• 0.14,1.00
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The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments delivered integrated, intensive retention and advancement services with participation incentives workers with low wages and reemployed dislocated workers to fill gaps in services available to them and help them advance and increase their incomes.

The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments delivered integrated, intensive retention and advancement services with participation incentives workers with low wages and reemployed dislocated workers to fill gaps in services available to them and help them advance and increase their incomes.

The program provided information about and simplified access to financial work supports, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care subsidies. Retention and advancement services included career coaching and access to training and education to stabilize participants’ employment and help them find better-paying jobs. The program helped participants secure funding for training and education costs through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and other training funds. Participants received financial incentives of up to $2,250 for maintaining employment and participating in trainings. Participants received an additional stipend to cover child care co-payments (up to $1,560), and those who were employed an in training received gas cards (up to $1,920). Participants received services for two years. 

The program focused on individuals workers with low wages and reemployed dislocated workers who had limited prior connection to government assistance programs and were therefore  considered most in need of assistance with work supports. A maximum of 50 percent of participants in each site could be Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, and individuals receiving receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) were ineligible. The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments was implemented in Dayton, OH, as the Move Up/Career Advancement Unit. The WASC Demonstration that tested the WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments also tested a version of the WASC Demonstration without incentives in Bridgeport, CT and San Diego, CA.

Year evaluation began: 2005
Populations and employment barriers: Employed
Intervention services: Case management, Academic instruction, Employment retention services, Financial incentives, Supportive services, Training, Occupational or sectoral training, On-the-job training
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 Little evidence to assess support favorable $2,196 per year 0.105 1184
Long-term Little evidence to assess support $0 per year 0.000 0
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.043 1184
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.055 1176
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Not supported favorable $-176 per year -0.064 1184
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $-22 per year -0.008 1176
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Supported favorable 7% (in percentage points) 0.143 1184

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
68%
White
27%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
1%
Unknown, not reported, or other
4%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments operated from 2005 to 2009. Evaluators enrolled study participants from fall 2005 to early 2007. Participants received WASC services and incentives for two years after enrollment. WASC staff administered a follow-up survey 12 months after enrollment to measure outcomes.

Organizations implementing intervention

The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments was implemented in a one-stop career center in Dayton, OH. Workforce development specialists and TANF staff co-located at the one-stop career center collaborated to deliver all WASC services.

Populations served

The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments recruited voluntary participants who were (1) workers earning less than $15 per hour, (2) workers with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, (3) reemployed dislocated workers with low incomes, or (4) workers who became reemployed at a lower wage than they had previously earned. TANF recipients were not eligible to participate in the intervention. A maximum of 50 percent of study participants per site could be current SNAP participants at the time of study enrollment.

The majority of participants in Dayton were female (81 percent) and a little more than half (51 percent) were single parents; the average age was 30. Sixty percent of participants had a child younger than age 6. Most participants (76 percent) reported income below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. About two-thirds (68 percent) of participants identified as Black or African American, not Hispanic, and 27 percent identified as White, not Hispanic. Thirty-eight percent of participants worked full time upon enrollment in the intervention. About 90 percent had completed high school or a GED, and 28 percent of Dayton’s WASC participants were currently enrolled in college courses toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree before joining the program.

Description of services implemented

The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments had three key program components: (1) advancement services aimed at improving work conditions and increasing earnings, wages, and employer-provided benefits; (2) work supports aimed at connecting participants to wraparound services and increase their uptake of public benefits; and (3) incentive payments that supported and motivated participants to partake in WASC services, particularly education and training, and maintain employment.

Advancement services. Participants received advancement services through career coaching and skills development.

  • Career coaching. Career coaches or navigators helped participants develop short-term and long-term advancement goals with attainable steps, administered career assessments, connected participants to potential employers through informational interviews and job opportunities, and addressed participants’ barriers to maintaining employment by helping them identify job advancement opportunities such as pursuing promotions. Coaches delivered services in participants’ homes after business hours, and during weekends to accommodate participants’ work schedules.

  • Skills development. Participants could receive classroom-based training, on-the-job training, and paid work experience. Participants also could receive individual training accounts as a form of voucher to subsidize education and training costs.

