The Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment Program—PWE provided fully subsidized work opportunities and support with job searches to increase Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients’ employability. This evaluation directly compared PWE to a separate intervention, OJT, in order to better understand which of the two interventions might be more effective; the distinctive features of PWE include job search assistance from case managers and full subsidies for work experience that also covered some time searching for jobs.
At the time this evaluation occurred, two Transitional Subsidized Employment programs were active in Los Angeles County: PWE and an on-the-job (OJT) training program. PWE placed each participant in a fully subsidized, six-month position at a public-sector or nonprofit organization, where they were paid minimum wage by the local Workforce Investment Board. Case management was provided to assist participants in searching for unsubsidized employment, and in the final month of subsidized employment, participants also received 16 hours of paid time to engage in a job search. The average placement lasted six months.
TANF recipients who were not exempt from TANF work requirements were referred to Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN), the county’s welfare-to-work program. (Work requirement exemptions could be due to having very young children, having a disability, or caring for an ill or disabled person.) Participants who were not able to find unsubsidized work during their four-week job search under GAIN were recruited for Transitional Subsidized Employment if they met the following additional criteria: (1) able to work the hours required by PWE or OJT; (2) had at least five months of TANF eligibility remaining; (3) did not participate in Transitional Subsidized Employment in the last year; (4) did not have major employment barriers; and (5) had demonstrated to staff that they could and wanted to work (assessed by staff in various ways across locations). PWE was offered in Los Angeles County, CA.
The evaluation of PWE also analyzes the OJT model, and a comparison of OJT versus PWE. The effectiveness of PWE when compared with OJT indicates the effect of being referred to a set of services that includes those unique to PWE; the comparison indicates how much better the offer of PWE meets participants’ needs than the offer of OJT. The Workforce Investment Board only paid participants’ wages for the first two months of each OJT job placement, compared to all six months of each PWE placement; this meant that, starting in the third month, employers had to add OJT participants to their payroll and would receive a partial subsidy. PWE participants were placed in the nonprofit and public sectors, whereas OJT participants were placed in the for-profit sector. Unlike PWE participants, those in OJT could not receive wages for any time spent searching for jobs, nor did they have access to job search assistance from case managers. The evaluation of PWE as compared with OJT also tested PWE and OJT separately, compared with other services available in the community.