September 17, 1999

Competitive Welfare-to-Work Grantees
Utilize Publicly-Funded, Transitional Jobs
to Aid Hard-to-Employ Welfare Recipients

by Clifford M. Johnson and Lana Kim

Under the federal welfare-to-work (WtW) program, the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded 126 competitive grants totaling more than $450 million to public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other entities throughout the nation. A third round of grants will be announced shortly. While the welfare-to-work initiatives funded through this process are quite diverse, a substantial number of grantees are utilizing publicly-funded, transitional jobs as a central element of their strategy for assisting hard-to-employ welfare recipients.

The largest and most ambitious public job creation initiatives funded, in whole or in part, through welfare-to-work grants have been summarized in other Center publications. (For example, see Publicly-Funded Jobs for Hard-to-Employ Welfare Recipients, revised August 18, 1999.) These initiatives include transitional jobs programs in Baltimore, Detroit, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. In order to identify other welfare-to-work grantees engaged in similar efforts, the Center recently reviewed competitive grant summaries published by the Department of Labor and conducted telephone interviews to collect additional information regarding projects that appeared to include paid work experience for at least some participants. The brief program profiles that appear below are based on this information.


Goodwill of San Antonio (San Antonio, TX)

For more than a year, Goodwill of San Antonio has been placing hard-to-employ welfare recipients in transitional, wage-paying employment within its own stores. Participants receive one week of career development training before embarking on their temporary jobs as retail clerks, cashiers, and warehouse workers in one of 12 Goodwill stores around San Antonio. They work 40 hours a week for $6.00 an hour. Throughout the three-month period of paid work, job coaches and developers are in constant contact with participants, helping them find permanent job opportunities and gain the skills they need to secure those jobs after they leave their temporary positions. Goodwill's job developers frequently are managers of stores and restaurants where participants moving out of temporary jobs may be hired.

Referrals of welfare recipients who meet the federal welfare-to-work eligibility criteria have been low, a pattern that Goodwill attributes to the absence of a strong relationship with the local Department of Health and Human Services. However, Goodwill is currently developing relationships with the Attorney General's office in an attempt to increase referrals of non-custodial parents to this program.

For further information, contact: Hilda Bellamy (210) 924-8581.


Goodwill Industries of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

The work experience program at Goodwill Industries of Southern California was launched in January and includes weekly training as well as paid work. Participants are employed at Goodwill work sites for at least 20 hours a week at the state minimum wage ($5.75 per hour). They also attend a minimum of 12 hours of classes or training a week. The training includes an 80-hour pre-employment program. Participants can take classes in career exploration and anger management as well as receive counseling and sobriety help. They are expected to remain in the program for an average of three to five months before moving into permanent employment.

Participants work in clerical, retail, general production and assembly, office maintenance, and food service jobs. They are assigned to a job developer who helps them look for and secure permanent employment. The project places particular emphasis on serving welfare recipients with disabilities, and Goodwill's efforts to strengthen its relationship with the county Department of Public Social Services has increased the number of direct referrals to the program. Although the federal WtW grant will last for only 30 months, Goodwill already is seeking ways to extend the program beyond this period.

For further information, contact: Margaret O'Brien (323) 223-1211 x105.


Catholic Charities of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

On July 1st, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles (CCLA) launched their Work Experience Program, a pilot program with the capacity to serve 40 people. It places welfare recipients with poor work histories and limited work experience in subsidized, temporary jobs within Catholic Charities. These transitional jobs last only eight weeks and pay up to $6.50 per hour. If a participant is working in a job similar to one held by a regular CCLA employee, the participant is paid $.25 less than the regular staff (but no less than the minimum wage). Participants work 40 hours a week in jobs ranging from data entry and clerical positions to work as community workers and accountants.

Although case managers facilitate referrals and placement for their clients, the ultimate decision of whether to hire a participant in a transitional job comes from the supervisor of the work site. Once hired, the participant is considered a "temporary employee" and is paid directly by the work site. The supervisor of the work site ensures that the transitional job is composed of duties and responsibilities that lead to regular job placement by submitting a job description and training plan to Catholic Charities.

