MDRC is learning what programs work best to prevent at-risk youth from getting in trouble, help juvenile offenders turn their lives around, and give reentering prisoners the chance to get a foothold in the labor market and reduce their chances of rearrest.
While we know how to help low-income individuals prepare for and find work, too many end up in low-wage jobs and never advance up the career ladder. This policy memo describes what we’ve learned about advancement strategies — both those that show promise and those that don’t work.
The 700,000 incarcerated prisoners released each year face considerable obstacles to successfully reintegrating into their communities, and many return to prison. While state and federal agencies have mounted ambitious prisoner reentry initiatives, this policy memo from our “Looking Forward” series explains that there is still much to learn about what works.
Subsidized employment programs provide jobs to people who cannot find employment in the regular labor market and use public funds to pay all or some of their wages. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes how these programs may be part of the answer for the long-term unemployed in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
CEO, a transitional jobs program for former prisoners in New York City, had its strongest effects for participants who were at highest risk of recidivism, for whom CEO reduced the probability of rearrest, the number of rearrests, and the probability of reconviction two years after entering the program.
One-Year Findings from the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration
The Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration is testing a program that provides temporary subsidized jobs, support services, and job placement help to former prisoners in four midwestern cities. This report describes how the demonstration was implemented and assesses how the transitional jobs programs affected employment and recidivism during the first year after people entered the project.
The Youth Transition Demonstration, led by Mathematica Policy Research, MDRC, and TransCen, Inc., is developing and evaluating promising strategies to help youth with disabilities become as economically self-sufficient as possible as they transition from school to work. This report offers six overall implementation lessons to help policymakers and administrators develop, fund, and provide interventions for youth with disabilities.
Built on a research review and consultation with youth policy experts, this paper makes the case for developing a menu of approaches for the heterogeneous population of disconnected youth, building knowledge about mature programs (to better understand whether they work, for whom, and why), and creating new programs that address areas of unmet need. This framework may be particularly relevant for the Administration’s newly proposed Youth Innovation Fund.
Background, Program Models, and Evaluation Evidence
Transitional jobs programs provide temporary, wage-paying jobs and other services to help individuals who have difficulty succeeding in the regular labor market. In the context of a new federal initiative to support and study these programs, this paper describes what is known about transitional jobs and offers ideas for program design and research.
What Have We Learned, What Are We Learning, and Where Should We Go from Here?
Each year, the more than 600,000 people released from prison face numerous obstacles to successful reentry into society, starting with the challenge of finding stable work. What does existing research say about the effectiveness of work-focused programs for ex-prisoners?