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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Williams, Sonya; Freedman, Stephen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    The national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project tested the effectiveness of over a dozen innovative programs in eight states that were intended to promote steady work and earnings growth among current and former welfare recipients — that is, recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — and other low-wage workers. The programs offered services primarily to single parents, but nine programs also offered services to adult members of two-parent families.

    This report describes the background characteristics, employment and earnings patterns, and patterns of TANF and food stamp receipt for adult members of two-parent families in the ERA sample. Not much is known about the low-income two-parent population’s need for employment retention and advancement services or about their responses to offered services. This population has particular policy relevance in that two-parent TANF cases include more family members and receive higher average monthly grants than do single-parent recipients. These families therefore require higher income (from...

    The national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project tested the effectiveness of over a dozen innovative programs in eight states that were intended to promote steady work and earnings growth among current and former welfare recipients — that is, recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — and other low-wage workers. The programs offered services primarily to single parents, but nine programs also offered services to adult members of two-parent families.

    This report describes the background characteristics, employment and earnings patterns, and patterns of TANF and food stamp receipt for adult members of two-parent families in the ERA sample. Not much is known about the low-income two-parent population’s need for employment retention and advancement services or about their responses to offered services. This population has particular policy relevance in that two-parent TANF cases include more family members and receive higher average monthly grants than do single-parent recipients. These families therefore require higher income (from employment of one or both parents) to achieve self-sufficiency. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Miller, Cynthia; Deitch, Victoria; Hill, Aaron
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    Between 2000 and 2003, the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project identified and implemented a diverse set of innovative models designed to promote employment stability and wage or earnings progression among low-income individuals, mostly current or former welfare recipients. The project’s goal was to determine which strategies could help low-wage workers stay employed and advance over time –– and which strategies seem not to work.

    Over a dozen different ERA program models have now been evaluated using experimental, random assignment research designs, and three of the programs increased single parents’ employment and earnings. This report augments the ERA project’s experimental findings by examining the work, education, and training experiences of single parents targeted by the studied programs. Although the analysis is descriptive only and cannot be used to identify the exact causes of advancement, examining the characteristics of single parents who advance and the pathways by which they do so can inform the design of the next generation of retention and...

    Between 2000 and 2003, the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project identified and implemented a diverse set of innovative models designed to promote employment stability and wage or earnings progression among low-income individuals, mostly current or former welfare recipients. The project’s goal was to determine which strategies could help low-wage workers stay employed and advance over time –– and which strategies seem not to work.

    Over a dozen different ERA program models have now been evaluated using experimental, random assignment research designs, and three of the programs increased single parents’ employment and earnings. This report augments the ERA project’s experimental findings by examining the work, education, and training experiences of single parents targeted by the studied programs. Although the analysis is descriptive only and cannot be used to identify the exact causes of advancement, examining the characteristics of single parents who advance and the pathways by which they do so can inform the design of the next generation of retention and advancement programs. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Polit, Denise F.; Nelson, Laura; Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn; Seith, David; Rich, Sarah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    The 1996 national welfare reform law imposed a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance, established stricter work requirements, and provided greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. This report — the last in a series from MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change — describes how welfare reform unfolded in Los Angeles County (particularly between 1998 and 2001) and compares welfare reform experiences and outcomes there with those in the other three Urban Change sites: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Miami- Dade County, and Philadelphia.

    After presenting a digest of the study’s findings, this summary report offers background on the Urban Change study in Los Angeles, depicts the county’s demographic and economic environment, describes the implementation of welfare reform, explains the effects of reform on welfare receipt and employment and on the lives of welfare recipients, describes what happened in Los Angeles neighborhoods during welfare reform, and concludes with policy implications drawn from conclusions from all four Urban...

    The 1996 national welfare reform law imposed a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance, established stricter work requirements, and provided greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. This report — the last in a series from MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change — describes how welfare reform unfolded in Los Angeles County (particularly between 1998 and 2001) and compares welfare reform experiences and outcomes there with those in the other three Urban Change sites: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Miami- Dade County, and Philadelphia.

    After presenting a digest of the study’s findings, this summary report offers background on the Urban Change study in Los Angeles, depicts the county’s demographic and economic environment, describes the implementation of welfare reform, explains the effects of reform on welfare receipt and employment and on the lives of welfare recipients, describes what happened in Los Angeles neighborhoods during welfare reform, and concludes with policy implications drawn from conclusions from all four Urban Change sites. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Martinez, John
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    Public housing residents are commonly thought to be harder to employ than other low-income working-age populations, but detailed evidence on their actual employment experiences and difficulties is scarce. The dearth of information can hinder efforts by policymakers and administrators to reduce the high rates of poverty, joblessness, and related social problems found in many public housing developments across the country.

