Jobs-First GAIN emphasized a rapid employment strategy to help recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) improve their earnings and employment outcomes. 

Jobs-First GAIN emphasized a rapid employment strategy to help recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) improve their earnings and employment outcomes. 

The Jobs-First GAIN program began with a six-hour motivational meeting followed by job clubs, which were classroom sessions focused on participants’ job application techniques and a supervised job search. Participants were encouraged to take any job offer received, including low-wage positions. Job clubs lasted three weeks, but further job development services were available until the recipient found work, exited the welfare system, or both. Jobs-First GAIN focused on AFDC recipients. The Jobs-First GAIN evaluation took place in Los Angeles County, CA.

Year evaluation began: 1996
Populations and employment barriers: Parents, Cash assistance recipients
Intervention services: Education, Training, Occupational or sectoral training, Work experience, Work readiness activities, Job search assistance, Job development/job placement
Setting(s): Tested in multiple settings

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 $1,234 per year 0.06 20731
Long-term Supported favorable $2,573 per year 0.12 20731
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 9% (in percentage points) 0.21 20731
Long-term Supported favorable 6% (in percentage points) 0.15 20731
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-292 per year -0.11 20731
Long-term Supported favorable $-382 per year -0.14 20731
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

Jobs-First GAIN began in 1988 and most features of the program continue today under CalWORKS, California’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. Evaluators studied the Jobs-First GAIN Program from April 1996 to March 1998. Evaluators estimated impacts after one year and after two years of the program.

Organizations implementing intervention

Jobs-First GAIN is implemented by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (LA DPSS), which was the county’s AFDC agency.

Populations served

As the intervention was conducted during the AFDC era, the population served was a population of AFDC recipients. AFDC recipients were mandated to participate unless they had a disabling illness, were employed 30 or more hours per week, lived in a remote area that made program activities inaccessible, or if they were in their last trimester of pregnancy. Single parents that received AFDC were also exempt if they had a child under younger than 3. Individuals could volunteer for the program, but these participants were not included in the evaluation.

The single-parent household intervention group was 45 percent Hispanic, 31 percent African-American, 17 percent non-Hispanic white, and 6 percent Asian. Seven percent of this group identified as male while 93 percent of the group identified as female.

The two-parent household intervention group was 46 percent Hispanic, 28 percent non-Hispanic white, 20 percent Asian (primarily Indochinese), and 5 percent African American. Fifty-three percent of this group identified as male while 47 percent of this group identified as female.

Description of services implemented

The Jobs-First GAIN program began with a six-hour motivational meeting that emphasized a message to rapidly secure work first, followed by an individual meeting with a case manager. Participants then attended job clubs, run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), for three weeks. These were classroom sessions focused on participants’ job application techniques. After the job club, participants conducted up to two weeks of supervised job searching, with the assistance of Jobs-First GAIN staff, using job listings and agency phone banks. Participants were encouraged to take any job they were offered, including low-wage positions. Further job development services were available until the recipient found work, exited the welfare system, or both.

All Jobs-First GAIN participants attended the initial six-hour meeting, but relatively few participants (30 to 38 percent) engaged with employment-related activities after attending orientation. Of the individuals that did participate in employment-related activities, most participated in only the job club, and most participated in only one of the three weeks of job club. About 70 percent of participants received warnings that their grant might be reduced for nonattendance within the first year after entering the program.

Service intensity

Participants were expected to attend a 6-hour orientation, followed by 3 weeks of job clubs, and then 10 days of supervised job searching. Job clubs took place 5 days per week. By the end of each day of supervised job searching, each participant was expected to make at least 50 phone calls to employers, find at least 5 job opening leads, and either schedule or attend 3 interviews. Although service uptake was relatively low after orientation, study authors indicated that exposure to the “work first” message and Work Pays incentives might have encouraged individuals to find jobs on their own. In addition, DPSS administrators asserted that the mandatory participation requirements pushed participants to let staff know when they found employment.

Comparison conditions

The comparison group members for the evaluation were unable to receive the Jobs-First GAIN services but were eligible to receive cash assistance and Food Stamp payments, could seek other services in the community, and could receive child care assistance from DPSS for employment-related programs they signed up for on their own. Comparison group members were also eligible for Work Pays, which allowed welfare recipients who found a job to continue receiving welfare benefits and stay eligible for Medicaid. However, evaluators found that it was unlikely that many of the comparison group participants knew about this program.

Partnerships

The LACOE partnered with LA DPSS to design and operate job clubs for the participants.

Staffing

Jobs-First GAIN participants worked with income maintenance workers, LACOE staff, job developers, and case managers.

  • Income maintenance workers managed the financial aspects of a participant’s case and were responsible for evaluating if an individual should be required to enroll in the program.
  • LACOE staff facilitated the job clubs, providing participants with instruction on job application techniques.
  • Job developers cultivated relationships with local employers to create lists of available jobs and then worked to assess and match participants to positions. They would also arrange mini job fairs with a few employers at a time to facilitate the job matching process.
  • Case managers encouraged participants to engage with program activities and could reduce a participant’s grant for not meeting program requirements.

The evaluation did not include information on the number of staff or their training, degrees, or certifications.

Local context

Jobs-First GAIN took place in Los Angeles County, CA. This program was the largest county welfare-to-work program in the country and served the most populous county in the nation at the time.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

Jobs-First GAIN is funded by LA DPSS. This funding was made possible through a waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that raised the income limit for participants to continue receiving government assistance.

Cost information

The study authors conducted a cost-benefit analysis and determined that single-parent participants of Jobs-First GAIN received a small financial gain from participating and returned substantial savings to the government. For two-parent households, participants either broke even or incurred a small financial loss, but the government experienced substantial savings. Evaluators calculated total costs for participants, which included the cost to DPSS and outside providers as well as the cost of operating activities that participants attended outside of Jobs-First GAIN. The two-year cost of running the program for single parents for the intervention group was $4,305 (in 1998 dollars) per person compared with the comparison group cost per person of $2,900. The two-year cost of running the program for two-parent households was $2,485 per person in the intervention group versus $1,170 per person in the comparison group.

Studies of this Intervention

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Study Quality Rating Study Counts per Rating
High High 2