Unemployed or underemployed parents have trouble paying child support. In the Families Forward Demonstration, child support agencies sought to help parents get better jobs and increase their earnings by teaching job skills needed by local employers. The questions arising from the project may help other agencies evaluate prospective job training partners.
A Partnership Between Child Support Agencies and Local Service Providers
The Families Forward Demonstration examined strategies to help parents with low and middle incomes make reliable child support payments by increasing employment and earnings. The model, which emphasized free occupational training activities, shows promise for helping parents qualify for jobs in their chosen fields and for improving child support compliance.
When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.
Meeting the Needs of Workers and Employers
Low-wage workers have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing greater levels of unemployment than their higher-wage-earning peers. Training programs that focus on moving workers into skilled jobs in industries with strong local demand could reposition them for 21st-century success.
A Synthesis of Findings on Sector Strategies
Job seekers with low incomes face numerous hurdles to finding and keeping high-quality jobs. Sector strategies address those hurdles by matching job seekers with skills training for specific industries or occupations where there is a growing demand. This review examines a cross-section of strategies, highlighting successes and areas for improvement.
An Interview with Karen Pennington and Dawn Slinkard
Tulsa Community WorkAdvance is a sector-based training and career advancement program that prepares people for jobs in the health care field. Executive Director Karen Pennington talks about the impact of COVID-19 on operations and future opportunities in health care, and graduate Dawn Slinkard describes her experience in the program.
Next Steps for Research
The paper summarizes past and ongoing research, identifies gaps in knowledge, and presents four categories of potential questions to help define future research in employment and training programs serving low-income people.
Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
Costs, Benefits, and Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration
WorkAdvance goes beyond the previous generation of employment programs, concentrating on demand-driven skills training and identifiable career pathways. Findings show the approach increased earnings and led to advancement gains over time at the most successful study sites. One program, Per Scholas, boosted earnings by 20 percent in the last year of follow-up.
Using Data to Analyze Enrollment Drop-Off
The August 2019 In Practice blog post offers tips for programs to ensure that the participants they recruit, actually enroll. In this post, we examine some key lessons from MDRC’s evaluation of the WorkAdvance project to help turn program recruits into program success stories.