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Profiles of the Hard-to-Employ and the Implications for Job SuccessElizabeth B. Bolton Professor of Community Development Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences 1 2
2 Male 11% Female 89% Figure 1. Gender of Participants Figure 2. Marital StatusTo participate in the Welfare-to-Work program individua ls must qualify by meeting specific criteria. In order to qualify as Hard-to-Employ individuals they must be a current recipient of TANF/WTP for at least 30 months or are within 12 months of becoming ineligible or we re former TANF/WTP participants and no longer receive benefits because of time limits. Table 1. Number and Percent of Participants with a particular Risk Factor. Risk Factor Frequency Percent Current Recipient of TANF 399 82.3 Dropout 205 57.7 Poor Work History 187 38.6 Teen Pregnancy 105 21.6 No High School/GED 78 16.1 Medicaid 67 13.8 Food Stamps 61 12.6 In order to qualify as long-term Welfare Dependent, indi viduals m u st be current TANF/WTP recipients and also demonstrate other characteristics associated with long -te rm welfare dependency, e.g., school drop out, teenage pregnancy, poor work history, victim of domestic violen ce, etc. All of these criteria can be considered risks associated with welfare dependency. The increased number of risks an individual has associated with their life will certainly affect their ability to find and maintain sustainable employment (Table 1). Currently, 34% (165) of participants in the program qualify as hard-to-serve and 59% (284) qualify as long-term wel fare d ependent. The majority of participants are fema le at 89% while only 11% of the participants are male (see Figure 1 ). The oldest participant in the program to date is 58, while the y oungest is 15. The average age of program participants is 31 years. Furthermore, while most participants are female and in their early thirties, the majority are also single with over 51% (251) indicating their marital status as such (see Figure 2 ). Only 10% (44) of participants indicated their current marital status as being married. Slightly over 20% indicated that they were either divorced, separated or widowed. The implications of this demographic are important when we consider that most participants are potentially without a partner to assist them with daily household routines, of which childcare is certainly included. According to Figure 3 54% of participants have at l east one and as many as four children. Therefore the importance of child care becomes critical for single mom's who wish to work.
3 197 77 82 59 43 22 2 2 1 0 50 100 150 200 012345679 Figure 3. Participants Number of Children Racial Profile Caucasian 29% Hispanic 7% African American 64% Figure 4. Racial Profile of Participants 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 012345678910 Number of Risk Factors Figure 5. Number of Risk FactorsBeing single, and having children are important added risk factors which make it difficult to find sustainable employment for many program participants. The majority of program participants are AfricanAmerican with 64% (306). The next largest group were Caucasian with 29% (140) and 7% (32) identified themselves as Hispanic (Figure 4). There were three individuals who identified themselves individually as Filipino, Native American, and Asian. Because there were so few in these categories they were not included in Figure 4 As mentioned before, most participants have compounded risks which decreases their ability to attain or maintain sustainable employment. When we add up the number of risks with which these individuals must struggle we find that on average most participants have an average of 2.5 risk factors ( Figure 5 ). Close to 50% have at least three or more of these risk factors to contend with, some as many as ten. When the number of risk factors are compared between various groups, we find that women on average will have more risk factors than men, with a mean difference of 2.5 that is significantly different. Furthermore, Caucasians will also have a statistically significant higher mean number of risk factors. Overall, the average participant in the Welfare-toWork program is female, African-American, single, 31 years of age with more than 2 children and has, on average, 2.5 risk factors associated with their life. The combination of multiple risks and being single with children make the move from welfare to sustainable employment difficult for these individuals. The implications for their ability to succeed in this program would seem equally improbable. Yet, they do succeed and have progressed far beyond their own expectations. Why they succeed is not easy to quantify. There are strong correlations between successful completion of one educational component and another. There seems to be a certain momentum that plays a key role in building individual pride, self esteem, and success. This momentum may be the key to finding and maintaining gainful employment. This report, Profiles of the Hard to Employ and the Implications for Job Success, is part of the UF/IFAS Welfare-to-Work Initiative (Grant #A6218) funded by th e Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation (formerly Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security). The Principal Investigator is Elizabeth B. Bolton, Professor of Community Development, Departme nt of Family, Youth and Community Sciences.
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