When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.
Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
Current Policy, Prominent Programs, and Evidence
This paper reviews the available evidence supporting various types of career and technical education programs, touching on both the amount of evidence available in each area and its level of rigor.
Final Impacts and Costs of New York City’s Young Adult Internship Program
This report presents 30-month impacts from a random assignment evaluation of a program that subsidized employers to offer temporary paid jobs to young people who were disconnected from school and work in New York City. After 30 months, program enrollees and nonenrollees fared similarly, with the former slightly more likely to report employment.
Career pathways programs, which equip high school students with the academic, technical, and “soft” skills they need to succeed, can also help meet local employer demand for skilled workers. This issue focus introduces one such initiative that uses paid internships to help students gain a foothold in a high-wage industry.
Testing a New Approach to Increase Employment Advancement for Low-Skilled Adults
This policy brief discusses a new skills-building model designed to help low-income adults prepare for, enter, and succeed in quality jobs, in high-demand fields with opportunities for career growth. WorkAdvance uses strategies found in sector-based employment programs, combined with career coaching after participants are placed into jobs.
Implementation and Final Impacts of the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) Demonstration
WASC sought to increase the incomes of low-wage workers by stabilizing employment, improving skills, increasing earnings, and easing access to work supports. The program increased workers’ receipt of work supports. In the two sites that eased access to funds for training, WASC increased the receipt of certificates and licenses and increased earnings in the third year.
Implementing the Fort Worth Work Advancement and Support Center Program
This report examines the design and operation of a program called Project Earn, in Fort Worth, Texas, one of four sites in MDRC’s Work Advancement and Support Center demonstration. The program combined two types of income-building services for low-wage workers — skills training and connection to work supports, such as food stamps, child care subsidies, and tax credits — and delivered them in workplaces in collaboration with employers.
Evidence from the WASC Demonstration
Although many states are taking steps to offer simplified access to the food stamp program, little is known about the effect this might have on food stamp error rates. This paper studies the effects on error rates in two sites that were part of the Work Advancement Support Center demonstration, which aimed to help individuals in low-income jobs boost their income by making the most of available work supports, including food stamps.
Lessons for Practitioners
This 12-page brief distills practical implementation lessons from four programs that help low-wage workers access and retain child care subsidies, public health insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and other related government benefits.