Agenda, Scope, and Goals
Stable and competitive employment can empower marginalized populations and enable them to live more independently. Stable employment can provide people with much-needed income, help them integrate into their communities, and build their self-esteem.
Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a well-tested employment model that has proven effective in helping people with serious mental health issues achieve employment. The program model emphasizes that employment is an integral part of treatment and recovery. Through IPS, participants acquire competitive jobs of their choice through rapid job-search and job-placement services. While services under IPS are designed to have no time limits, the model emphasizes relatively quick job placement, with participants meeting with employers within a month of beginning services and job applications beginning soon after that. IPS provides ongoing assistance as needed to support job advancement and accommodations. IPS employment specialists have small caseloads that allow them to tailor services to meet the specific needs of each person. Additionally, IPS is based on strong employer connections and a team approach in which employment specialists coordinate service delivery with employers and other programs serving the participant, to ensure that employment and health services are integrated and everyone works together to support program participants.
Design, Sites, and Data Sources
Breaking Barriers San Diego (BBSD) used the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model to try to increase employment outcomes for low-income individuals with disabilities and to improve the alignment of service delivery systems within the county of San Diego. The evaluation team, led by MDRC, used a random assignment design to evaluate the BBSD program. Just over 1,000 individuals were randomly assigned over a period of two years, divided equally between program and control groups. The program group was provided regular CalWORKs and other publicly available support services, plus IPS services. The control group was provided regular CalWORKs and other publicly available support services. The research team followed both groups for about 15 months and assessed whether statistically significant differences emerged between the groups in short-term outcomes such as employment.
In addition to this impact analysis, the evaluation team conducted a cost-effectiveness study and implementation research to more fully understand the IPS model.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership operated Breaking Barriers San Diego through the American Jobs Centers of California (AJCC). BBSD staff members based in these centers operated the program, recruited individuals to participate, maintained a program management information system, and developed all necessary contacts to provide IPS services.
Data sources include a baseline survey, program participation data, and a participant survey administered about 15 months after random assignment.
BBSD is also part of in the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Low-Income Families (BEES) project, funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With BEES funding, the evaluation team will be collecting administrative records on the BBSD study sample to measure longer-term outcomes related to employment and the receipt of public benefits.