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Evaluating Tulsa’s Two-Generation CareerAdvance ® Program: Focus Group Findings Tara Smith Ray Marshall Center, LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University.

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Presentation on theme: "Evaluating Tulsa’s Two-Generation CareerAdvance ® Program: Focus Group Findings Tara Smith Ray Marshall Center, LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Evaluating Tulsa’s Two-Generation CareerAdvance ® Program: Focus Group Findings Tara Smith Ray Marshall Center, LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Alliance for Early Success meeting: Bridging Policies for Young Children and Families Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, Washington, D.C. June 2, 2014

2 Acknowledgements Research Team Christopher King and team at The University of Texas at Austin’s Ray Marshall Center Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Teresa Eckrich Sommer, and team at Northwestern University Hirokazu Yoshikawa, New York University Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia University Funders Health Professions Opportunity Grant, Administration for Children & Families George Kaiser Family Foundation WK Kellogg Foundation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

3 Overview of CareerAdvance®  2-generation program operated by the Community Action Project of Tulsa County (CAP-Tulsa)  Intentionally and simultaneously connects high quality Head Start/Early Head Start programs with evidence- based job training and adult education programs and family support services  Key components: cohort-based career pathways model; customized training schedule based around child’s school calendar; regular peer group meetings facilitated by a Career Coach; conditional cash/in-kind incentives; and wrap-around supports for families

4 CareerAdvance® Evaluation  Building a broad evidence base for two- generation models emphasizing human capital investments  Multiple research components:  Implementation Study ( )  Examines program development and participant progress over time  Supports program improvement efforts  CAP Family Life Study ( )  Quasi-experimental, mixed methods evaluation of long- term outcomes and impacts for parents and children

5 Implementation Study  Research Questions  How has CareerAdvance® changed over time and why?  What progress have CareerAdvance® participants made?  What program and institutional factors contribute to or impede participant progress?  Data Sources  Participant focus group sessions  Interviews with CareerAdvance® staff and staff of partner education/training providers  Analysis of program records

6 Focus Group Research  Sessions based on participant career training step and cohort are held twice annually near the end of each fall and spring semester  Key discussion topics include:  Prior education/training experiences  Motivation for joining/continuing the program  Program Components:  Peer Supports  Role of the Career Coach  Financial incentives  Coordinated scheduling  Balancing family/school/work/home responsibilities  Role modeling for children

7 Prior Experiences  I didn’t graduate from high school – how long was I going to let that weigh me down?  I tried school before joining CareerAdvance® but couldn’t manage everything.  When I tried college before, I got burned out. I took too many classes to do well in any of them. No one told me I was taking too much.  I tried school before, but had no direction. There were too many choices and I didn’t know what classes to take or what was required. This time, having the choices narrowed down, having a goal, is helping me go forward.

8 Motivation and Self-Confidence  I’ve been out of school for so long; it’s different now – I’m actually focused on school this time. I’m more willing to talk to the teacher and I’m not worried about [negative] peer pressure.  I don’t want to be stuck in just another job; I want a career.  I stopped using my personal drama as an excuse to not do things for myself.  Getting that first ‘A’ really proved it to myself; I know I can do this.  It made me feel good to have to get up and do something.

9 Peer Support Component  It’s nice; we are all on the same level. We are all moms; struggling financially, physically, emotionally. It’s nice to know we are all here for the same reason and we will get each other to the end.  We keep each other going.  My cohort showed me that there are women out there just like me. We all had the same story. I was so scared and nervous at first. Now I know that you just have to put in the work and keep motivated.

10 Career Coach Component  She is always there; she keeps motivating us. We aren’t alone.  [The coaches] help you recognize that you have to do something for yourself, not just your kids.  She is like your mom. You don’t want to listen, but you know she has your best interest at heart.  I was going to give up but the coaches wouldn’t let me.

11 Financial Incentive Component  I strive to get to class so that I can earn my reward for doing good.  It helps keep us accountable for every day.  [When I tried school before] there was nothing to motivate you to show up. Here there is the incentive and the gas card to encourage us.  Don’t plan on the incentive; don’t spend it before you get it.

12 Scheduling Component  It was manageable because it … worked with our kids’ schedules too.  If I didn’t have daycare, I wouldn’t be in school.  I have an advantage in that I don’t have to take my baby from the CAP site at a certain time so I have more time to stay home and do homework before picking her up.  We love the fact that we have classes during the same times that our kids are in school; that helps tremendously.

13 Balancing Responsibilities  I tell my kids it is easier to go to college after high school than to try to do what I’m doing and juggle everything later on.  I can’t even get laundry done, much less work.  I know this [CareerAdvance®] is good for me in the future but right now he [my son] needs me.”  Because of me doing [CareerAdvance®], my kids got the perfect attendance award at school for the first time.  Time is more precious now, definitely.

14 Role Modeling  My son’s …in the third grade and I think [my being in CareerAdvance®] helped him because he’ll come and say I hate doing this [homework]…and I’ll be like, you know what? I’ve got a class I don’t like either, but I gotta stay here and I gotta read this book and I gotta do this assignment because I have to take this class. And you have to take your class and so …at least for him I’m able to be like a role model [and say] you still have to study. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the class. You still have to try your best.

15 Summary  Most participants, including those who exit the program early, are highly appreciative of the opportunity and of CAP-Tulsa.  Most participants report that they see lasting changes for themselves and their families as a result of CareerAdvance® participation.  Synchronized schedules for parents and children can help relieve stress and improve attendance.  Balancing family/school/work/home responsibilities is critical for longer-term engagement.  Participants are proud to be a good role model for their children and show them that school is important.


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