Results from the Valuing Individual Success and Increasing Opportunities Now (VISION) Program in Salem, Oregon

Published: August 15, 2008
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Employment Retention and Advancement Project (ERA), 1998-2011 | Learn more about this project

Although much is known about how to help unemployed welfare recipients find jobs, little is known about how to help them and other low-wage workers keep jobs or advance in the labor market. This report presents an assessment of the implementation and effects at the one-year follow-up point of a program in Salem, Oregon, that aimed to promote better initial job placements, employment retention, and advancement among applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program who were unemployed. The program is part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project, which is testing 16 models across the country. The ERA project is being conducted by MDRC, under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Salem ERA program began operating in May 2002. Called VISION, it was jointly operated by staff from the local welfare agency and a local community college, and it was located at a One-Stop Career Center. The program provided TANF applicants with job search and placement services, including workshops that focused on future job retention and career paths. Then, once clients secured employment, VISION was to continue with postemployment services to promote job retention and career advancement. VISION is being evaluated using a random assignment research design whereby eligible individuals were assigned, through a lottery-like process, either to a program group, whose members participated in VISION, or to a control group, whose members participated in Oregon’s standard welfare-to-work program (known as JOBS).