The HPOG programs aimed to recruit TANF recipients and other low-income individuals. Each program could define "low-income." Most programs also required individuals to have some minimal level of basic skills, and many conducted criminal background checks and evaluated applicants' interests and skills to determine eligibility. Eligible individuals were randomly assigned to intervention and comparison groups from March 2013 through November 2014. At 3 of 23 HPOG grantees (including 3 of 42 HPOG programs), individuals were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 study groups: a comparison group not eligible for HPOG services, a group eligible to receive standard HPOG services plus the peer support group, and a group eligible to receive standard HPOG services only. This review examines the contrast of the group eligible to receive enhanced services (the intervention group) and the group eligible to receive standard HPOG services (the comparison group). Other reviews on this site examine the effects of alternative service enhancements, and the contrast between all individuals in the intervention group and all individuals assigned to comparison groups across the 23 grantees.
The study randomly assigned participants between March 2013 through November 2014 and collected data 15 months later.
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation; Administration for Children and Families; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
HPOG programs aimed to recruit TANF recipients and other low-income individuals. Across all 42 programs, 89 percent of study participants were female, 63 percent had one or more children, and 84 percent were not married. About one-quarter (24 percent) were Hispanic, and about one-third (34 percent) were Black and not Hispanic. The average age was 32. At baseline, 12 percent of participants lacked a high school diploma or equivalent certification, whereas 20 percent had a postsecondary degree or certificate. Forty-three percent were working, and 26 percent were in school. Fifty-six percent received the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and 13 percent received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Three grantees participated in the test of standard HPOG enhanced with facilitated peer support groups: The WorkPlace (Connecticut), the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health, and the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Development Consortium (New York).
Programs received grants about two and a half years before the study began. Many HPOG grantees had a long history of providing employment and training services.
Individuals in the intervention group could access the standard HPOG program services, which included a range of education and training courses and supportive services, as well as peer support groups facilitated by a professional familiar with adult learning theory and the HPOG program. Meetings covered available HPOG and community resources and challenges that participants might face in HPOG. They could also include study group sessions or social events. Programs were permitted to offer incentives for attendance, such as food at meetings or gift cards.
The comparison group could access all standard HPOG services but could not access the facilitated peer support groups.
Programs could make participation in peer support groups mandatory for the receipt of HPOG services.
Across all 42 HPOG programs, trainings ranged greatly in length, from 6 weeks to 4 years. Most individuals enrolled in short-term programs (six to eight weeks), but the career pathways approach encourages individuals to enroll in multiple programs over time.
Administration for Children and Families; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The study took place in Erie County, NY; Bridgeport, CT; and New Hampshire.