The Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department created the Los Angeles Reconnections Career Academy (LARCA) program as a means of addressing the extensive education and employment needs of the city's sizeable out-of-school youth population. This evaluation helps inform how to service this population, and more specifically, to address the increased emphasis placed on serving out of school youth under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

This evaluation, using a random assignment impact and cost study approval found that LARCA program participants re-enrolled in secondary and postsecondary education and earned secondary education credentials and college credit at a higher rate than did control group members for up to two years after the point of random assignment. The report also found that the LARCA program spent more per participant to achieve the gains it produced than was spent on the Workforce Investment Act services that were available to the control group. Overall, the findings in this report contribute to the knowledge-base of what works for out-of-school youth, especially given that the LARCA program showed positive impacts in a city where the workforce system prioritizes out of school youth and offers a rich array of services that control group youth could easily access. This evaluation helps inform how to service this population, and more specifically, to address the increased emphasis placed on serving out of school youth under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department created the LARCA program as a means of addressing the extensive education and employment needs of the city's sizeable out-of-school youth population.


Major Findings & Recommendations

Findings of the Impacts on Secondary Education:

1) Program group members re-enrolled in secondary education programming at higher rates than members of the control group;

2) Program group members received secondary education credentials at higher rates than control group member; and

3) Outcomes for key subgroup mirrored those for the full scale, but there was no significant difference in outcomes between subgroup pairs.

Impacts on Vocational Training and Postsecondary Education:

1) LARCA participants enrolled in Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) colleges at a higher rate than control group members;

2) Program group members attempted more credits and at least with the first year random assignment, earned more credits than control group members;

3) The LARCA program had a greater impact on enrollment and credit completion for some subgroups, and

4) The LARCA program had a greater impact on LACCD college enrollment and credit completion for participants enrolled earlier in the enrollment cycle.

Impacts on Employment:

1) Many program group members received employment services from the LARCA program;

2) Program participant fared slightly worse in employment outcomes than control group members;

3) Outcomes for key subgroups mirrored those for the full sample and impacts did not differ between subgroup pairs;

4) LARCA's long term impacts on employment cannot be fully assessed, given the limited timeframe of analysis.

Impacts on Criminal Justice System involvement:

1) The LARCA program had no impact on program participants' rate of arrest, conviction, or incarceration in Los Angeles County jails;

2) The LARCA program had no impacts on the types of arrest or conviction or the type of release from jail;

3) For both LARCA program and control group members, the rates of involvement in the criminal justice system were about the same two years after random assignment as they were two years prior to random assignment.

Recommendations: Those pursuing future research on out-of-school youth programs may want to consider questions such as these examples:

1) To what extent can impacts be improved by modifying enrollment procedures to serve a less motivated population?

2) What practices partnerships and services might be used to improved attainment of important educational outcomes?

3) What services might lead to improved employment and earnings? 4) Do programs like LARCA have impacts for dropouts?