    This report helps to address the information gap by analyzing data from a special survey of residents in eight public housing developments (in seven cities) with customarily high rates of joblessness and reliance on welfare. These developments have been part of the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, an ambitious research demonstration project that aims to improve residents’ employment and quality-of-life outcomes. The survey, undertaken to collect baseline data about the communities and their residents just prior to the start of the Jobs-Plus program, sheds important light on how closely...

    Public housing residents are commonly thought to be harder to employ than other low-income working-age populations, but detailed evidence on their actual employment experiences and difficulties is scarce. The dearth of information can hinder efforts by policymakers and administrators to reduce the high rates of poverty, joblessness, and related social problems found in many public housing developments across the country.

    This report helps to address the information gap by analyzing data from a special survey of residents in eight public housing developments (in seven cities) with customarily high rates of joblessness and reliance on welfare. These developments have been part of the Jobs-Plus Community Revitalization Initiative for Public Housing Families, an ambitious research demonstration project that aims to improve residents’ employment and quality-of-life outcomes. The survey, undertaken to collect baseline data about the communities and their residents just prior to the start of the Jobs-Plus program, sheds important light on how closely residents were already connected to the labor market, what kinds of jobs they obtained, and why some residents worked or looked for work less than other residents.

    Key Findings

    • The survey of residents revealed a more extensive and varied connection to the labor market than had been expected, given the very low rates of employment that characterized the public housing developments in the years prior to their selection for Jobs-Plus in the mid-1990s. Slightly more than 90 percent had worked at some point in their lives, and a majority were either currently employed or searching for work at the time of the survey.
    • Many residents who worked did so only part time, and the majority were employed in low-wage jobs paying less than $7.75 per hour and offering no fringe benefits.
    • Health status was the factor most clearly associated with residents’ engagement in the labor market. Survey respondents who described themselves as having health problems were less likely than others to have had recent work experience or to engage in job search activities.
    • Even with extensive data, it is difficult to create statistical profiles that accurately differentiate survey respondents who can be characterized as easier to employ from those who are harder to employ. Across a wide range of measures — including demographic characteristics, incidence of domestic violence, and residents’ social networks — no consistent patterns emerged to distinguish which residents were most actively and least actively involved in the labor market.

    Building on these new insights into public housing residents’ relationship to the labor market, future studies will explore how financial incentives, employment services, and the reinforcement of community supports for work can increase residents’ success in the labor market. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Polit, Denise; Widom, Rebecca; Edin, Kathryn; Bowie, Stan; London, Andrew; Scott, Ellen; Valenzuela, Abel
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    Since 1996, when Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act · the "welfare reform" law · welfare caseloads have dropped sharply, and the number of single mothers who work has grown dramatically. But how have poor mothers fared, now that they are playing by the new welfare rules and working?

    This report describes the experiences of women from poor urban neighborhoods who once relied on public assistance and entered the labor market. It presents findings from the Project on Devolution and Urban Change, a study of the implementation and effects of welfare reform in the counties encompassing four big cities: Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia. This report draws on representative survey data and in-depth ethnographic interviews from each of those sites to compare the work experiences and life circumstances of four groups of women defined by employment status and history.

    In May 1995, the 3,900 survey respondents were receiving public assistance and living in high-poverty neighborhoods. Three to four years later, they...

    Since 1996, when Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act · the "welfare reform" law · welfare caseloads have dropped sharply, and the number of single mothers who work has grown dramatically. But how have poor mothers fared, now that they are playing by the new welfare rules and working?

    This report describes the experiences of women from poor urban neighborhoods who once relied on public assistance and entered the labor market. It presents findings from the Project on Devolution and Urban Change, a study of the implementation and effects of welfare reform in the counties encompassing four big cities: Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia. This report draws on representative survey data and in-depth ethnographic interviews from each of those sites to compare the work experiences and life circumstances of four groups of women defined by employment status and history.

    In May 1995, the 3,900 survey respondents were receiving public assistance and living in high-poverty neighborhoods. Three to four years later, they were interviewed about their recent employment experiences: Three-quarters had worked in the past two years, and about half were working at the time of the interview. Respondents' stories from the ethnographic interviews are interwoven throughout the report to complement and augment the survey findings. (author abstract)

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