Job Search Assistance Strategies Evaluation Presentation for American Public Human Services Association February 25, 2014
Discussion Goals • Introduce the importance of understanding effective job search assistance (JSA) strategies • Describe the components of JSA programs • Summarize what we know from existing research on JSA • Identify research gaps • Describe the JSA evaluation and how states might participate
Importance of Understanding JSA • JSA services are central to TANFprograms but little is known about what works best • Past rigorous studies show positive effects for JSA services when provided as part of welfare-to-work activities, but studies are dated • Type and duration of JSA that are most effective • Job search in a changing and recovering economic environment • How technology has created both opportunities and challenges for the job search process
Components of JSA Programs • Assessment • Self-directed job search • Group job search activities • One-on-one counseling • “Life skills”/resilience training • Job development/job matching
Discussion Questions • What types of JSA strategies do you use in your program? • What types of strategies would you like to expand or include?
What Do We Know about JSA? • JSA is effective at speeding entry into work • The impacts from JSA are modest. It mostly increases the speed at which people find jobs, rather than affecting the quality of jobs they attain • Some evidence that mandatory JSA (and the use of sanctions) lead primarily to reductions in cash assistance, with weaker impacts on earnings • More intensive and more personalized JSA programs do not have clearly better outcomes
Discussion Questions • What do you know about your current JSA program? • What would you like to know?
Research Objectives • High priority study to determine “what works” in providing job search assistance to TANF recipients. • Study will examine the impact of JSA program approaches TANF recipients’ short-term employment and earnings, and potentially job quality and receipt of public assistance • Results will be of great operational value to all states, but especially those that participate
Study Team • Sponsored by Administration for Children and Families, conducted by Abt Associates and Mathematica Policy Research • APHSA, Rockefeller Institute of Government, Russell Sykes Consulting, and Don Winstead Consulting are also partners
Study Approach • Evaluation Design: • Impact study will randomly assign individuals to contrasting JSA approaches and then compare employment and earnings • Implementation study will examine services received under each approach, and provide operational lessons • Sites: • Large samples are needed • Looking to implement the same JSA tests in multiple states/localities • Current activities: • Determining what JSA approaches should be tested • Identifying potential sites to participate in the evaluation
Key Tasks and Project Timeline Knowledge Development/Site Selection Random Assignment & Monitoring Implementation Study Impact Study Data Collection & Analysis
Identifying JSA Models to Test • Key factors to consider • Creating policy-relevant tests of interest to ACF, the policy community, and the field • Feasibility of implementing different JSA interventions within a single TANF agency • Feasibility of consistent implementation of treatment condition across various offices and sites • Focus on identifying common approaches as well as contrasts that are most relevant to the field • Goal is develop tests of different JSA approaches; there is no “no-service” control group
Examples of What Could be Studied • TANF applicant JSA • Self-directed JSA vs. group JSA • Self-directed JSA vs. one-on-one guided JSA • “Life skills” training • Job development services
Participating in the Study • Excellent opportunity to test an approach to JSA that you might not otherwise be able to consider • Site could be a state or individual localities • Participating locations will continue to implement their existing JSA program, but will modify or adopt a contrasting strategy and randomly assign individuals to different approaches • Evaluation team will work to minimize disruption to current operations and provide guidance and support • Financial payments to offset research-related costs
Next Steps • Conference calls with interested states/localities to: • Understand what you think is most important to learn from the evaluation • Discuss potential participation in the study • Develop tests and sites over the next several months, with the goal of implementing random assignment in early 2015 • Please contact us if you are interested in learning more!
Discussion Questions • What JSA approaches would you be most interested in learning about as part of this evaluation? • What is important for us to know from you (those operating these programs) about conducting this evaluation?
Key Contacts • Karin Martinson, Project Director, email@example.com • Michelle Derr, Co-Principal Investigator MDerr@Mathematica-Mpr.com • Cynthia Woodside, APHSA, firstname.lastname@example.org • Rachel Cook, Deputy Project Director, email@example.com