• 0.16,1.00
  • 0.22,1.25
  • 0.07,1.00
  • 0.07,1.00

SFTW provided low-income, noncustodial parents with support to find transitional jobs; SFTW’s goal was to improve employment outcomes and participants’ ability to pay child support.

SFTW provided low-income, noncustodial parents with support to find transitional jobs; SFTW’s goal was to improve employment outcomes and participants’ ability to pay child support.

SFTW started with a three- to five-day job-readiness workshop, during which participants took assessments and engaged in job-readiness activities. Participants were then assigned a case manager, who helped participants become more job ready; develop soft skills; and address barriers to work, such as a lack of clothing, transportation, or housing. Case managers also served as job coaches and helped match participants to transitional jobs based on their skills and interests, mostly with private-sector employers. The transitional jobs paid participants minimum wage, fully subsidized by the program, for 30 hours per week. Participants also received help with child support; the county froze interest accumulation for debt owed to the state and forgave accrued interest in part or in whole, depending on the participant’s progress in the program. Program staff tried to make job placements quickly, and the transitional jobs could last up to six months, at which point participants were expected to have found unsubsidized employment. Participants were expected to begin searching for unsubsidized employment midway through the transitional job, working with a job developer at the Career Opportunity Center. SFTW provided an earnings supplement to bring unsubsidized employment wages up to $10 per hour for up to six months if the job paid less.

Unemployed noncustodial parents with a child support order in place were eligible for SFTW if they also met one of the following criteria: had no high school diploma or equivalent; had been actively seeking employment, were ineligible for or had exhausted unemployment insurance benefits, and had been unemployed for a period of 12 weeks before applying for the program; had not had any period of continuous employment for 1 employer for a period of 4 months or more during the past 12 months; or had a major barrier to employment, such as a pending criminal justice action.

SFTW was implemented in Milwaukee, WI. The evaluation of SFTW was part of the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) evaluation, which also tested similar subsidized employment programs implemented in Atlanta, GA (Good Transitions); San Francisco, CA (TransitionsSF); Syracuse, NY (Parent Success Initiative); Fort Worth, TX (Next STEP); Indianapolis, IN (RecycleForce); and New York, NY (Ready, Willing and Able—Pathways2Work).

Year evaluation began: 2011
Populations and employment barriers: Parents
Intervention services: Case management, Supportive services, Soft skills training, Subsidized employment, Transitional jobs, Work readiness activities, Employment coaching, Job development/job placement
Setting(s): Urban only

Effectiveness rating and effect by outcome domain

Back to top
View table help Need more context or definitions for the Outcome Domain table below? View the "Table help" to get more insight into terms, measures, and definitions.

Scroll to the right to view the rest of the table columns

Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Supported favorable $1,401 per year 0.067 1001
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $586 per year 0.028 1003
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 7% (in percentage points) 0.182 1001
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.043 1003
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term No evidence to assess support
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $-157 per year -0.057 783
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Supported favorable 3% (in percentage points) 0.067 791

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
83%
White, not Hispanic
5%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
8%
Asian
1%
Another race
2%
More than one race
1%

Implementation details

Back to top

Dates covered by study

SFTW was a new program created under a Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Enrollment for the study and the intervention occurred between November 2011 and December 2013. The study measured participant impacts at 12 and 30 months after enrollment. SFTW did not continue after the grant ended in June 2015.

Organizations implementing intervention

The YWCA of Southeastern Wisconsin implemented SFTW.

Populations served

SFTW served unemployed noncustodial parents with child support orders in Milwaukee County who also met one of the following criteria:

  • Had no high school diploma or equivalent

  • Had been actively seeking employment, were ineligible for or had exhausted unemployment insurance benefits, and had been unemployed for a period of 12 weeks before applying for the program

  • Had not had any period of continuous employment for 1 employer for a period of 4 months or more during the previous 12 months

  • Had a major barrier to employment, such as a pending criminal justice action

During the first 8 months of enrollment, SFTW’s criteria excluded individuals who had been in transitional jobs programs before, those with child support orders from other counties, and those who had worked for 3 consecutive months in the previous 18. Because of difficulties enrolling enough people, SFTW dropped these limitations.

Nearly all SFTW participants were Black men. More specifically, 97 percent were male, and 93 percent were Black or African American, not Hispanic. The average age was 35 years old. Nearly one-third (32 percent) had no high school diploma, and the vast majority of the rest (66 percent) had a high school diploma or equivalent but no college. More than half (55 percent) had been incarcerated, mostly for nonviolent offenses. All were noncustodial parents, and 95 percent had current child support orders, with an additional 4 percent having orders only for child support debt.

