New Report Shows Early Success for Los Angeles Welfare-to-Work Efforts

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HHS News Release

HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala released a new study today reporting strong early results for Los Angeles County's welfare-to-work program, Jobs-First GAIN, in substantially increased employment and family earnings as well as overall welfare costs. The study was released jointly with the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) and Los Angeles County.

The results are among the most impressive ever measured in a full-scale welfare-to-work program in a large urban area. Los Angeles County has the largest welfare population of any county in the nation -- larger than any state except New York and California. The County made a major shift in its welfare to work program from primarily education and training for a small number of recipients to a work first focus for most of its recipients.

"As we mark the second anniversary of the President's signing of the new welfare law, this report on Los Angeles County gives important early evidence that welfare reform can succeed in large cities," said Secretary Shalala.

"The promising news of Los Angeles County's program is that it can work on a large scale with a diverse and disadvantaged population of families on welfare. We are eager to see more results as the program and evaluation proceed," added Shalala.

Jobs-First GAIN covers a broad segment of the welfare caseload, including persons just entering or returning to the welfare rolls, as well as long-term welfare recipients. The evaluation encompasses nearly 21,000 welfare recipients. Forty-five percent are Hispanic, 31 percent African-American, and 17 percent white. The period covered by the evaluation is 1996 to 1997.

The results released today are preliminary and cover a six-month period. After six months in the program, 43 percent of the Jobs-First participants were employed, compared to 32 percent for the control group. During the same period, earnings for the Jobs-First group outpaced the control group by about 46 percent or $1,286 vs. $879. Overall, the program reduced welfare costs by 8 to 10 percent.

"The Los Angeles County program proves that a well implemented, work focused program can better the job and earnings prospects of parents on welfare," said Olivia A. Golden, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. "As we learned recently in a study of Oregon's work first program, a strong 'work' message combined with high quality, intensive services to find jobs are crucial ingredients for employment with increased earnings potential."

We encourage states to look closely at Los Angeles County's program and invest in the critical supports, such as child care, to ensure that newly employed parents stay and advance in the work force," added Golden.

The Los Angeles County results of increased job placements, higher levels of employment after six months and higher earnings mirror the measures under which states can compete for additional funds in the new welfare law's annual $200 million High Performance Bonus.

Sample participants are being followed for two years to determine the program's effects on their employment and earnings, job quality, job retention, welfare and Food Stamp receipt, and outcomes for their children. A final report, tentatively scheduled for late 1999, will present longer-term impacts and will analyze the program's cost-effectiveness.

The report, "The Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN Evaluation: Preliminary Findings on Participation Patterns and First Year Impacts," was prepared by MDRC under contract to Los Angeles County, with additional support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ford Foundation. The report is available on the ACF web site at http://www.acf.dhhs.gov.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

Contact: Michael Kharfen, (202) 401-9215
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