Moving Toward Integrated Job Seeker Services: Collaboration Among American Job Center Programs

Author(s): Koller, Vinz and Paprocki, Anne.

Organizational Author(s): Social Policy Research Associates, Mathematica Policy Research

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Resource Availability: Publically available

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Summary

Describes different forms of collaboration between Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs and other American Job Center (AJC) partners, such as shared staff responsibilities, collocation of partner staff within the AJC, and the use of shared data systems. The brief draws on qualitative data collected in 2012 and 2013 from the 28 Local Workforce Investment Areas in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation.

Description

“A key tenet of…WIA was to promote collaboration among workforce development programs to create a comprehensive and integrated system, accessed through …AJCs…. [WIA] identified programs and agencies that were required to partner to operate the AJCs…The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which superseded WIA, continues the focus on partnerships and adds Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) as an additional mandatory partner. This system of mandatory partners was intended to make workforce investment services more ‘customer-focused,’ by requiring programs to ‘co-locate, coordinate, and integrate activities and information’ at AJCs.

This brief discusses the collaboration between the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker programs and other AJC partners in 28 Local Workforce Investment Areas (local areas) randomly selected to participate in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation (WIA Gold Standard Evaluation). It begins by describing how WIA and Wagner-Peyser Employment Service (ES) program staff in the study’s local areas collaborated to provide job seekers with core services, including greeting customers upon arrival at the center, providing new customers with a general orientation to AJC services, assisting customers with using information and online tools in a resource room available to all job seekers, and conducting workshops that are generally open to anyone. It then discusses two other aspects of partnering: (1) collocation of partner staff at AJCs, and (2) use of a common management information system (MIS) by AJC partners to record and share information” (p.1-2).

“This issue brief is one in a series of briefs that presents findings from the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation, which is being conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor…, Employment and Training Administration….The study examines the implementation, effectiveness, and benefits and costs of the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs using an experimental design” (p.6).

(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Among the [28] local areas in the study, [the authors] identified three broad staffing models to provide core services: (1) functionally aligned staffing, (2) specialized staffing, and (3) hybrid staffing, which included both functionally aligned and specialized staffing” (p.2). In functionally aligned models “WIA and ES staff members were trained to function inter¬changeably in providing services….[U]nder the specialized staffing model, WIA and ES staff had specific responsibilities that did not overlap….The staff specialized…:” (1) by service, (2) by customer type, or (3) by location (p.3). Of the 28 local areas in the study, 9 adopted a functionally aligned staffing model; 11 adopted a specialized staffing model; and 8 adopted a hybrid staffing model (p.2).

The brief describes how local areas implemented these staffing models and the challenges they faced. For instance, “staff in the local areas with functionally aligned staffing argued that this approach…allowed job seekers to access services more quickly, because any WIA or ES staff person…could assist them. However, local area staff reported [that] small AJCs did not always have sufficient staff for both a WIA and an ES staff member to be available to interchangeably provide core services” (p.3).

“Staff in the local areas that used a specialized staffing model noted that, for the most part, the model led to a well-integrated and coordinated system of responsibilities that took advantage of the ability of one set of staff to become experts in specific functions….In some local areas, however, the specialized staffing model involved duplication of services” (p.3).

With regard to staff collocation, the authors found that “[i]n 24 local areas, ES staff members were collocated full-time at all of the local areas’ comprehensive centers” (p.4). Staff reported that collocation “promoted shared policies and procedures and facilitated discussions about the needs of specific customers. [It also] strengthened the referral process” (p.4-5).

Finally, the authors found that “[i]n 25 of the 28 local areas…, WIA and ES entered data into the same MIS. In 23 local areas, at least one other partner…also entered data into [that] MIS” (p.5). Staff reported that “these systems typically lessened the burden of data entry…[and] made it easier for staff mem¬bers to keep track of services customers received from other partners and helped minimize the duplication of services” (p.5).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Publication Date: 2015
Posted: 9/25/2017 1:43 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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