Evaluators randomly assigned a total of 4,554 single-parent Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients who were required to enroll in the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program in Grand Rapids into the LFA program, the Human Capital Development (HCD) program, or the comparison group. The random assignment occurred between September 1991 and January 1994 and followed a JOBS orientation (which not all JOBS-mandatory individuals attended, although they faced sanctions for failing to appear). AFDC recipients were exempt if they had children younger than 1, had three or more children younger than 10, were employed 30 hours or more per week, were medically unable to work, were in the last trimester of pregnancy, had resided in a mental institution at all during the previous 5 years, had been enrolled in a rehabilitation center, or were taking medication for a mental illness. Voluntary JOBS participants were not randomly assigned and were excluded from the analysis. The study included two- and five-year follow-up surveys of randomly selected individuals who were randomly assigned between March 1992 and January 1994. This review focuses on LFA versus a comparison condition in Grand Rapids; other reviews examine HCD relative to a comparison condition and HCD relative to LFA.
Individuals were randomly assigned between September 1991 and January 1994. The study reports impacts five years after random assignment.
The National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS) was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation), and by the U.S. Department of Education.
Among the 4,554 study participants (1,557 in the LFA program, 1,542 in the HCD program and 1,455 in the comparison group), nearly 96 percent were female at an average age of 28 years when the study began. More than half of the participants were White, and almost 40 percent were Black. Nearly 58 percent were never married. The average number of children was 1 to 2 per family. Almost half (46 percent) of parents had some earnings in the past 12 months, and about 11 percent were employed at random assignment. Nearly 60 percent of parents had received a high school diploma or GED, and about 29 percent of parents were enrolled in education or training in the past 12 months. More than 99 percent received some AFDC benefits at the time of random assignment.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
NEWWS aims to analyze the effectiveness of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs in seven sites across the United States.
The LFA program focused on rapid job placement. Staff encouraged clients to move quickly into work without being selective about which job to take. Staff could impose financial sanctions (by reducing welfare grant amounts) if clients did not participate in required activities. In Grand Rapids, LFA program staff first assigned clients to a job club operated by public school staff in a community education center. After two weeks, clients began applying to jobs for up to three weeks. Clients had to make 6 in-person inquiries or send 15 inquiry letters per week. People who did not find a job during this period could go on to participate in unpaid work experiences, more job searching, vocational training, or basic education. Case managers, who had limited individualized involvement with clients, emphasized monitoring participation and enforcing participation rules by sanctioning nonparticipating clients. However, they could support clients by directly paying child care providers and reimbursing transportation costs.
People in the comparison group could not receive any program services but were also not subject to participation requirements (and therefore the risk of nonparticipation sanctions) for program services or employment. These clients could, however, participate in employment-related activities available in their communities.
AFDC was decreased if clients did not comply with program requirements.
Job clubs lasted for about one month, and clients who completed job club but remained unemployed could receive multiple rounds of short-term education or vocational training for periods of nine months. The study did not specify how long the program monitored clients to examine whether a sanction should be applied to their case.
Michigan state; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The study took place in Grand Rapids, MI.