Research Topics

Evaluation of the Employment and Training Components of WorkFirst NJ

The Heldrich Centered conducted a study of WorkFirst New Jersey (WFNJ), the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare-to-work program between June and December 2017. This six-month study provided recommendations and a plan of action to strengthen the employment and training components of WFNJ. In order to receive cash assistance, most recipients in the WFNJ program, including those receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), must fulfill a certain amount of “work activity” hours (e.g., job search and readiness classes, on-the-job training, postsecondary education and training, and/or private-sector employment). The study examined the employment and training components through a comprehensive deep dive: into multiple aspects of the program and includes a diverse mix of stakeholder viewpoints and voices. Researchers conducted the following: five focus groups with welfare recipients; phone interviews with employers providing on-the-job training from different industries and regions; two external stakeholder advisory group meetings with employers, county and municipal welfare directors, workforce development board directors, One-Stop Career Center operators and managers, nonprofit leaders, and others; and an online survey of local and county service providers. A map of welfare recipient flow and services was compiled alongside an overview of programmatic data points and budgetary material. To complement this study of WFNJ, a national literature review was included to highlight best practices and innovative strategies. Finally, a policy forum was held on September 29, 2017 that informed New Jersey human services and workforce development leaders, providers, and policymakers of other states’ pioneering practices and sparked discussion to bring promising solutions to New Jersey.

Topic: 
Education & Training
Workforce Policy & Practice