Brighton Center

New Report Examines Strategies for Providing Supportive Services in Workforce Development Programs

Washington, DC—A new report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) profiles eight programs around the country that are using innovative approaches to address key unmet needs among job training participants across population groups—from single mothers in Wyoming to refugees in Boston—that could provide useful models for providing services cost effectively.

Previous IWPR research shows that supportive services can help workforce development participants enroll in and succeed in job training, but certain support needs typically go unmet, including the need for child care, emergency cash assistance, transportation assistance, mental health counseling, and domestic violence services, because they are challenging for programs to provide.

The report, Programs to Support Job Training Success: Innovations to Address Unmet Needs, profiles eight programs, studied through site visits and interviews, that utilize an array of strategies in providing supports to training participants, including: building strong partnerships with other organizations, service providers, businesses, and colleges in the community; implementing integrated case management, which allows job training participants to work with a single case manager to access supportive services; and providing services in group as well individual settings to save costs while providing structured opportunities for members of a cohort to share resources or troubleshoot challenges.

The report focuses on services that can be especially challenging for programs to provide, including domestic violence and mental health services. Two of the programs featured in the IWPR report, for example, belong to a five-organization partnership formed to measure the prevalence of domestic violence among training participants in their area and increase access to needed services. Partners received training on how to screen for experiences of domestic violence and refer clients to appropriate local resources; several partnered with organizations that have specialized supports domestic violence survivors may need, such as legal advice and mental health counseling.

Many programs featured in the report collaborated actively and creatively with community partners to reduce costs and eliminate duplication of services. The report provides examples of how programs combined (“braided”) multiple funding sources to pay for expenses, including underutilized funding sources, such as SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) program funds, to cover the costs of supportive services for job training participants.

Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., IWPR Associate Director of Research, said, “It is so encouraging to see innovative programs coming together with other organizations across their communities to ensure that people get the support they need to succeed in job training. Through the process of this research, we heard so many inspiring stories about how access to child care, for example, made all the difference to low-income single mothers who were able to graduate and find good jobs. These kinds of programs can have lasting benefits for multiple generations and should be a priority of the new administration.”

The programs profiled in the report include Brighton Center in Newport, KY; Building Futures in Providence, RI; Climb Wyoming; JVS Boston; Raise the Floor at Gateway Community and Technical College in Florence, KY; Seattle Jobs Initiative; Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA), located in Mercedes, TX; and YWCA of Greater Cincinnati.

This report is a part of IWPR’s Job Training Success Project, funded by the Walmart Foundation, which includes a research review of the role of supportive services in training success, a survey of nearly 2,000 job training program participants, and a survey of 168 administrators of job training programs. The project seeks to improve knowledge about supports that enable women and men to receive the training they need to obtain better-paying jobs that provide economic security for themselves and their families.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.