• 0.22,1.00
  • -0.07,3.00

The TAAG program provided employment-related retention and advancement services to help workers with low incomes maintain their jobs and move ahead in the labor market. 

The TAAG program provided employment-related retention and advancement services to help workers with low incomes maintain their jobs and move ahead in the labor market. 

TAAG is a model from the Employment Retention and Advancement study. The TAAG program provided job retention and career advancement services customized to participants’ career interests and personal circumstances. A collaboration of four agencies provided TAAG services; the agencies included a local public human services agency, workforce organizations, and a community college. TAAG participants worked with a service team, supervised by a project manager and comprising staff from the four agencies. The teams included job coaches, job counselors, job developers, case managers, learning plan specialists, and employment specialists. Job retention services included job coaching and conflict resolution, assistance developing household budgets, and referrals to mental health and substance abuse services as needed. Advancement services included helping participants identify better jobs in the job market; coaching participants on how to have conversations with employers about pay raises, promotions, or increasing work hours; and counseling participants about appropriate work behaviors for work advancement opportunities. Some participants lost their jobs after they enrolled in the evaluation but before starting TAAG services. In these cases, the TAAG providers offered job search assistance, including identifying job leads, preparing résumés, and helping with job applications. The TAAG program provided additional services to help participants remove barriers to work, such as referrals to the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) to get assistance with food stamps, transitional child care services, and subsidized health insurance. TAAG participants could receive gas vouchers and funding for car repairs. The TAAG program also helped participants identify short-term vocational training programs to support job advancement as well as GED or other education programs. Participants were able to access TAAG program services for one year.

The program served employed people who (1) had recently left or were working enough to leave Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), (2) were participating in the state Food Stamp Employment and Training (FSET) program, or (3) were participating in the Employment-Related Day Care program (which provided child care subsidies to low-income, working families). TAAG took place in Medford, OR.

Year evaluation began: 2002
Populations and employment barriers: Employed, Parents
Intervention services: Case management, Employment retention services, Supportive services, Financial education, Soft skills training, Work readiness activities, Employment coaching, 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 $1,652 per year 0.079 1628
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable $-377 per year -0.018 1628
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 1% (in percentage points) 0.014 1628
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -1% (in percentage points) -0.017 1628
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $-6 per year -0.002 1628
Long-term Not supported unfavorable $201 per year 0.073 1164
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods No evidence to assess support

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
4%
White, not Hispanic
64%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
13%
American Indian or Alaska Native
1%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

TAAG’s study enrollment period was from February 2002 to April 2004. Evaluators administered surveys 12 months and 42 months after random assignment to a subset of participants in the intervention and comparison groups. The follow-up period was from 2004 to 2007. The TAAG program started in February 2002 and ended in July 2005.

Organizations implementing intervention

The Oregon Department of Human Services Children, Adult, and Families Division and a nonprofit service provider, The Job Council, managed TAAG. Rogue Community College and the Oregon Employment Department (ED) were also key partners in implementing the intervention. The Job Council served as the central location for services.

Populations served

The TAAG program served the following groups: (1) employed people with low incomes who formerly received TANF benefits, (2) current recipients of the FSET program or Employment-Related Day Care program, and (3) TANF cash assistance recipients who had worked at least 30 hours per week (for single parents) or 55 hours per week (for two-parent families) for at least 6 consecutive months and had an upcoming benefit redetermination appointment. Participation in the program was voluntary, and FSET or TANF participants were not penalized for declining to participate.

The majority of TAAG participants were White, not Hispanic (90 percent), and female (91 percent). Participants were an average age of 31. Although most participants were single mothers, about one-third (29 percent) were in two-parent families, and participants had, on average, 1.9 minor children. Forty-one percent of participants had a child older than age 6. Almost all program participants (98 percent) reported being employed at the point of randomization, and 64 percent earned hourly wages between $7.00 and $9.99. Before enrolling in TAAG, 63 percent of participants received TANF benefits at some point. A high proportion of participants (80 percent) had completed high school or a GED.

Description of services implemented

The intervention consisted of a set of services to promote employment stability and wage growth among former TANF recipients and people with low incomes. TAAG services were customized to participants’ work conditions and goals. Service providers had autonomy in implementing and structuring their services.
TAAG staff delivered services in the mornings, evenings, and weekends. The TAAG team met with participants in person at various settings, such as the office or participants’ homes, and over the phone or through written contact.

