Reengaging New York City’s Disconnected Youth Through Work: Implementation and Early Impacts of the Young Adult Internship Program

April 26, 2017
Topics:
Youth Services, Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Projects:
Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED), 2010-2020 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Reengaging New York City’s Disconnected Youth Through Work: Implementation and Early Impacts of the Young Adult Internship Program
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  • File Size 3mb
  • Pages 140
  • Published 2017

Introduction

This report presents implementation and early impact results from a random assignment evaluation of the Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP), a subsidized employment program for young people in New York City who have become disconnected from school and work. Operated by various provider agencies, YAIP offers disconnected youth between the ages of 16 and 24 a temporary paid internship, as well as various support services.

The YAIP evaluation is part of the larger Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From July 2013 to March 2014, researchers assigned nearly 2,700 young people at random to either a program group, which was offered YAIP services, or to a control group, which was not offered those services. The YAIP evaluation will measure outcomes for both groups over time to assess whether YAIP services led to better outcomes for the program group compared with those of the control group.

This report is the first of two focused on the YAIP evaluation. It provides a detailed description of the YAIP model, assesses its implementation, and examines whether the program improved young people’s outcomes during the first year after study enrollment. Overall, the implementation study concluded that the YAIP program was well implemented across provider agencies and that participation rates were high. An analysis of youth outcomes indicates that program group members were more likely than control group members to receive employment and other types of support. In part due to the offer of a paid internship, the program group was also more likely to work and had higher earnings in the year following random assignment. Additional follow-up will be necessary to assess YAIP’s longer-term effects on employment and earnings, as well as other key outcomes.

Research Questions

  1. 1 How was YAIP designed and operated?
  2. 2 What impact did YAIP have on employment and earnings, education and training, and well-being relative to what would have happened in the absence of the program? Did YAIP appear to be more effective for certain subgroups of young people?
  3. 3 To what extent do YAIP’s costs differ from those expended on behalf of individuals randomly assigned to a control group that could not receive YAIP program services? How does this cost differential relate to the benefits associated with program impacts, if any?

Purpose

For many young people, the time between one’s late teenage years and early twenties encompasses several important milestones, including graduating from high school, attending college, entering the workforce, and beginning to establish economic independence. However, 12.3 percent of young people in the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 — 4.9 million people in total — are neither in school nor working. These “disconnected” or “opportunity” youth face serious challenges to achieving labor market success and self-sufficiency in adulthood.

YAIP is intended to help reengage youth who have fallen off track, thereby reducing their risk of long-term economic hardship. MDRC is conducting a random assignment evaluation of YAIP to determine whether the program makes a difference in the lives of the young people it serves.

Key Findings and Highlights

Findings from the report include the following:

  • Overall, YAIP was well implemented. The program was delivered across providers with a high degree of fidelity to the program model as designed. Participation rates were high: Over three-fourths of young people assigned to the program group worked in a subsidized internship and 86 percent of those youth completed the internship.
  • Program group members were more likely than control group members to report receiving employment support, as well as advice or support and mentorship from staff members at an agency or organization. However, substantial numbers of control group members also received help in these areas.
  • The program group was more likely than the control group to have worked during the year following random assignment, but the employment rates of the two groups converged during the quarters after the YAIP internships ended. The program group also had higher earnings than the control group. While earnings impacts were largest during the time when program group members were working in a paid internships, these earnings impacts persisted throughout the follow-up period, suggesting that program group members may have obtained better jobs than control group members.

Methods

The evaluation includes an implementation study, an impact study, and a benefit-cost analysis. This report presents implementation and early impact findings (after one year). Benefit-cost findings and longer-term impact findings (after 30 months) will be presented in a future report.

The implementation study describes YAIP’s design and how the program ultimately operated. Key data sources for the implementation study include staff interviews, observations, and participation data. The implementation section of this report integrates qualitative and quantitative data from these sources to create a coherent picture of the implementation of the program.

The impact study uses a randomized controlled trial design in which individuals eligible for and interested in YAIP were randomly assigned to either a program group, which was offered YAIP services, or to a control group, which was not offered those services. The study will evaluate impacts on employment and earnings, education and training, and well-being, among other areas. Data sources for the impact study include administrative records on wages and postsecondary enrollment, subsidized employment payroll records, and surveys conducted approximately 4, 12, and 30 months after participants entered the study.

Citation

Skemer, Melanie, Arielle Sherman, Sonya Williams, and Danielle Cummings (2017). Reengaging New York City’s Disconnected Youth Through Work: Implementation and Early Impacts of the Young Adult Internship Program, OPRE Report 2017-22, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last Reviewed: April 26, 2017