Case Study of an Employment and Training Program Serving Single Mothers with Low Income: Climb Wyoming

Publication Date: September 2, 2021
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  • Published: 2021

Introduction

This case study describes Climb Wyoming (Climb), a nonprofit organization working to help single mothers with low incomes achieve self-sufficiency through career training and placement. Climb has six locations across the state. At each program site, Climb partners with (1) training providers, to provide industry-specific career trainings that differ across sites and over time; (2) community-based organizations, to provide wraparound support services and life skills education; (3) mental health providers, to provide individual and group counseling; and (4) employers, to offer subsidized jobs that are intended to become permanent. The program consists of six to eight weeks of job training followed by job matching and a six- to eight-week fully subsidized job placement—with mental health services, support services, and life skills education provided throughout. Climb often works extensively with applicants to remove barriers to program participation before enrolling them in a program cohort, and continues to support participants after they leave the program.

This case study is part of the State TANF Case Studies project, which is designed to expand the knowledge base on innovative approaches to help people with low incomes, including TANF recipients, prepare for and engage in work and increase their overall stability. Mathematica and its subcontractor, MEF Associates, were contracted by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop descriptive case studies of nine innovative state and local programs. The programs were chosen through a scan of the field and discussions with stakeholders. TANF practitioners and staff of other programs can learn about innovative practices through the case studies. The studies also can expand policymakers’ and researchers’ understanding of programs that support people’s success in work and highlight innovative practices to explore in future research.

Purpose

The purpose of this case study is to describe Climb in detail and highlight its key features: where Climb operates; whom Climb serves; what services Climb provides; how Climb is organized, staffed, and funded; how Climb uses data to monitor program outcomes; and promising practices, remaining challenges, and future plans.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Climb’s main approach to serving people with low incomes is to deliver an employment-based intervention designed to build employment and life skills and lead to a full-time job.
  • Climb’s primary services are: (1) six to eight weeks of training for jobs that are in high demand, (2) job matching services, (3) six to eight weeks of fully subsidized job placement, and (4) Climb Days that focus on life skills education and mental health services.
  • Key program practices include referring applicants to support services before enrolling them in the program, providing tailored job training and subsidized job placement along with guaranteed full-time employment in an in-demand industry, and supporting participants’ mental health in a psychologically informed environment.

Methods

To select programs for case studies, the study team, in collaboration with ACF, first identified approaches that showed promise in providing employment-related services to individuals and linking them to wraparound supports, such as child care and transportation. The next step was to hold initial discussions with program leaders to learn more about their programs and gauge their interest in being featured in one of the case studies. Once the list of programs was narrowed, the project team, in collaboration with ACF, selected the final set of case study programs to reflect diversity in geography and focus population.

Two members of the research team visited the Climb offices in Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming. The two-and-a-half-day site visit took place in March 2020. The team conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 staff members from Climb and 7 staff from partner organizations. The team also interviewed two participants in depth, reviewed anonymized case files for four Climb participants, and observed two activities during a Climb Day. The team followed up by telephone with a program leader in July 2020 to learn how Climb responded to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

Citation

Eddins, K., and J. Lyskawa (2021). “Case study of an employment and training program serving single mothers with low income: Climb Wyoming.” OPRE Report #2021-70, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.