Catalyzed by welfare reform legislation in 1996, welfare systems across the nation shifted to a work-first approach aimed at moving recipients quickly into unsubsidized employment. Yet today, almost a decade and a half after those changes, we stillMoreCatalyzed by welfare reform legislation in 1996, welfare systems across the nation shifted to a work-first approach aimed at moving recipients quickly into unsubsidized employment.
Yet today, almost a decade and a half after those changes, we still know little about which frontline practices are most effective within the work-first framework. In particular, why are some work-first employment programs more successful at helping individuals get and keep jobs? Insights into that question can help states and localities better serve the more than two million American families currently on the welfare rolls.
This is a case study of how New York City s welfare-to-work programs were managed and implemented in the mid 2000s. It is a performance analysis, using both qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the operations and performance of 26 nonprofit and for-profit welfare-to-work programs.
The book draws on individual-level data on more than 14,000 participants, and the use of random assignment creates a natural experiment that assists in comparing program performance.The findings provide insights, based on New York Citys programs, into the unique characteristics that differentiate New York Citys welfare system from others across the country including-the broad similarities that exist among work-first employment programs in the city--whether encouraging quick placement into jobs is more or less effective than emphasizing short-term training or more intensive case management prior to placement--how the use of performance incentives may affect outcomes--differences between nonprofit and for-profit employment programs- and-the effect of frontline management, as well as broader strategic management decisions, on performance.Overall, this book sheds new light on what was happening on the ground in the welfare system and in related work programs after welfare reform.