This report describes the early implementation of the Ramsey County, Minnesota, Lifelong Learning Initiative (LLI). The LLI uses a goal-oriented approach to help recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, known as the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), set their own employment-focused goals and break them into smaller, manageable, and achievable tasks. It is based on research suggesting that chronic stress associated with living in poverty can hinder the development of planning, decisionmaking and organizational skills, sometimes broadly defined as executive skills (Blair and Raver, 2016). The LLI aims to help recipients develop these executive skills as they work towards positive employment outcomes.
Overall, the study found that most elements of Ramsey County’s LLI were well-implemented and viewed favorably by staff, although it took a significant investment in developing the initiative and training staff. As it is a new approach, Ramsey County continues to make refinements and adjustments to their program. Additional research and evaluation is needed to determine the effectiveness of this approach and the extent to which the approach results in improved employment and earnings and family well-being. (Edited author overview)