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Study Name
Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC)—San Diego, CA
Study Sharepoint ID
Evaluation name
Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) Demonstration
Percent immigrants
Percent female
Percent Male
Percent Any postsecondary education
Percent No high school diploma or GED
Percent With a high school diploma or GED
Percent Married
Percent Single Parents
Percent Employed
Percent Asian
Percent Black or African American
Percent Hispanic or Latino of any race
Percent White not Hispanic
Percent another race
Mean age
Group formation formatted

The study randomly assigned study participants to the WASC group or to a comparison group. To be eligible for the study, participants had to be low-wage workers, or they had to have recently lost a job and been reemployed at a lower wage. Participants receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) were excluded from the study, and no more than 50 percent of participants in each site could be Food Stamp recipients. After an eligible individual consented to participate and filled out a baseline questionnaire, site staff submitted the individual’s information online to the evaluators, and an algorithm created by the evaluator performed random assignment. WASC was implemented in three locations (Dayton, OH; Bridgeport, CT; and San Diego, CA), and this review examines results for San Diego. Other reviews on this site examine the other two locations. The research sample size was 971. There were 488 participants in the WASC group and 483 in the comparison group. A survey was administered to some participants 12 months after random assignment. To be eligible for the survey, participants had to speak English or Spanish and be randomly assigned between January 2006 and June 2006 or from September 2006 through October 2007. Of the 971 participants, 821 met these eligibility criteria. Of those eligible, 722 were selected to participate in the survey.

Study timing formatted

Enrollment began in fall 2005 and continued through 2007. This report presents Year 1 through Year 4 impacts of the program on employment, earnings, and work supports receipt in San Diego, CA.

Secondary domains examined
Physical health, Mental health
Study funding formatted

Funding for the evaluation in this report came from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Earlier grants that supported this project were from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Sample Characteristics

The study recruited low-wage workers, reemployed dislocated workers, or people who fit both criteria within certain income eligibility guidelines. A majority of eligible study participants earned less than $10 per hour and had a household income below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. The study also focused on a population that had a limited prior connection to the welfare system and thus was in most need of assistance with work supports. As a result, current recipients of TANF were not eligible for enrollment into the demonstration, and current recipients of Food Stamps made up a maximum of 50 percent of the WASC sample. In San Diego, participants were, on average, 37 years old, and 73 percent of participants were women. More than two-thirds (about 70 percent) were Hispanic, and about half were single mothers and worked part time. In addition, the education levels of participants were particularly low in San Diego (relative to other WASC sites), which reflects the large number of non-U.S. citizens in the sample.

Implementing organization formatted

South County Career Center (operated by Arbor Education and Training in Chula Vista, CA)

Program history

WASC expanded the mission of one-stop career centers to include low-wage workers and therefore was more comprehensive than the existing workforce development system. Program operations in San Diego began in the fall of 2005.

Treatment condition formatted

The intervention group received services from the WASC program. The WASC delivered integrated, intensive retention and advancement services to incumbent workers. It provided information about and simplified access to financial work supports, such as the earned-income tax credit and child care subsidies. Services were offered at one-stop career centers, where workforce development and TANF staff worked together in the same unit as a team. Retention and advancement services included career coaching and access to training and education to stabilize individuals' employment and help them find better-paying jobs. The WASC model in San Diego, CA, focused mostly on career coaching for advancement in the current job, with less emphasis on vocational training. The San Diego program offered inactive participants additional incentives (gas, grocery, or gift cards) to continue with the program.

Comparison condition formatted

The comparison group received existing employment services with a focus on job placement instead of advancement for low-wage workers.

Mandatory services formatted


Timing of study formatted

WASC services were provided for two years to all participants.

Program funding formatted

Workforce Investment Act Adult Program formula funding;  Funds from evaluator

Setting details formatted

The program took place in the local one-stop career center in San Diego, CA, which was called South County Career Center. It was operated by Arbor Education and Training in Chula Vista, CA.

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