Future Steps services until they found work, but they could receive follow-up services for up to three months after they gained employment and could return to Future Steps if they lost their job. Employment specialists made contact every two weeks on average, diminishing the frequency of contacts after participants gained employment.
Future Steps served TANF and SNAP recipients facing work requirements, as well as volunteers from low-income households who could commit to working at least 30 hours a week. Future Steps was implemented in five rural counties in southern Illinois.