Many hard-to-employ families with low incomes face one or more of the following obstacles to finding and sustaining employment: low basic skills, limited work experience, health problems, or a criminal record. The Hard-to-Employ demonstration was designed to field and evaluate a variety of innovative ways to boost employment, reduce welfare receipt, and promote well-being in this population.
Each of the sites in the demonstration targeted a segment of the hard-to-employ population, such as individuals leaving prison, those in need of mental health treatment, or those who would benefit from a “two-generation” intervention. The following four sites participated in this project:
- Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), New York City. Parolees who were mandated to work as a condition of parole were placed in paid transitional employment at one of several dozen worksites around the city for two to three months, followed by job placement into unsubsidized jobs. The program also included a fatherhood program, employer-driven skills training programs, a greater focus on postplacement retention services, and job coaching.
- Rhode Island Mental Health Evaluation. The target population for this intervention was working-age parents who were on Medicaid and had undiagnosed depression. An enhanced treatment group received intensive telephonic outreach and follow-up from managed care case managers to encourage participation in mental health treatment. The program provided access to employment services as well.
- Kansas and Missouri Early Head Start (EHS). Aimed at poor families who had children four years old or younger or a baby on the way, and who were interested in receiving EHS, this “two-generation” intervention sought to enhance the link between the TANF employment and EHS child development programs. The children in the program group were enrolled in EHS services and the parents received home visits to establish and work toward self-sufficiency goals.
- Alternative Employment Strategies for Long-Term Welfare Recipients in Philadelphia. This study tested two employment strategies — paid transitional employment (provided by the Transitional Work Corporation) and upfront barrier removal services (provided by Jewish Employment and Vocational Services).