This report assesses the implementation and early effects of two programs in Eugene and Medford, Oregon, that provided individualized employment retention and career advancement services to low-wage workers, including counseling on how to find a better job, assistance in accessing education and training programs, advice on conflict resolution on the job, and referrals to supportive services. Targeted to current or recent recipients of welfare benefits, food stamps, or child care subsidies, the programs are among the 16 models that MDRC is testing around the country as part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project, under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.
In the Eugene and Medford tests, from 2002 to 2004, individuals were randomly assigned either to an ERA group, eligible for ERA services, or to a control group, whose members were not eligible for ERA but who could seek services from other providers in their communities. For this report, the employment and earnings of single-parent sample members in these two groups were tracked and compared for 1.5 years following their dates of random assignment.
The Eugene program was jointly operated by staff from the local welfare agency and a community college. The Medford program also involved the local welfare agency, which partnered with The Job Council, a local community college, and the Oregon Employment Department.