Analyzes strategies aimed at improving employment and other outcomes for groups who face serious barriers to employment.... as studied for the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ (HtE) Demonstration and Evaluation Project.

"The HtE evaluation was a 10-year study that used rigorous random assignment research designs to evaluate innovative strategies aimed at improving employment and other outcomes for groups who face serious barriers to employment. The strategies were tested in New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Kansas, and Missouri. The results of the evaluations described in this report are mixed. Only three of the eight programs studied — CEO [Center for Employment Opportunities] and TWC [Transitional Work Corporation] in the HtE evaluation, and PRIDE [Personal Roads to Individual Development and Employment] in the ERA [Employment, Retention and Advancement] evaluation — increased employment, and only PRIDE had impacts on regular employment for the full research sample that persisted over the full follow-up period. The other sites increased participation in pre-employment activities and other services that were expected to lead to work, but there were no impacts on employment. Several of the sites did, however, achieve positive results in domains other than employment: reductions in recidivism in CEO that led to favorable benefit-cost results, reductions in TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] payments in PRIDE and in TWC during the first year and a half of follow-up, and increases in the use of higher-quality care options in the EHS sites" (p.ES-6). (Abstractor: Author)

Full publication title: What Strategies Work for the Hard-to-Employ? Final Results of the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project and Selected Sites from the Employment Retention and Advancement Project

Major Findings & Recommendations

"While the results from these evaluations are mixed, with impacts on employment for the full sample seen in only three of the evaluations described, some cross-cutting themes and lessons emerged for future directions in research on hard-to-employ populations — not the least of which is that this group of people is diverse and presents a variety of challenges. Among other considerations, these evaluations underscore the need to reexamine assumptions about hard-to- employ people, to modify existing strategies for subgroups of hard-to-employ populations, and, in some cases, to use multiple strategies together rather than implementing only one at a time" (p.ES-2). Key findings from specific Hard to Employ sites: • New York City: "The evaluation found that [the project] substantially increased employment early in the follow- up period, when most program group members were working in transitional jobs. However, the employment gains faded as people left these jobs. There were no consistent increases in unsubsidized employment" (p.ES-2). • Kansas and Missouri: "The Enhanced Early Head Start (EHS) evaluation tested programmatic enhancements to Early Head Start... Although the sites were able to increase the program focus on employment, education, and other self-sufficiency issues, they were not able to fully integrate the enhancements into the core services. The Enhanced EHS program did not have positive impacts on employment or earnings for the full sample but was more successful among a subgroup of families with infants and pregnant women" (p.ES-2-3). • Philadelphia: "The evaluation found that TWC was able to increase short-term employment and income for a very disadvantaged population, but it did not lead to increases in long-term unsubsidized ...employment. The evaluation found no significant impacts on employment, earnings, or public assistance receipt at any time during the follow-up period" (p.ES-3-4). • Rhode Island: "The evaluation found that care managers were able to engage people with depression on the telephone. Many participated in a structured, short-term, telephonic psychoeducation program designed to educate participants about depression and provide specific steps for managing stress and overcoming depression. During the one-year intervention period, more program group than control group members received in-person treatment. However, the effects on treatment participation were not sustained, and there were no consistent impacts on depression or employment" (ES-4). (Abstractor: Author)