• 0.13,1.00
  • 0.11,5.00
  • 0.10,1.00
  • 0.13,2.00

The Grand Rapids HCD program focused on providing education and training to single-parents who were Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients to increase employment and earnings and to decrease benefit receipt.

The Grand Rapids HCD program focused on providing education and training to single-parents who were Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients to increase employment and earnings and to decrease benefit receipt.

The Grand Rapids 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 assessed 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). The program expected that most clients would complete training or educational activities within two years but approved longer durations based on participant needs. Case managers focused primarily on monitoring and enforcing participation and could impose financial sanctions for nonparticipation. Child care and transportation assistance were available.

The program’s primary population included single parents who received AFDC and 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 a child 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 in the last 5 years, (7) had been enrolled in a rehabilitation center, or (8) were taking medication for a mental illness. Grand Rapids HCD was administered 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.

Year evaluation began: 1991
Populations and employment barriers: Cash assistance recipients, Parents, Single parents
Intervention services: Education, Sanctions, Supportive services, Training, Occupational or sectoral training
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 Little evidence to assess support favorable $586 per year 0.028 2997
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable $-607 per year -0.029 2997
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 4% (in percentage points) 0.105 2997
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -1% (in percentage points) -0.033 2997
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-363 per year -0.132 2997
Long-term Supported favorable $-308 per year -0.112 2997
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Supported favorable 7% (in percentage points) 0.130 1158

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
39%
White
50%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
8%
American Indian or Alaska Native
2%
Unknown, not reported, or other
1%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

Individuals were randomly assigned between September 1991 and January 1994. The study reports impacts five years after random assignment. Most participants were expected to complete their education or training activities within two years; the study followed participants for an additional three years after the expected end of services.

Organizations implementing intervention

Grand Rapids HCD was implemented by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which was the state agency for AFDC.

Populations served

All Grand Rapids HCD study participants were single parents who received AFDC benefits and were required to enroll in the JOBS program, a welfare-to-work program that required activities such as job searching, education, and job training as part of the Family Support Act of 1988. At the time of random assignment, 96 percent of participants were female, and the average participant was 28 years old. Half of participants were White; 39 percent of participants were Black or African American, not Hispanic; and 8 percent were Hispanic. Forty-one percent of participants did not have a high school diploma or GED.

AFDC recipients were exempt from the enrollment requirement if they (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.

Description of services implemented

The HCD program focused on providing education and training to support future employment. Staff stressed that clients should spend time receiving education or training to prepare them for good jobs. The Grand Rapids HCD program included the following components:

  • In-depth assessment. HCD began with a formal group assessment in the first week, during which public school staff spent 15 hours assessing academic achievement, vocational aptitude, and career interests.
  • Basic education. Many clients participated in high school completion programs (distinct from GED classes). The state of Michigan offered funding for high school completion programs, so these programs were emphasized over GED programs.
  • Vocational training. Vocational training was offered in areas such as automotive maintenance and repair, cabinet and furniture making, and truck driving.
  • Job clubs. Job clubs were offered by a community education center and taught appropriate work behavior, job search skills, and career exploration.
  • Case management. Case managers, who had limited individualized involvement with clients, emphasized participation and enforced participation rules by requesting sanctions on nonparticipating clients. Case managers regularly visited service providers to ensure participants were attending programming. Case managers also supported clients by directly paying child care providers and reimbursing transportation costs.
  • Sanctions. Sanctions were imposed by income maintenance staff and temporarily reduced AFDC grants by $88 per month. The first time participants were sanctioned, they had to meet participation requirements for five days before a sanction was lifted. Subsequent sanctions were only lifted after 10 days of appropriate participation.

Work experience, college education, and individual job search were available but were rarely assigned.

Service intensity

Case managers expected that most clients would complete training or educational activities within two years, but they could approve a longer duration based on client needs. The study did not specify how long the program monitored clients to confirm that they participated in required activities.

Of the participants assigned to Grand Rapids HCD, 67 percent participated in any HCD activity, 14 percent participated in job search, and 58 percent participated in any education or training. Those who participated engaged in JOBS activities for an average of six months.

Comparison conditions

The comparison group for this study was randomly assigned. People in the comparison group could not receive any program services but were also not subject to program participation requirements (and therefore were not at risk of nonparticipation sanctions). These clients could, however, participate in employment-related activities available in their communities if they chose to pursue them.

Partnerships

A community education center provided job clubs. Adult education programs were primarily provided by state and local educational institutions (though some participants attended programming at a for-profit learning center). Job Training Partnership Act agencies, public schools, and community colleges offered vocational training.

Staffing

Case managers developed participants’ service plans, provided supportive services, monitored participation, and requested that sanctions be imposed or lifted. They had about 10 years of work experience and about 6 years of experience in their current position, on average, and they all held bachelor’s degrees. They did not receive formal training on the JOBS program, though supervisors explained policies and procedures to new staff. Case managers’ average caseload was 120 participants.

Income maintenance staff were authorized to impose and remove sanctions and referred individuals to the program. Their average caseload was 152 cases. On average, they had worked in their positions for 5.5 years. Less than one-third (30 percent) held a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Teachers in the Adult Education programs had an average of eight years of experience.

The study authors did not include information on the number of staff.

Local context

Grand Rapids HCD took place in Grand Rapids, MI. In 1993, the county unemployment rate was 5.5 percent. Grand Rapids averaged an AFDC caseload of 7,508, and the AFDC monthly grant was $474 for a family of 3. This grant amount was above the national median.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

Grand Rapids HCD was funded by the state of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Education programs were typically funded by state and local education departments.

Cost information

HCD cost $10,727 per participant, including $3,582 in postsecondary education, $2,589 in basic education, and $2,018 in vocational training costs. Program services for the comparison group were estimated to be $6,953 per participant, so services for HCD participants cost an additional $3,773 per participant. The study did not discuss a comparison of costs and benefits of the program.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1