Publication Date

1999

Abstract

President Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996. That act was a major reform of the welfare system and policies. The goal of the act was to reduce the number of people receiving welfare, to get recipients into the workforce, and to allow states more flexibility in welfare eligibility. Since that bill was signed, the State of Kansas has allowed private companies to operate welfare to work programs. Job Start is one such program. Job Start is a training program that teaches Employment Skills, Math Skills, and allows participants to practice workplace behaviors in a structured workshop environment. After completion of the training, participants move to the Community Placement component, where they engage in supervised job search. This paper attempts to answer the following question: What affects the amount of time it takes for participants who complete the Job Start welfare to work program to find jobs? The research methodology consisted of qualitative research and limited use of existing quantitative data. The following methods of data collection were used: scanning and charting existing Job Start data from a survey with open and closed questions, charting existing Job Start data on job development, and conducting semi-structured interviews with graduates of the program. The conclusions were significant. The barriers that were most reported by the research participants, who were all female, were: financial, education, parenting, and training issues. Motivation was another major barrier. Welfare to work programs can assist participants in overcoming most barriers, but it is the participant herself who must decide to go apply for jobs. Motivation is one area for which the participant herself is solely responsible.

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