Describes how 28 Local Workforce Investment Areas organized their American Job Centers into networks for service delivery and how this organization changed over time; discusses how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act might affect these service delivery networks.

“To improve the integration of the many employment and training services available to job seekers and businesses the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) required each Local Workforce Investment Board (LWIB) to set up one or more American Job Centers (AJCs, formerly known as One-Stop Career Centers). Across the country, about 2,500 AJCs currently provide services to job seekers and businesses. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which superseded WIA in July 2014, maintains the role of AJCs as the central access points for employment and training services.

This brief describes the AJC networks in the 28 randomly selected Local Workforce Investment Areas (local areas) that participated in the…WIA Gold Standard Evaluation. It begins by describing the types of AJCs established within the study local areas. It then describes how the LWIBs organized their AJCs into service-delivery networks and the entities they designated as operators for their AJCs. It concludes by discussing changes in these networks that occurred during the study, largely as a result of reduced program funding levels. Data for this brief were collected during visits to the study local areas in 2012 and 2013 and telephone interviews in 2014....

Within the broad guidelines established by WIA, states and local areas had substantial flexibility in designing their AJC networks. WIA and subsequent federal regulations mandated that LWIBs operate at least one center that offers core services…It also allowed LWIBs to operate affiliate…AJCs that often offer limited services and specialized centers that target services to address special needs, such as those of dislocated workers or of industry sectors. Because LWIBs typically considered their specialized centers to be affiliate centers, this brief describes two types of centers: (1) comprehensive centers and (2) affiliate centers” (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 and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The brief provides details about how the 28 local areas in the study organized their AJCs. It reports that •“Of the 269 AJCs operating in the 28 study local areas in 2012, 151 (56 percent) met their states’ definition of a comprehensive center” (p.2). •“Affiliate centers serve customers who cannot easily travel to a comprehensive AJC or who might want specialized services. Together, the study local areas operated 118 affiliate centers” (p.3). The brief also describes other access points that the local areas offered, including mobile vans, roving outreach teams, and unstaffed community outreach points. The author explains that the number of AJCs in the 28 local areas changed over time. “After initial data collection in 2012, the number of AJCs in the local areas fluctuated as part of a dynamic process of balancing changes in customer demand and local budgets.…By the time the evaluation team completed qualitative data collection for the study in early 2014, administrators in most local areas reported that, largely as a result of reductions in WIA and/or [Employment Services] program funds, they had closed AJCs or made other changes to their networks to reduce service-delivery costs” (p.5). Overall, the brief highlights the following key findings: •“Each local area had, on average, 10 [AJCs]. •Local areas supplemented comprehensive AJCs (which offered access to services of all mandatory partners) with affiliate centers that offered more limited services. About two-fifths of all centers were affiliates. •In about half of the local areas, the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker programs’ service contractors managed the AJCs. In other local areas, the WIA administrative entity or a consortium of WIA partners managed the AJCs. •One-third of study local areas closed AJCs over the course of the study, largely in response to funding cuts” (p.1). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)