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Transitional Work Corporation/Success Through Employment Preparation
Last registered on March 30, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Transitional Work Corporation/Success Through Employment Preparation
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002087
Initial registration date
March 29, 2017
Last updated
March 30, 2017 3:09 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
MDRC
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2004-10-01
End date
2011-12-15
Secondary IDs
Abstract
As welfare caseloads have declined over the past decade, policymakers and administrators have focused increasingly on long-term and hard-to-employ recipients who have not made a stable transition from welfare to work. Many of these recipients face serious barriers to employment, such as physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, and limited work and educational backgrounds. This study evaluated two different welfare-to-work strategies for hard-to-employ recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Philadelphia. The study is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is testing innovative employment strategies for groups facing serious obstacles to finding and keeping a steady job. The project is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is being conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, along with the Urban Institute and other partners.

The first approach being tested is a transitional jobs model that was operated by the Transitional Work Corporation (TWC). TWC quickly placed recipients who were referred by the welfare agency into temporary, subsidized jobs; provided work-related supports; and then, building on this work experience, helped participants look for permanent jobs. The second model, called “Success Through Employment Preparation” (STEP), aimed to assess and address participants’ barriers to employment — such as health problems or inadequate skills — before they went to work.

The evaluation uses a rigorous design in which nearly 2,000 long-term and potential long-term welfare (TANF) recipients were assigned at random either to TWC or STEP or to a control group that did not participate in either program. The research team followed all three groups for four years, using surveys and administrative data. Results show that:

-- Early in the follow-up period, the TWC program group members had significantly higher employment rates than the control group members, but the difference faded, and the groups had similar outcomes beyond the first year. The TWC group also received significantly less welfare assistance in the first year and a half of follow-up, but these impacts also did not last.

-- Recipients who were assigned to the STEP program did not work or earn more, or receive less welfare, than the control group. The results may have been affected by the fact that many people who were assigned to STEP did not participate in the program for long periods.

The results suggest some fairly clear patterns. The TWC program substantially increased employment in the short term, but this and other studies suggest that, in order to sustain impacts, short-term transitional jobs programs need to help more people obtain and retain permanent jobs. The STEP program did not increase employment, adding to a growing body of evidence suggesting that it can be difficult to engage welfare recipients in extensive preemployment services long enough to significantly improve their employability.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Valentine, Erin Jacobs. 2017. "Transitional Work Corporation/Success Through Employment Preparation." AEA RCT Registry. March 30. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2087-1.0.
Former Citation
Valentine, Erin Jacobs. 2017. "Transitional Work Corporation/Success Through Employment Preparation." AEA RCT Registry. March 30. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2087/history/15603.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The project tested two service models that took different approaches to increasing the employment and earnings of hard-to-employ welfare recipients. The first approach was a transitional jobs model, which provided subsidized employment for up to six months, combined with education and work-readiness activities, job search assistance, and job retention services. The second approach was a preemployment services model that provided intensive case management and focused on assessing participants’ barriers to employment and providing services to help them overcome these barriers up front, or before they looked for work. Both models grew out of programs that were already operating in Philadelphia and that administrators felt showed promise in assisting more disadvantaged recipients to make the transition from welfare to permanent work. The transitional jobs program was operated by the Transitional Work Corporation (TWC), and the preemployment services model (called “Success Through Employment Preparation,” or STEP) was operated by JEVS Human Services.
Intervention Start Date
2004-10-15
Intervention End Date
2007-05-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Employment, earnings, income, welfare receipt
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The study includes three main components: an implementation and process study that examines how the TWC and STEP programs operated, an impact analysis that assesses whether the programs were effective in promoting employment and reducing welfare receipt, and a cost analysis.

The study targeted TANF recipients in four welfare offices who had received cash assistance for at least 12 months since 1997 or who did not have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. The study did not include “U” cases (usually two-parent cases), recipients who
were exempt from work requirements or had good cause not to participate, and recipients who were currently employed. Intake workers screened TANF applicants to determine whether they met the study criteria and ongoing TANF recipients who were not participating in a work activity.

A research aide then randomly assigned recipients to one of the two program groups or to the control group via a Web-based system or the telephone. Approximately three of every eight sample members were assigned to the TWC group; three of eight were assigned to the STEP group; and two of eight were assigned to the control group. Recipients who were placed in one of the program groups were referred by DPW staff to the appropriate program — TWC or STEP — and were required to participate. Control group recipients were given a list of community resources, and staff were instructed to encourage — but not require — them to participate in work activities; that is, control group members were supposed to be considered exempt from work requirements.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Web-based system or telephone
Randomization Unit
individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
n/a
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,942 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
486 individuals control; 731 individuals TWC; 725 individuals STEP
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
May 31, 2007, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
March 31, 2010, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1,942 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
486 individuals control; 731 individuals TWC; 725 individuals STEP
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Yes
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Abstract
As welfare caseloads have declined over the past decade, policymakers and administrators have focused increasingly on long-term and hard-to-employ recipients who have not made a stable transition from welfare to work. Many of these recipients face serious barriers to employment such as physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, and limited work and educational backgrounds.