Description of services implemented

SFTW’s model focused on placing participants in fully subsidized transitional jobs with private employers. Other key features included case management and child support assistance. More specifically, the program components included the following:

  • Job-readiness workshop. As a first activity, participants attended a five-day workshop (reduced to three days partway through the grant period) that included a skills and interests assessment, job-readiness activities, and job-search preparation.

  • Case management. Case managers helped participants become more job ready; develop soft skills; and address barriers to work, such as a lack of clothing, transportation, or housing. They also provided referrals to necessary services. In addition, case managers served as job coaches and helped match participants to transitional jobs based on their skills and interests.

  • Transitional job. Transitional jobs were with private-sector, for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations. The jobs lasted for four months, with an optional two-month extension. Participants worked up to 30 hours per week and earned minimum wage (which at the time was $7.25 per hour), which was fully paid by the program. Participants also attended group sessions similar to a job club during this period.

  • Child support assistance. An attorney helped participants with their child support cases. For participants who finished the job-readiness workshop, the county froze the interest that they had accumulated on child support debt owed to the state, meaning that participants did not have to pay that interest while in the program, and it did not increase. The county also forgave 25 percent of the interest when participants finished the job-readiness workshop, an additional 50 percent after they completed the four-month transitional job period, and the rest when they obtained an unsubsidized job.

  • Unsubsidized job search assistance. A job developer or case manager helped participants search for unsubsidized jobs.

  • Earnings supplement. During the first six months of unsubsidized employment, the program paid a supplement to bring participants’ wages up to $10 an hour if the employer paid less.

The YWCA initially planned to provide occupational skills training to 30 percent of participants through 2 partners but did not do so as intended, in part because of staff turnover and staff focusing more on recruitment, enrollment, and placements. Only a small number of participants received training.

SFTW experienced attrition before transitional job placements, partly because of the time that elapsed before participants were placed. Early program activities and the process of matching participants with employers caused delays in placements. The YWCA took steps partway through implementation to speed up placements, including shortening the job-readiness workshop from five to three days.

Challenges in reaching enrollment targets led staff to spend more time on recruitment than intended and led the program to broaden eligibility criteria and recruitment strategies.
The job developer position was only filled intermittently, and although other staff filled in, not all participants received consistent assistance with finding an unsubsidized job.

Service intensity

Almost all SFTW enrollees (92 percent) received some services from the program, including 84 percent who received some sort of workforce preparation services. Close to two-thirds (63 percent) worked in a transitional job. Three-quarters (75 percent) received child support assistance.

The job-readiness workshop was five or three full days, depending on when it occurred during the program period. The transitional jobs were for 30 hours a week, for 4 to 6 months.
The program took steps to support engagement, including shortening the time in the workshop and running group meetings for those in the transitional jobs or unsubsidized employment search phases of the program.

Comparison conditions

Comparison group members were able to participate in other services offered through the YWCA, including a fatherhood group, career center, and FoodShare Employment and Training (Wisconsin’s SNAP Employment and Training program). Several community-based organizations in Milwaukee provided similar services, including some offering transitional jobs and child support assistance.

Partnerships

Legal Action of Wisconsin supplied the attorneys who helped with child support orders.

The Milwaukee County Department of Child Support Services forgave state-owed child support interest.

The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership and Northwest Side Community Development Corporation provided occupational training to a small number of participants.

Staffing

A program manager oversaw the intervention with the assistance of another administrator who helped manage it. There were about three case managers during most of the service period. An instructor led the job-readiness workshop. A site coordinator arranged the transitional job placements. A job developer helped participants find unsubsidized employment; however, the position was inconsistently filled.

The study authors did not include information on staff training, degrees, or certifications.

Local context

The intervention took place in Milwaukee, WI. The study noted that Milwaukee was characterized by particularly low employment rates for prime-working-age Black men, citing a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee report that found that in 2010, only slightly more than half of Black men in their prime working years were employed.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

SFTW was part of the federal Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration. The YWCA received a federal grant through this demonstration from the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Cost information

The cost to the government per participant in SFTW was about $6,971 (in 2016 dollars), which included program operations, supportive services, and participant wages. The study did not discuss a comparison of costs and benefits of SFTW.

Studies of this intervention

Back to top
Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1