PRIDE sought to move cash assistance recipients with severe mental and physical health challenges into employment by providing integrated health and employment training services as well as help securing and maintaining employment.

PRIDE sought to move cash assistance recipients with severe mental and physical health challenges into employment by providing integrated health and employment training services as well as help securing and maintaining employment.

Participants received a medical evaluation and were assigned to PRIDE if they were deemed not healthy enough to participate in standard welfare-to-work programs, but too healthy to claim federal disability benefits. After an initial assessment by PRIDE staff, a participant was assigned to either a work-based education (WBE) or vocational rehabilitation (VR) track. The WBE track consisted of three days of unpaid work experience and two days of classroom-based adult basic education per week for a total of 35 hours of WBE activities per week over six months. The VR track consisted of at least 25 hours per week of activities over six months, during which time participants would make an individual plan for employment, participate in an unpaid work experience, and take part in group job readiness exercises.

Participants could have an additional six months of WBE or VR track activities if they did not secure employment after the first six months. All PRIDE participants received job search and job placement assistance and faced reductions in benefit payments as a sanction for noncompliance. PRIDE staff checked in with employed participants for the first six months after they finished the program to verify their continued employment.

PRIDE operated from 1998 to 2004; the Wellness, Comprehensive Assessment Rehabilitation and Employment (WeCARE) program replaced PRIDE in 2004 and, as of 2020, continues to offer similar services to eligible participants referred to the program. PRIDE focused on recipients of New York’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and locally funded cash assistance programs who requested a medical exemption from welfare-to-work programs because of severe mental and physical health challenges. PRIDE was implemented in New York City.

Year evaluation began: 2001
Populations and employment barriers: Cash assistance recipients, Chronic illness
Intervention services: Case management, Education, Employment retention services, Sanctions, Training, Unpaid work experience, Work experience, Work readiness activities, Job search assistance, Job development/job placement
Setting(s): Urban only

Effectiveness Rating and Effect By Outcome Domain

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Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Supported favorable $1,569 per year 0.08 3188
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $690 per year 0.03 3188
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 3% (in percentage points) 0.08 3188
Long-term Supported favorable 4% (in percentage points) 0.09 3188
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-6 per year 0.00 3188
Long-term Supported favorable $-242 per year -0.09 3188
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods No evidence to assess support

Implementation Details

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Dates covered by study

Evaluators enrolled individuals in the study from December 2001 to December 2002 and followed them for two years thereafter. PRIDE was in operation from 1999 through 2004.

Organizations implementing intervention

The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), the New York State Education Department, and the New York State Department of Labor jointly developed and managed the program. The HRA coordinated with four nonprofit organizations to deliver services: the Federation Employment and Guidance Service, National Center for Disability Services, Goodwill Industries, and Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service. Each nonprofit organization contracted by the New York State Education Department to be a direct service provider and separately serve different geographic areas.

Populations served

PRIDE served recipients of New York’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and locally funded cash assistance programs who did not qualify for federal disability benefits and requested a medical exemption from welfare-to-work activities because of severe mental and physical health challenges. After a medical evaluation deemed an individual “employable with limitations,” specialized HRA staff referred them to a service provider. Participants were either single parents or childless adults, and the majority were Black or Hispanic (about 85 percent). The study did not discuss additional demographic statistics of the population served.

Participation was mandatory, and individuals faced reductions in benefit payments as a sanction for noncompliance.

Description of services implemented

After an initial assessment of reading and math skills, medical conditions, and education and work history by service provider PRIDE staff, a participant was assigned to either a work-based education (WBE) or vocational rehabilitation (VR) track. The WBE track consisted of three days of unpaid work experience and two days of classroom-based adult basic education, GED, or English-as-a-second-language classes per week. The VR track was more flexible and generally consisted of activities such as making an individual plan for employment, participating in an unpaid work experience, and taking part in group job-readiness exercises. The unpaid work experiences were matched to participants based on interests, geography, limitations, and language; they were also designed to accommodate medical needs such as asthma or orthopedic problems. Service provider PRIDE case managers helped monitor attendance and performance at work sites, and job developers offered participants in both tracks job search assistance when they were ready for a job.

The intervention was implemented as planned, though participants did not begin the program for several months because of the complexities of identifying eligible recipients and assessing their conditions and barriers to employment. About one-third of the group was sanctioned for noncompliance, and others were later deemed to be employable because of changes in their medical conditions.

Service intensity

The WBE track consisted of 35 hours per week of activities over 6 months, and the VR track consisted of at least 25 hours per week of activities over 6 months, though participants could have an additional 6 months of WBE or VR track activities if they did not secure employment after the first 6 months. Job retention staff checked in with employed participants for the first 6 months after they finished the program to verify their continued employment.

Comparison conditions

Eligible recipients not assigned to PRIDE received benefits as usual and were exempt from work requirements as long as they were medically deemed unable to work. They were informed about employment services and could seek out services on their own, but they did not have direct access to job search services, unpaid work experience, and job retention services.

Partnerships

Medical evaluations were conducted by an unnamed HRA contractor. Additional agencies helped manage the program, including the New York State Departments of Education and Labor and the state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency (the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities [VESID]).

Staffing

A group of specialized staff from HRA managed referrals to the implementing organizations and provided case management—focused on eligibility, connecting participants to supportive services, and noncompliance—to participants.

Organizations delivering services generally had several dozen staff organized into units, including staff who administered intake and assessment, unpaid work experience developers, case managers who focused on PRIDE activities and barriers to employment, job developers, staff specialized in post-employment follow-up, and educational instructors. Staff working on PRIDE were not required to have experience working with individuals with disabilities. The study authors did not include information on staff training, degrees, or certifications.

Two or three VESID VR counselors were also available at each organization’s site to help participants access VR services and develop an Individual Plan for Employment.

Local context

PRIDE was implemented in New York City.

Fidelity measures

The study authors did not discuss any tools to measure fidelity to the intervention model.

Funding source

ACF within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded the evaluation of PRIDE through the national Employment Retention and Advancement project. The Welfare-to-Work block grant from the Department of Labor was also a major source of funding for PRIDE.

Cost information

Service providers were paid $750 per participant for the initial assessment and $26 per active participant per day for program services. The study did not discuss a comparison of costs and benefits.

Studies of this Intervention

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Study Quality Rating Study Counts per Rating
High High 2