[Logo: Homes and Communities: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] Public and Indian Housing
[Vea la versi�n en espa�ol de esta p�gina] [Contact Us] [Display the text version of this page] [Search/Index]
About HUD
About the Agency

Fair housing

What You Can Do
What Groups Can Do

Working with HUD
HUD Jobs
Web Clinics

Mailing Lists

[The U.S. government's official web portal]  

Employment and Training Program Resources - Welfare to Work Vouchers

- -
 Information by State
 Print version
jump to...
 -   Increasing Job Retention
 -   Causes of Job Loss
 -   Supportive Services that Help with Job Retention

Increasing Job Retention

Getting a job is only part of the challenge. How do you help welfare recipients and other disadvantaged workers keep their jobs once they have them?

Causes of Job Loss

The factors that lead to job loss can be both worker- and job-related. These factors include:

Difficulty making ends meet. The jobs that welfare recipients and other disadvantaged workers obtain generally pay low wages and rarely offer medical coverage or other benefits. At the same time, new workers face reductions in welfare, food stamps, and other benefits, and gain work-related costs, such as child care and clothing expenses.

Layoffs and temporary work. Many of the jobs that welfare recipients and other disadvantaged workers can attain are temporary, seasonal, or in areas where layoffs are common. Because they lack seniority in jobs, these workers are the first let go when layoffs occur.

Workplace problems. Many welfare recipients and other disadvantaged job seekers have difficulty adjusting to the workplace. Problems may include:

  • Absenteeism
  • Conflicts with supervisors
  • Miscommunication
  • Mistrust

Personal and family problems. Any number of personal problems can lead to job loss, particularly if they are recurring. These may include:

  • Breakdowns in child care arrangements
  • Breakdowns in transportation arrangements
  • Illness
  • Domestic violence

Lack of social support. Family and friends often have little work experience or other resources to share. Some may actively discourage individuals from working.

Lack of clear goals. Without clear employment goals, workers may simply walk off the job when conflicts arise, rather than dealing constructively with the problem.

Supportive Services that Help with Job Retention

A variety of services - and potential service providers - are available to help increase job retention. Program staff should identify, strengthen, and coordinate services through business partnerships with public programs, community organizations, and employers themselves.

Childcare assistance
Welfare recipients who go to work are generally eligible for transitional childcare assistance, and other subsidies may be available after it runs out. Business partnerships can facilitate childcare assistance by publicizing available benefits and streamlining application and payment processes. Employers can:

  • provide childcare on-site;
  • partner with nearby businesses; or
  • help new workers identify childcare located near the work site.

For example, Colorado's Bright Beginnings program provides employers with information on resources that can help parents balance work and family responsibilities.

Further, the Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and Omni hotels in Atlanta joined with community foundations and the Georgia Childcare Council to create the Atlanta's Inn for Children, a 24-hour child care center for employees of the hospitality industry.

Medical coverage
Transitional Medicaid benefits are also available to parents who leave welfare for work. Unfortunately, many of those who are eligible for these benefits do not make use of them. You can help by:

  • providing information to participants about these services both when they enter the initiative and before they begin a job;
  • publicizing the availability of medical coverage; and
  • facilitating access to benefits.

Some states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin, have expanded health care programs for low-income populations to address the lack of medical benefits in most entry-level positions.

Ensuring Children
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP, also known as CHIP), created by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, enacted Title XXI of the Social Security Act and allocated about $20 billion over five years to help states insure more children. SCHIP plans have been approved in all 50 states and in at least five territories. States are required to match the federal funds, but at a lower rate than Medicaid. SCHIP varies by state and may include an expansion of Medicaid, a separate program, or a hybrid of both. For information about your state's program, see The Children's Defense Web site.

Financial assistance. When people first start working, they often face new expenses for items such as:

  • work clothes;
  • transportation costs; or
  • fees for driver's licenses.

These added costs make the transition to employment difficult and can jeopardize job retention. In response, many public agencies offer one-time financial assistance to cover work-related costs. Such assistance might include grants or no-interest loans to help meet the transitional expenses of getting and staying employed.

Earned Income Tax Credit
The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can increase the financial stability of low-wage workers. Those who qualify for the EITC and file a federal tax return can:

  • get back some or all of the federal income tax that was taken out of their pay during the year;
  • receive additional cash back if the credit exceeds their tax liability; and
  • use the advance payment option if they are raising children, so that they can receive part of their EITC in their paychecks throughout the year.

In addition, many states offer their own EITCs. Employers can help facilitate receipt of these tax benefits by publicizing their availability and making any payroll changes needed to process the advance payment option. Employment programs can help by making employers aware of the EITC and offering to assist workers and employers in completing the appropriate forms.

Post-placement follow-up
Follow-up can identify issues before they result in job loss. Program staff can contact both the employer and the employee by telephone or by visiting the work site. Program staff should also be accessible so that either party can contact them when issues arise.

Post-placement follow-up is labor-intensive and requires developing a close relationship with employers. It is easier in situations in which program staff have already formed working relationships with supervisors through job development or other activities - and more difficult when placements have occurred through more formal hiring structures or larger job-listing networks.

To identify potential problems, ask questions about both work and other issues that may affect placement success such as:

  • ability to perform work;
  • satisfaction with type of work;
  • problems with work hours;
  • family or personal problems;
  • financial issues;
  • child care arrangements;
  • conflict with boss or coworkers;
  • attendance and punctuality;
  • access to transportation; and
  • health and disability issues.

Mentoring can provide personal support to new employees at low cost and little staff time. The mentors can come from a variety of sources.

  • Washington Works pairs participants with successful program graduates.
  • In Milwaukee, Ameritech, in partnership with the Milwaukee Area Technical College, pairs employees and retirees with welfare recipients entering the workforce.

Some companies use a buddy system to pair new workers with current ones who provide advice and support and help acquaint the new workers with office protocol. Providing training and guidelines to mentors ahead of time can increase their effectiveness.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
EAPs assist employees with a variety of problems that are not directly related to their jobs but that may threaten their productivity and continued employment, such as childcare, financial planning, or landlord disputes.

For example, the Marriott Corporation's Associate Resource Line is available to the company's 180,000 hourly employees. Marriott established the resource line after learning that managers spent between 15 and 50 percent of their time on "social work" activities and assisting their staff with personal problems. The 24-hour hotline is staffed by social workers who provide assistance on anything impacting employees' work. The hotline is easily accessible through an 800 number and is free and confidential.

EAPs are primarily used by large companies that have the capacity to purchase their own hotlines. Smaller companies can provide similar services by joining with others or contracting with a local community agency.

The Denver Workforce Initiative is creating its own EAP as part of its package of services. Businesses without an existing EAP who hire workers through the initiative would be able to offer access to the hotline to their employees.

Supervisory training
One of the most important elements in determining employment success and satisfaction is the relationship between a worker and his or her immediate supervisor. Unfortunately, supervisors of entry-level workers often have little training in supervisory skills.

Kansas City's Local Investment Commission developed a training seminar available to employers who hire through their program. The training includes strategies for managing a diverse workforce, understanding the perspective of former welfare recipients, and establishing support systems. Employers also receive a resource list to help them address issues that may arise.

Content current as of 30 October 2001   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
FOIA Privacy Web Policies and Important Links  Home [logo: Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity]
[Logo: HUD seal] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112   TTY: (202) 708-1455
Find the address of a HUD office near you