To help participants secure jobs that could lead to economic self-sufficiency, the HCD program implemented in Grand Rapids, MI, focused on providing education and training to single parents who were Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients.
The HCD program stressed that participants should spend time receiving education or training to prepare for good jobs. The program began with a 15-hour, week-long formal assessment component, during which public school staff conducted assessments of participants’ achievement, aptitude, and career interests. Participants then usually completed either high school completion programs (distinct from GED classes) or vocational training. If participants did not have a high school diploma or GED, the program provided basic education classes in the public school system to help participants make progress toward their goals (such as increasing their literacy level or obtaining a GED certificate). Case managers had limited individualized involvement with participants, but they emphasized participation and enforced participation rules by sanctioning nonparticipating clients through reducing their welfare grant amounts. They also supported clients by directly paying child care providers and reimbursing transportation costs. The program expected that most clients would complete training or educational activities within two years but approved longer durations based on participant needs.
The program focused on single-parent AFDC recipients who were required to enroll in the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills program. AFDC recipients were exempt from the enrollment requirement if they met any of the following: (1) had children younger than 1, (2) had 3 or more children younger than 10, (3) were employed 30 hours or more per week, (4) were medically unable to work, (5) were in the last trimester of pregnancy, (6) had resided in a mental institution at all during the previous 5 years, (7) had been enrolled in a rehabilitation center, or (8) were taking medication for a mental illness. The HCD program was implemented in Grand Rapids, MI. Similar HCD programs were implemented and tested in Atlanta, GA, and Riverside, CA. All three HCD programs were examined as part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies that evaluated and compared the effectiveness of two distinct strategies for AFDC recipients: HCD and Labor Force Attachment (LFA). HCD focused on providing education and training as a precursor to employment, whereas LFA focused on placing people into jobs quickly to build work habits and skills.