Work support services. Work support services for WASC participants consisted of education and enrollment in public benefit programs and guaranteed, subsidized child care.

  • Public benefit awareness and enrollment. WASC staff used a web-based calculator to help participants identify if they were eligible for public benefits such as SNAP, state-sponsored insurance, subsidized child care, and the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit. The calculator, called the Work Advancement Calculator, was also designed to help participants prepare for advancement, illustrating how income, earnings, and benefits change as earnings increase. WASC also simplified application forms and merged eligibility requirements for work supports across different programs and extended the recertification period for some benefits. Furthermore, WASC provided on-site, co-located public benefit caseworkers who helped participants with applications for and recertifications of work support benefits. WASC staff also provided more flexible access than typical public benefits programs because they could deliver direct services outside the office and after business hours, including evenings and weekends.

  • Subsidized child care. WASC offered participants guaranteed immediate access to subsidized child care.

Financial incentives. WASC participants in Dayton could receive up to $5,630 in incentive payments during the two-year program if they met the conditions outlined below. These payments did not count as income in determining work support eligibility.

  • Participants who enrolled in skills training, college courses for credit, or GED classes and completed the courses with a C+ grade-point average or higher received up to $800 per year during the two years. Participants received an additional $300 for completing a credential training. The average total amount participants received for a training or completion bonus was $379 because many participants did not complete the training or did not receive a certificate.

  • Participants who earned a job promotion after completing the training received $250. 

  • Participants who retained a new job for at least 9 months or who became reemployed within 45 days of their job loss earned $100.

  • Participants could receive supportive services, including a $65-per-month child care stipend for participants who maintained work, and an $80 monthly gas card for working individuals who participated in training.

The intervention featured co-located TANF staff who were trained eligibility workers with authorization to grant public benefits on-site. Offering joint work supports and advancement services helped increase uptake of public benefits and reduce stigma associated with receiving benefits. The Dayton WASC model enabled participants to call in for their SNAP benefits redetermination meeting. Allowing participants to call in rather than going in person helped increase uptake of the program, which, in turn, increased participants’ total income.

Challenges. WASC’s initial design included employer-based services provided to participants at their workplaces, but these were not implemented because it took too long to obtain buy-in from employers and employees. Also, because of recruitment challenges, the eligibility wage cap was increased from $9 to $15 per hour.

Service intensity

Participants received intervention services for up to two years. The WASC model expected that coaches would interact with at least 75 percent of their participants once every month; however, according to survey responses, only 42 percent of participants reported having interactions with their WASC career coach in Dayton in the four weeks prior to the survey. WASC’s services incorporated one-on-one interactions between the WASC coach and participant, and the program encountered challenges in arranging as many of these one-on-one meetings as intended.

Comparison conditions

Participants randomly assigned to the comparison group were not eligible to receive WASC services or incentives but could access existing services in the community.

Partnerships

The key implementation partners for the WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments were state and county workforce development and welfare agencies, such as the following:

  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

  • Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services in Ohio

Staffing

Service delivery staff for the WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments consisted of two career coaches with expertise in human services and one career coach dedicated to workforce development. A project coordinator managed the site. All staff were expected to become knowledgeable and comfortable delivering the full range of WASC services when needed. The site experienced challenges with staff turnover. High staff turnover affected the consistency and quality of services delivered to participants. The study did not include information on the training, degrees, or certifications of staff.

Local context

The intervention was implemented in an urban setting only. The WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments occurred during the economic recession in 2008. The study follow-up period from late 2005 to 2011 overlaps with the rise in unemployment, peaking above 12 percent in 2010 in Dayton, and might have impacted the study sample’s earnings and employment outcomes in follow-up years. Federal policy changes to minimum wage laws were also in effect during the intervention, increasing the minimum to $5.85 in 2007, $6.55 in 2008, and $7.25 in 2009.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

Funding sources for the WASC Demonstration with Incentive Payments included state, federal, and foundation funding. Two of these sources included federal WIA funding and the WIA Governor’s Discretionary Funds. The latter covered the incentive payments and additional training after completion of WIA-funded training.

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 1