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Winning New Jobs: A Welfare-to-Work Success Story in Baltimore County, Maryland Max Elsman, Job Network Administrator.

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Presentation on theme: "Winning New Jobs: A Welfare-to-Work Success Story in Baltimore County, Maryland Max Elsman, Job Network Administrator."— Presentation transcript:

1 Winning New Jobs: A Welfare-to-Work Success Story in Baltimore County, Maryland Max Elsman, Job Network Administrator

2 2 Portrait of Baltimore County Population: 754,000 74.4% white; 20.1% African- American; 1.8% Latino; 3.2% Asian Jobless rate: 4.5% Major industries: Trade, transportation, utilities; professional and business services; education and health care; government Poverty rate: 4.5%

3 3 The Problem in a Nutshell Source: Job Opportunities Task Force, Fall 2003

4 4 WNJ: Part of “From the Ground Up” A $3 million, three-year demonstration project funded by the state but only in Baltimore Co. Project was two years behind schedule by 1999 No director Had lost direction Project creators had left for other jobs I was given a blank slate, money to spend, and an impending deadline. Had to act quickly. These factors allowed us an unusual amount of creative freedom

5 5 TANF Welfare-to-Work Strategy “Work-first” approach (due to low unemployment rate) Immediate engagement at TANF application Four weeks of structured, up-front job search More intensive services thereafter Special program for the disabled Full family sanction and quick enforcement for noncompliance

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7 7 Attractive Features of WNJ Only such program backed by control group research Considered a model program by MDRC Not just another “job search class,” but a sophisticated therapeutic model targeting common mental/emotional problems Highly structured, therefore replicable Short-term intervention (though we added three weeks) Doesn’t require credentialed staff to operate Positive rather than punitive Intensive training offered by Umich

8 8 Job Network Outcomes: FY2003 856 job placements (44% of enrollees) Starting wage: $8.30 per hour Average weekly hours: 34 Percentage of jobs with benefits: 58% Caseload decline highest in state by a factor of four. Total caseload down 73% since January 1997. Placement rate and wages have risen for three straight years

9 9 WNJ in Action (Theory vs Practice) Effects on clients are consistent: Participants obviously feel better on Friday than they did on Monday. However, attrition is high: 30% during first week; about 75% by week four. Many get jobs; more quit. WNJ principles are a wellspring for staff as well. Morale remains good; turnover low. Strong belief in doing things “the WNJ way.” WNJ must be tempered by clear expectations and swift consequences for noncompliance. Many clients just don’t want to be there.

10 10 WNJ in Action (2) Initial two weeks of training by Steve Barnaby et al was absolutely crucial. Co-facilitation is useful, but administratively difficult and somewhat expensive. WNJ has helped an extremely diverse staff work together well. Must always battle the tendency to stray from the curriculum and resume old “teaching” behaviors. Has heightened our awareness of mental health aspects of TANF. Helps explain limited program impacts; reveals sad state of US mental health system.

11 11 What Next? Job search efforts like WNJ may be more difficult under “TANF 2.” WNJ “graduates” who get jobs mostly remain poor; little evidence of advancement, despite 6 months of retention services by staff. Good- paying jobs for non-college educated people continue to disappear. What to do? We’re beginning to track the extent to which individual efforts by staff can make a difference.

12 12 From Art to Technology Recently upgraded our “Efforts to Outcomes” (ETO) Internet-based case management software. Requires staff to identify specific, measurable goals for individual clients, then document staff and client efforts toward their achievement. Administrators and staff can download reports showing the amount of progress toward each goal over time. It’s an innovative way to identify and measure “what works.” See

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