For further information, contact: Jackie Lazarus (213) 251-3400.


Rocky Mountain SER/Jobs for Progress (Denver, CO)

In Denver, about half of the 2,500 adults remaining on the welfare caseload are classified as "hard to employ." Rocky Mountain SER, in close collaboration with Catholic Charities of Denver, provides transitional jobs for a small portion of this population. The program hires parents of Head Start children who are on welfare as Head Start employees. About 30 parents spend four hours each day in education or training and the remaining four hours in paid work. Catholic Charities operates the Head Start centers where most of the participants are placed. Rocky Mountain SER also places some participants in the Mile High Head Start program. Participants earn $7.50 per hour and are paid by Catholic Charities.

The focus on training participants for careers in Head Start was an outgrowth of concerns regarding a shortage of child care providers in the state of Colorado as well as in the city of Denver. The mayor and the governor both support the program, with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Mayor's Office of Employment and Training working together to make referrals. After four to six months of work in transitional jobs, Catholic Charities hires successful participants as permanent employees at $10.00 per hour. Permanent employees also receive numerous benefits including health and dental insurance, a 401(k) plan, and paid vacation time.

For further information, contact: Andrew Royball (303) 433-3118.


Total Action Against Poverty (Roanoke, VA)

Total Action Against Poverty (TAP) is replicating the Center for Employment Training (CET) model based in San Jose, California and now operating in 36 sites across 15 states. The program, called "This Valley Works," consists of four training tracks: office automation, warehouse, building maintenance, and institutional cooking. Each track is supported by a technical advisory board made up of potential employers, many of whom are in the public or non-profit sectors. These employers hire participants for their transitional jobs. An assessment is conducted before entrance into the program to help select an appropriate career track and to develop career goals and a skill development plan. Participants are paid $5.15 per hour by TAP for 16 hours per week of work, and they also attend 19 hours per week of classroom training. They are expected to remain in this combined work/training program for six months.

Currently, approximately 80 people are enrolled in the program, although some already are employed when they enter and therefore are not placed in transitional jobs. TAP helps participants move from transitional to permanent employment by providing a range of job search assistance and job development services. Every week, TAP sends its staff to talk to welfare recipients about the program at local welfare offices, an outreach effort that has boosted referrals and program enrollments.

For further information, contact Cathy Carter (540) 345-6781.


Tulare Private Industry Council (Visalia, CA)

Participants in the Community Service Employment program begin with job readiness training and intensive job search activities. Those who are unsuccessful in their job search are placed in clerical positions within local agencies for 8-10 weeks. Agencies sponsoring these transitional jobs include public and nonprofit organizations that already are providing job placement, housing, or other services to participants. If this brief period of transitional employment does not lead to an unsubsidized job, participants are placed in an on-the-job training program for an additional eight weeks. During this training period, the employer is reimbursed for 50 percent of the wages paid to the worker.

For further information, contact Adam Peck (559) 737-4246.


CHARO (Los Angeles, CA)

CHARO has placed a small number of WtW participants in transitional jobs within its own agency and encourages other public and nonprofit agencies to adopt a similar approach. Participants are employed 32-40 hours per week and work for between three and six months in these positions. They can also participate in training offered at CHARO's resource center during this period of transitional employment. CHARO directly recruits eligible welfare recipients for enrollment in the program.

For further information, contact: Marvin Ron (323) 268-1100.


Richmond Private Industry Council (Richmond, VA)

The Richmond PIC's program is administered by the Training Development

Corporation (TDC) in Bucksport, Maine. Building upon existing relationships between the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Social Services, TDC is placing welfare recipients into entry-level clerical and customer service positions for transitional jobs. The program is very new, and initial referrals have been slow to develop. TDC is working to build a network of community organizations that can support this project as well as developing a local staff who can oversee its development.

For further information, contact: John Forley (207) 469-6385.