The study used a lottery-like process to randomly assign study participants to the WASC group or to a comparison group. Specifically, once an eligible individual consented to participate and filled out a baseline questionnaire, site staff submitted the individual’s information online to the evaluator, and an algorithm created by the evaluator performed random assignment. The WASC was implemented in three locations (Dayton, OH; Bridgeport, CT; and San Diego, CA), and this review examines results for Bridgeport. Other reviews on this site examine the other two locations. The research sample size was 705, with 351 people in the WASC group and 354 people in the comparison group. Random assignment occurred from fall 2006 to early 2008. The authors examined 12-month survey data and administrative data. Those eligible for the survey spoke English or Spanish and had been randomly assigned between October 18, 2006, and August 31, 2007. Of the 706 participants, 387 met these eligibility criteria. Of those eligible, 375 were randomly selected to participate in the survey.
The WASC Bridgeport study site enrolled clients from fall 2006 through early 2008. Individuals were followed for a three-year period.
Funding for the demonstration project 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.
The study recruited low-wage workers and reemployed dislocated workers with income eligibility guidelines. Eligible study participants were those who 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 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) were not eligible to enroll in the demonstration, and current recipients of Food Stamps made up a maximum of 50 percent of the sample. In Bridgeport, 67 percent of participants were women, and the average age for the full research sample at baseline was between 33 and 34 years old. The sample was 61 percent Black and 23 percent Hispanic. In addition, 72 percent of participants were single, and 56 percent had at least one child. About two-thirds worked part time, and 37 percent had some education beyond high school.
One-stop career center (Southwestern CTWorks Center)
The 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. The Bridgeport WASC site operated from October 2006 through March 2009.
The WASC program 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 welfare 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 Bridgeport, CT, focused mostly on providing access to, and funding for, vocational training. Bridgeport’s program offered access to work supports through a designated work support specialist.
Existing employment services with a focus on job placement (instead of advancement) for low-wage workers were implemented in the comparison group.
WASC services were available for two years to all intervention group members.
Southwestern CTWorks Center funds, including Workforce Investment Act (WIA) training funds and non-WIA discretionary funds.
The program took place in the Southwestern CTWorks Center in Bridgeport, CT.