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- How were the ETJD programs designed and operated, and whom did they serve?
- How did the ETJD programs affect participants’ receipt of services and their outcomes in three primary domains: employment, child support, and criminal justice (that is, arrests, convictions, and incarceration)?
- How did the programs’ costs compare with any benefits they produced?
This report presents the final impacts from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD), which included two sites that are part of ACF’s Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED). ETJD tested seven transitional jobs programs that targeted people recently released from prison or unemployed parents who did not have custody of their children. The ETJD programs were “enhanced” in various ways to address the shortcomings of previous programs. Two of the ETJD grantees which served non-custodial parents, Atlanta and San Francisco, were evaluated as part of the STED study. The two evaluations – STED and ETJD – closely coordinated beyond the shared sites, including shared reports, common data collection instruments, and other ongoing collaboration.
The study tested seven transitional jobs programs that targeted either people recently released from prison or unemployed non-custodial parents who had fallen behind in child support payments. The ETJD programs were “enhanced” in various ways relative to transitional jobs programs studied in the past. The programs were designed to help hard-to-employ individuals “learn to work by working,” in order to improve their ability to get and hold unsubsidized jobs. Because the ETJD programs targeted noncustodial parents and recently incarcerated individuals, they also aimed to increase payment of child support and reduce recidivism, outcomes that may be tied to employment.
Key Findings and Highlights
- The ETJD programs increased earnings in the last year of the follow-up period. ETJD participants earned about $700 more than the control group during the last year of the follow-up, a difference of 9 percentage points. Although the programs increased earnings by as much as 73 percent in the early quarters of the study period, as can be expected when many program group members were working in a transitional job, earnings impacts grew much smaller over time. Importantly, they remained statistically significant throughout the entire 30-month follow-up period.
- ETJD participants were significantly more likely to pay formal child support during the final year although programs did not produce statistically significant impacts on the amount of child support paid. At the four sites targeting noncustodial parents, ETJD participants were more likely to pay formal support during the year, a difference of 6 percentage points. On the other hand, the amount paid by ETJD participants was slightly less than the average amount paid by control group payers, with a difference of $43 that is neither substantively nor statistically significant.
- There is some evidence that ETJD programs affected some measures of recidivism however, overall, ETJD programs had no effects on criminal justice “events.” The ETJD programs targeting formerly incarcerated people did not significantly reduce the number of people who had at least one criminal justice “event” during the follow-up period. Yet, these study participants were less likely to have been convicted of a felony or to have been incarcerated in prison during the follow-up period, and spent fewer days in prison overall than the control group, a difference of 19 days. In addition, impacts were concentrated among study participants at the highest risk of recidivism.
- Despite the positive impacts, most sample members in both the program and control groups were still struggling in the labor market at the end of the study’s follow-up period. Only about one-third of those who responded to the 30-month survey reported working more than 34 hours per week. Even ETJD participants probably need to develop substantially greater skills in order to obtain better-paying, more stable jobs.
The evaluation included an implementation study, an impact study, and a cost analysis. This report presents 30-month impact findings and results from the cost analysis. Implementation findings and shorter-term impact findings (after 12 months) were presented in a report released in December 2016.
The implementation study described how the programs were designed and how they operated. Main data sources for the implementation study included staff interviews, observations, and participation data.
The impact study used a randomized controlled trial design in which individuals eligible for and interested in the programs were randomly assigned to either a program group, which was offered the program’s services, or to a control group, which was not offered those services. The study evaluated impacts on employment and earnings, education and training, and well-being. Data sources for the impact study included administrative records on wages, NDNH data, subsidized employment payroll records, and surveys conducted approximately 12, and 30 months after participants entered the study.
The cost study assessed the cost of the programs per program group members and compared this value with similar programs and programs serving a similar population. To determine the cost of the programs, the research team examined operating costs, costs of support services, and wages and payroll costs. These are one-year cost estimates, reflecting service participation sample members reported in survey administered 12 months after random assignment.
Bret Barden, Randall Juras, Cindy Redcross, Mary Farrell, and Dan Bloom (2018). New Perspective on Creating Jobs – Final Impacts of the Next Generation of Subsidized Employment Programs. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.