The TAAG intervention consisted of the following components:

  • Intake. During the initial intake session, various TAAG staff met with participants to build rapport and demonstrate to participants that they were invested in their success. Participants completed a personal development plan and set forth personal and professional goals with action steps to achieve them.
  • Employment retention. Participants received job coaching, conflict resolution services, support with developing a household budget, and other post-employment services to help them maintain employment. TAAG also delivered employment-related supportive services and funding to participants, including gas vouchers, rental assistance, and for vehicle repairs, to aid participants in emergencies that could otherwise affect their employment.
  • Career Advancement services. TAAG staff provided services to help participants advance in their careers, including job search assistance, coaching on advancement goals, and instruction on negotiating for higher wages and maintaining good behavior to obtain a promotion.
  • Education and training. TAAG staff helped participants enroll in GED classes and obtain their GED certificate. Staff also helped participants sign-up for adult basic education, college programs or short-term vocational training. Participants could receive funding for school, tools, equipment, and short-term training programs.
  • Job search assistance. Participants who lost their jobs worked with a job coach and an employment specialist to help them gain new employment best suited for their interests and skills. TAAG staff helped participants develop résumés and complete job applications.
  • Other services. TAAG staff referred participants to TANF, mental health, and substance abuse services if needed. TAAG did not integrate TANF intake or support services into their program. Instead, staff referred participants to the local DHS office to acquire benefits. TAAG leaders intentionally separated public benefits and TAAG services so the team could focus on participants’ career advancement goals and not be mandated to enforce TANF eligibility requirements.

The intervention changed in several ways during the study period. Contrary to the initial design of the TAAG model and in contrast with other TAAG programs, TAAG did not often contact employers on behalf of participants. TAAG did not fully integrate an employer engagement approach as initially planned, an approach that was intended to improve retention and advancement among participants. Most staff did not follow up because of a lack of experience collaborating with employers, or because participants did not want staff to contact employers. Employment Retention and Advancement staff mainly provided information about jobs without advocating for the participant or facilitating relationships with their employers.

Labor market conditions during TAAG’s implementation meant that an unexpectedly high number of participants experienced job loss and increased demand for reemployment services from TAAG staff. TAAG staff had to redirect their efforts from career counseling to crisis management. Eventually, after additional training was provided to staff, staff re-pivoted their approach toward retention and advancement.

State funding cuts in 2004 caused significant changes to TAAG program staffing and services. Halfway through the program period, the employment specialist and learning plan specialist moved their services off-site to the community college and could no longer dedicate their time to only TAAG participants or offer services at The Job Council and in the field. The funding for training, emergency services, and equipment ended. TAAG staff salaries were cut by 10 percent, and one TAAG team member left their position. The U.S. Department of Labor provided funding to the TAAG program to maintain services; however, the amount provided did not offset the full funding cut, and the TAAG program reduced services.

Challenges. Retaining reemployed participants was a challenge for the service provider. Many TAAG participants feared losing their benefits when advancing to higher wages, and it deterred them from engaging in advancement services, pursuing a higher-paying job, or moving up in their current employment.

In addition, TAAG services at Medford were fragmented and inconsistent for participants. TAAG did not have a package of standard services for all participants because the services were adapted to fit each client’s needs and interests. Thus, some participants were not aware of all program components or resources. Furthermore, program staff’s lack of collaboration and connection with employers and industries, as noted earlier, limited the extent to which they could help participants secure specific jobs.

Service intensity

Participants received up to a year of TAAG services after enrollment.

In a 12-month follow-up survey administered to TAAG participants, the TAAG group reported they had, on average, about 10 contacts with their case manager or other staff after randomization. Twenty-four percent of the TAAG group members had interacted with a staff member in the 4 weeks before the survey. On average, TAAG participants spent 52 minutes per contact with staff. TAAG staff mainly initiated client interactions (79 percent).

Comparison conditions

The comparison group was not eligible for TAAG services but could receive standard employment-related services and transitional services from DHS staff or the Oregon ED. Transitional services included up to $1,000 of financial aid for training or emergency support payments for rent and transportation, help accessing community resources, or help developing a personal development plan with their transition case manager. Comparison group participants had to be proactive and knowledgeable about the transition assistance to request and acquire the assistance.

Partnerships

Rogue Community College and the Oregon ED were key partners in implementing the intervention. In addition, the Lewin Group provided technical assistance to TAAG staff.

Staffing

Staff from four partner agencies delivered TAAG services. The staff members consisted of the following:

  • A case manager from DHS who oversaw daily program operations
  • A job counselor from The Job Council who provided job retention services
  • A job coach from The Job Council who helped clients with advancement services
  • A learning plan specialist from Rogue Community College who helped clients identify training and education opportunities
  • An employment specialist from the Oregon ED who was dedicated to helping participants find jobs
  • Two co-project managers who supervised the intervention and the TAAG team

TAAG senior managers looked for staff for the TAAG program who could work independently, were familiar with local resources for participants, applied a strengths-based approach when serving clients, and were creative when working with clients in helping them meet their goals. All staff had bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Local context

The TAAG intervention operated in the Rogue Valley region of Medford, OR. During the study, the city of Medford had a high unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, and the local economy was rebounding from a recession. Furthermore, Medford’s economy was transitioning away from wood-product manufacturing industries toward industries that had lower wages such as retail, tourism, and health care.

Oregon had a minimum wage of $7.50 per hour during the study period in 2005.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

The program was funded by the Oregon DHS using TANF funds. Oregon’s TANF program experienced funding cuts during the program period, which reduced TAAG’s funding. The U.S. Department of Labor provided funding that allowed TAAG to continue services and evaluation efforts despite these cuts.

Cost information

The study did not discuss a cost per participant or a comparison of costs and benefits.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 2