This report presents interim results from an evaluation of two different welfare-to-work strategies for hard-to-employ recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Philadelphia. The study is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is testing innovative employment strategies for groups facing serious obstacles to finding and keeping a steady job. The project is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is being conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, along with the Urban Institute and other partners.

The first approach being tested is a transitional jobs model operated by the Transitional Work Corporation (TWC). TWC quickly places participants into temporary, subsidized jobs; provides work-related supports; and then, building on this work experience, helps participants look for permanent jobs. The second model, called Success Through Employment Preparation (STEP), aims to assess and address participants’ barriers to employment — such as health problems or inadequate skills — before they go to work.

The evaluation uses a rigorous design in which nearly 2,000 long-term and potential long-term welfare (TANF) recipients were assigned at random to TWC or STEP, or to a control group that did not participate in either program. The research team is following all three groups over time using surveys and administrative data. Results for the first 18 months show that:

-- The TWC program group members had significantly higher employment rates and earnings than the control group members, but the difference faded after the first year of follow-up. When earnings from transitional jobs and unsubsidized jobs are combined, the TWC group earned about $1,000 (26 percent) more than the control group, on average, and received significantly less welfare assistance. The earnings gains and welfare reductions largely offset one another, however, leaving the two groups with about the same total income.

-- Recipients who were assigned to the STEP program did not work or earn more, or receive less welfare, than the control group. The results may have been affected by the fact that many people who were assigned to STEP did not participate in the program for long periods.

A later report will present results over a three-year period, but these interim results suggest some fairly clear patterns. The TWC program substantially increased employment in the short term, but this and other studies suggest that, in order to sustain impacts, transitional job programs need to help more people obtain and retain permanent jobs. The STEP program has not increased employment so far, adding to a growing body of evidence suggesting that it can be difficult to engage welfare recipients in extensive pre-employment services long enough to significantly improve their employability.
Citation
Bloom, Dan, Sarah Rich, Cindy Redcross, Erin Jacobs, Jennifer Yahner, and Nancy Pindus. 2009. Alternative Welfare-to-Work Strategies for the Hard-to-Employ: Testing Transitional Jobs and Pre-Employment Services in Philadelphia. New York: MDRC.
Abstract
As welfare caseloads have declined over the past decade, policymakers and administrators have focused increasingly on long-term and hard-to-employ recipients who have not made a stable transition from welfare to work. Many of these recipients face serious barriers to employment, such as physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, and limited work and educational backgrounds. This report presents final results from an evaluation of two different welfare-to-work strategies for hard-to-employ recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Philadelphia. The study is part of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project, which is testing innovative employment strategies for groups facing serious obstacles to finding and keeping a steady job. The project is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is being conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, along with the Urban Institute and other partners.

The first approach being tested is a transitional jobs model that was operated by the Transitional Work Corporation (TWC). TWC quickly placed recipients who were referred by the welfare agency into temporary, subsidized jobs; provided work-related supports; and then, building on this work experience, helped participants look for permanent jobs. The second model, called “Success Through Employment Preparation” (STEP), aimed to assess and address participants’ barriers to employment — such as health problems or inadequate skills — before they went to work.

The evaluation uses a rigorous design in which nearly 2,000 long-term and potential long-term welfare (TANF) recipients were assigned at random either to TWC or STEP or to a control group that did not participate in either program. The research team followed all three groups for four years, using surveys and administrative data. Results show that:
-- Early in the follow-up period, the TWC program group members had significantly higher employment rates than the control group members, but the difference faded, and the groups had similar outcomes beyond the first year. The TWC group also received significantly less welfare assistance in the first year and a half of follow-up, but these impacts also did not last.


-- Recipients who were assigned to the STEP program did not work or earn more, or receive less welfare, than the control group. The results may have been affected by the fact that many people who were assigned to STEP did not participate in the program for long periods.

The results suggest some fairly clear patterns. The TWC program substantially increased employment in the short term, but this and other studies suggest that, in order to sustain impacts, short-term transitional jobs programs need to help more people obtain and retain permanent jobs. The STEP program did not increase employment, adding to a growing body of evidence suggesting that it can be difficult to engage welfare recipients in extensive preemployment services long enough to significantly improve their employability.
Citation
Jacobs, Erin, and Dan Bloom. 2011. Alternative Employment Strategies for Hard-to-Employ TANF Recipients: Final Results from a Test of Transitional Jobs and Preemployment Services in Philadelphia. OPRE Report 2011-19. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS