Unrealized Gains

Mae Watson Grote
November 1, 2004

Unrealized Gains:
How Workforce Organizations Can Put Money
in the Pockets of Low-Wage Workers
Economic Security: An Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
The Wage Gap: When the Ends Don?t Meet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
An Antidote to the Wage Gap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
The Impact of Work Supports: An Illustrative Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
The Accessibility of Work Supports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
What Does This Have To Do With Me?
A Role for Workforce Development Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Three Organizations Pursuing Economic Security
Making a Financial Transformation Too ?
The Cara Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Preparing People Economically and Emotionally for Work ?
Women?s Housing and Economic Development Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
?Paying the Bills and Feeding the Soul? ?
Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
Economic Security Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
1 Money Management 101 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
Built-In Curricula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
Three Paths to a Curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17
The Nuts and Bolts of Financial Literacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
Getting Started with Money Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
2 Making Ends Meet with ?Income Packaging? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
Addressing the Wage Gap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
Putting the Pieces Together: Creating an ?Income Package? . . . . . . . . . . . .25
This Work Support Has Been Brought to You By . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26
A Note About Child Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
Getting Started with ?Income Packaging? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
3 Putting Income Packages into Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
?Sticky Wickets? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
A Measure of Quality Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
Multidimensional Advocacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
Getting Started with Putting Income Packages into Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
4 Ensuring Economic Security After Employment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
Keeping Graduates on Track . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
?What?s an HMO,W-4 and FICA ? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
? and FDIC, EITC and IDA?? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Getting Started with Ensuring Economic Security After Employment . . . . . .36
In Closing: Challenges for the Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Avoiding ?This Is Just Another Thing to Do?: Creating Staff Investment . . . . . . .39
Partnering With Employers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Tracking Economic Security Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
Contact Information for Featured Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
Resources for Work Supports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45
Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49
Unrealized Gains
Realized Gains
Marsha Dinkins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Sara McFarland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
Veronica Cryers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37
More Approaches
JVS?s Center for Careers and Lifelong Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
The Transition to Work Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
Poor People Can?t Manage Money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17
There Are as Many Goals as People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Make the Impact Immediately Relevant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Work Is Always Better than Welfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Create a Comfortable Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
Economic Security Only Applies to Our Participants . . . . . . . . .40
Unrealized Gains 1
Marsha Dinkins
Certified Nursing Assistant
Chicago, Illinois
Marsha Dinkins was working full time as a home health aide, earning minimum wage,
caring for her three children ? and living in a homeless shelter. To get back on her feet,
she needed a new place to live. With the help of a case manager at the shelter, she looked
at a variety of apartments, but soon realized that she could not afford the rent on
her salary.
Marsha quit her job and enrolled in a job readiness program and a Certified Nursing
Assistant training class at The Cara Program. While there, she attended a series of
Financial Self-Sufficiency Training workshops. Marsha also met weekly with a Client
Support Specialist who worked with her to create a household budget by incorporating her
prospective salary, housing needs and household expenses.
Soon after graduation, she started work as a CNA at Northwest Memorial Hospital earning
$11 per hour. In the year since she left the shelter and graduated from The Cara Program,
she completed a phlebotomy course and was considering another class in radiology, both
made possible because she had become eligible for financial aid.
The cost of living in Chicago is high! I have three kids, two sons and a daughter, so
one bedroom wasn?t enough. I needed a two-bedroom, which was going to be $650 to
$800. Leaving the shelter, I had to be able to pay utilities, but my job wasn?t even
enough to pay the rent.
My case worker asked me if I wanted to go to a job program. But you don?t quit a job
without having a better job lined up! I thought about it hard and quit. . . . I talked
with my case worker, and she said I could make more. The shelter treated us well,
but I didn?t want my kids to grow up there. The shelter was bottom ? it couldn?t
get any worse.
The financial [literacy] class got me to work on my student loan. It was the only thing
on my credit report that was bad. They showed us about how we could have savings
and houses, different ways they could use the money and grow it. I used to go to the
store and say, ?Oh, I am going to get this!? Now I pick X amount of money and use
that to get everything I need. I started to pay off my [defaulted student] loan . . . I paid
consistently $88 a month for 12 months then they took me out of default status.
I was just talking to my Client Support Specialist about my goals. [I accomplished my]
five-year goals in a year! . . . The money I?ve saved is for my children. I?m not
interested in HUD housing just yet. I need more money than just a down payment;
the roof will need to be replaced or whatever. I don?t want to work paycheck to
paycheck just to maintain the house.
At first I was like, ?why do I need to look at my goals?? But it looks toward the
future. I always set a goal to be a good mom, but that?s not enough. The kids are
getting bigger. They need to go to college. And they can?t go just by my good graces.
Realized Gains
2 WorkingVentures
Workforce development is, at its core, about economic security: employment enables
people to support themselves and their families. Workforce development practitioners
instill participants with the confidence to conduct successful interviews and negotiate
salaries and benefits; they arm their participants with marketable skills, from pneumaticpress
operation to phlebotomy; and they prepare them to manage relationships with
supervisors and coworkers. The result is employment ? and a paycheck.
The Wage Gap: When the Ends Don?t Meet. Often workers struggle. Whether
they lack sufficient skills to command higher pay or employers fail to provide adequate
wages, frequently there is a gap between what new workers receive and what they need.
Employment does not necessarily guarantee solvency ? that is, the ability to meet all one?s
financial responsibilities.
No matter the origin of the problem, it is clear that many entry-level workers face a wage
gap. Researchers have studied and documented the difference between earnings and
economic security:| Full-time work at minimum wage does not enable a family to escape poverty.
As the National Center for Children in Poverty points out: ?A full-time job
at the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour pays less than $11,000 a year ?
well below the poverty level for a family of three or four.?1| Studies of people leaving welfare have found that their wages average $6.50
to $7.50 per hour and that more than 50 percent have incomes below the
federal poverty line.2| Moreover, when living expenses are included ? food, housing, transportation
and child care, for example ? researchers at The Urban Institute found that
one in six working American families had incomes that fell below a basic
family budget.3
Economic insecurity is not only a hardship for the people experiencing it; it is frustrating
for workforce development practitioners as well. As teachers, confidence-builders and
workforce intermediaries, it is difficult for practitioners to see the hard work that goes
into making a successful match between employee and employer thwarted by labor-market
forces beyond their control.
Economic Security:
An Introduction
Unrealized Gains 3
4 WorkingVentures
An Antidote to the Wage Gap. Work supports ? the subsidy or service that
supports a person?s ability to obtain or retain employment ? can be an antidote to the
wage gap. By supplementing earnings, work supports narrow the wage gap, which in turn
improves employment outcomes. Work supports such as earned income disregards and the
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are proven incentives to employment.4 And researchers
have demonstrated that child care and health care assistance have a favorable impact on
job retention.5 Work supports also lower welfare recidivism: When former welfare
recipients receive health insurance, child-care subsidies or public assistance grants for
emergencies, they are less likely to return to welfare.6
Obviously, work supports
lift earnings. What is not
as obvious is that work
supports frequently have
such a large impact that
families are lifted from
poverty. Receiving work
supports while employed
can often mean the
difference between living
above or below the federal
poverty line.7
The Impact of Work Supports: An Illustrative Example. Below is a
hypothetical household budget for Marsha
Dinkins, the Certified Nursing Assistant
featured at the beginning of this report.
After graduating from The Cara Program,
she became employed as a CNA and moved
from the homeless shelter to her own
apartment. Before she left, and with the help
of her Client Support Specialist at The Cara
Program, Marsha created a budget that likely
looked like the one on the right. Given her
typical expenses and low wages, Marsha
would have faced an $817 deficit at the end
of each month.8
Work Supports DEFINED. ?Work support? is defined in this
report as any subsidy or service that supports one?s ability to
obtain or retain employment. For example: child-care subsidies,
earned income disregards, Food Stamps, health care (State
Children Health Insurance Programs and Medicaid), housing
assistance (Section 8 housing and emergency heating fuel
assistance), tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child
Tax Credit),Temporary Assistance for Needy Families,
transportation assistance, transitional welfare benefits and
unemployment insurance. ?Income supports? are commonly
thought of as relieving a demonstrated financial need, and ?work
supports? are associated with elevating earned income. But in
the workforce development field, financial and employment needs
are often indistinguishable; therefore, the broad definition above
will be used in this report.
Marsha Dinkins?s Hypothetical
Monthly Household Budget
Rent $800.00
Food $464.00
Transportation $75.00
Child Care $522.00
Health Care $284.00
Basic Needs $215.00
Taxes $362.00
Total Monthly Expenses $2722.00
Marsha?s Monthly Salary
(at $11.00/hour) $1905.00
Deficit ? $817.00
With a variety of work supports however, Marsha and her family can turn their monthly
budget around and actually create a small surplus at the end of each month:9
Marsha?s estimated Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) totals $2,278 for the year, but she is
eligible for up to $1,563 in advance EITC, or $130 a month to alleviate her tax obligation.
When Marsha files her taxes, she will receive the balance of her EITC ($715), and the
Child Tax Credit ($1,236).
By filling an $817 deficit and creating a $91 surplus with a patchwork of work supports,
Marsha and her Client Support Specialist have closed her wage gap. Her ability to make
ends meet will surely help her to keep her job and maintain her new home ? in short,
to achieve a measure of economic security.
The Accessibility of Work Supports. Despite the promise of work supports, the
wage gap is compounded by low-income workers? inability to access the very remedy
intended to close the gap. Many new workers go without the supports needed to make a
successful transition into the workforce.
To cite but three examples, Food Stamps, child-care subsidies and health care insurance
are all underutilized. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only slightly more
than half of working people eligible for Food Stamps actually receive them.10 Most families
who are eligible for subsidized child care go without: only 15 to 20 percent of families
who qualify for federally funded child-care subsidies actually receive them.11 Publicly
supported health care insurance suffers from similar under-use. ?One review of recent
studies found that one third or more of children and most adults were no longer receiving
Medicaid after they left welfare ? a level not explained by the availability of
employer-provided health insurance.?12
Marsha Dinkins?s Hypothetical Monthly Household Budget With Work Supports
Before Work Supports After
Rent $800.00 $800.00
Food $464.00 $193.00 in Food Stamps $271.00
Transportation $75.00 $75.00
Child Care $522.00 $435.00 subsidy from the Illinois Child
Care Assistance Program $87.00
Health Care $284.00 $150.00 from Illinois KidCare Rebate plan $134.00
Basic Needs $215.00 $215.00
Taxes $362.00 $130.00 in Advance EITC $232.00
Total Monthly Expenses $2722.00 $1814.00
Marsha?s Monthly Salary $1905.00 $1905.00
Deficit or Surplus ? $817.00 $91.00
Unrealized Gains 5
6 WorkingVentures
Researchers have found several common reasons for this under-use of work supports.
For one, many workers simply do not know that such supports exist. Studies have
revealed that lack of knowledge is often a barrier to access.13 Another is that the systems
are primarily designed for welfare recipients, not working families. Without after-work
operating hours or child care, ?the delivery systems often are not designed to serve parents
in the workforce.?14 The process of obtaining work supports is oftentimes too difficult for
already-overwhelmed low-wage workers. Many eligible workers also feel a stigma in
obtaining work supports ? that it is shameful to receive a ?handout.? Researchers have
also cited burdensome application processes,15 confusion about eligibility,16 and different
and conflicting rules.17
What Does This Have to Do with Me? A Role for Workforce
Development Organizations. It may seem counterintuitive for workforce
development organizations ? charged with helping people ?get off? welfare ? to concern
themselves with work supports. But connecting participants to work supports is, in fact,
a logical evolution of their mission.
There is no one-stop for work supports. Transitional welfare benefits are managed by local
social service districts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture administers Food Stamps, and
Earned Income Tax Credit refunds are distributed by the Internal Revenue Service, to
name just a few. With no centralized approach to supporting low-income workers, access
and receipt of work supports is frequently hit-or-miss, or, as noted earlier, more often
a miss.
In contrast, workforce development organizations are in a unique position: practitioners
are right there with participants in the nexus of employment and unemployment. As such,
they have an opportunity to help participants access the very supports that will improve
their chance of obtaining and retaining employment. As Julie Strawn and Karin Martinson
state: ?The most critical point for connecting new workers with child care and other
benefits is when they first enter employment.?18
Seizing this critical point before work means facilitating participants? financial
independence for the organizations featured here ? Women?s Housing and Economic
Development Corporation, The Cara Program and Maine Centers for Women, Work
and Community. Managers and staff observe that their efforts help participants choose
to work, enable graduates to keep their jobs, and encourage them to think about
career advancement.
Given the demands of performance-based contracting, focusing on economic security
allows them to get more bang for their buck as well. This work is in their organizational
self-interest as the workforce development field is increasingly held accountable for
graduates? ability to retain their jobs. Additional resources spent on facilitating work
supports can mean improved performance and increased revenue.
Moreover, these organizations believe concern with their participants? and graduates?
economic well-being is a natural extension of their mission. Workforce development
programs create the space and time for people to reexamine or discover their role in the
labor market. By helping them figure out their career aspirations, managing their
expectations of the workplace or by teaching them a new trade or skill, workforce
development practitioners are often ushering significant changes in participants? lives.
Organizations that address their participants? economic security complement and reinforce
these changes: career goals buttressed by financial goals, knowledge about workplace
culture made stronger by knowing that work supports will enable them to keep the job,
and new ?hard? skills supplemented with new budgeting skills.
This report aims to provide practical guidance to workforce development organizations
considering helping participants accomplish true financial independence. The report
complements recent work by MDRC, including its Work Advancement and Support Center
demonstration and Building Bridges to Self-Sufficiency paper, which focuses on policy responses
related to low-wage workers? access to work supports, employment retention and
advancement; Jobs for the Future?s Private Employers and Public Benefits report, which
examines work supports from the employer?s perspective; and Seedco, whose report
Benefits and Low Wage Work provides lessons learned from its New York City-based
EarnFair Alliance.
In the following pages, profiles of Women?s Housing and Economic Development
Corporation, The Cara Program and Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community are
provided. The report then details how these three organizations approach this work, from
integrating financial literacy classes, to ?income packaging,? to advocacy. In addition to
Marsha Dinkins?s narrative, which opened the report, two other workers? stories, pointers
on combating common myths, tips for program delivery, resources for getting started and
examples of alternative strategies are interspersed throughout the text. In closing, and
looking to the future, the report discusses the challenges raised for the field by addressing
participants? economic security.
Unrealized Gains 7
8 WorkingVentures
?We were sick and tired of seeing
our ?success stories? back in the
shelters,? said Eric Weinheimer,
President of The Cara Program,
when asked why they had decided
to focus on participants?
financial solvency and economic
security. In taking a closer look at
why some graduates failed, staff
identified a trend. While the
organization?s underlying
mission is to transform people?s
lives, participants were not always
transforming the way they thought
about money. For many participants ? all of whom are homeless or at risk of
homelessness ? their inability to find employment, secure permanent housing or think
about the future was in some way connected to bad credit, huge debts or defaulted loans.
Even though there were more people achieving economic security than there were relapses,
staff were frustrated watching clients buy high-ticket luxury items with their tax refunds or
?max out? new credit cards after they got a job. Stephanie Wernet, then Director of Client
Support, remarked that participants were ?still in survival mode, only with more money?
because they were focusing on what made them feel good in the short term.
The Cara Program, which is named for the Gaelic word ?friend,? originally structured its
programming around four areas of ?transformation?: family, education and career, health
and housing. Staff added a fifth area of transformation ? participants? financial health ?
not only to address those who were in survival mode, but also because staff found that
even when graduates were making sound financial decisions, many were unable to sustain
solvency because they would not, or could not, ?save for a rainy day.? Staff noticed that
graduates? ability to weather periodic expenses ? moving costs, doctor?s bills or back-toschool
clothing ? often distinguished those who achieved economic security from those
who returned to the shelters.
Financial Self-Sufficiency Training. From 8:30 to 9:00 every morning, all
participants ? and some graduates on their way to work ? gather in the basement of a
former Roman Catholic Church convent that houses The Cara Program?s offices for Daily
Motivationals. The brief gathering is an opportunity for participants to share what is
motivating them that day (for example, the prospect of a job, their children or a new
beginning) in the form of poetry, serenity prayers and lots of songs (everything from hymns
to the Village People).
Three Organizations Pursuing Economic Security
Making a Financial Transformation Too ?
The Cara Program
The Cara Program
Chicago, Illinois
Founded: 1991 by a retired information
technology entrepreneur
Staff: 21
People Served in 2003: 340
Referral Sources: Participants are often
referred to the program from homeless
shelters and substance abuse recovery facilities
Length of Program: Six to eight weeks,
depending on skills training
Areas of Employment: Clerical, food service,
housekeeping, customer service and manufacturing
In the first four weeks of The Cara Program, when participants are working on job
readiness skills like self-esteem building and ethics, they also attend a series of Financial
Self-Sufficiency Training workshops. The first workshop, on the program?s opening day,
introduces participants to goal-setting ? potentially a daunting task for people living in a
homeless shelter. But Cara staff walk them through the process, teaching them to identify
timetables, create short-term goals and learn how to periodically assess progress.
Participants also take Financial Planning, Credit and Debt Management, and Investing
workshops, which equip them with the information and tools to achieve the long-term
goals they articulated and mapped in the first workshop. At the end of the four weeks,
participants move into job-search workshops or specialized skills training, like a
certificate-bearing environmental services class or a food-service training class.
Cara?s Client Support Specialists meet with participants weekly. They complete a Needs
Assessment with each client, examining current housing, financial, medical, child care and
educational circumstances. They ask participants probing questions about outstanding
credit card or loan debt, child support or alimony obligations, and whether they are behind
in making payments. The Assessment serves several purposes. For one, it is a snapshot of
a client?s current situation, thus positioning that client for the workshops and individual
counseling. It also serves as the starting place for support services. Client Support
Specialists help participants with research such as obtaining credit reports and comparing
checking account options, and refer them to organizations such as Consumer Credit
Counseling and Legal Aid to help them pursue their goals. Incorporating a focus on
participants? financial security complements ? and reinforces ? the whole-person
transformation that The Cara Program aims to achieve.
Unrealized Gains 9
10 WorkingVentures
?Sometimes I don?t even want
to talk my clients into getting a
job,? lamented a staff person at
Women?s Housing and
Economic Development
Corporation, or WHEDCo
(pronounced ?WED-co?),
speaking to the challenge of
assuring long-term welfare
recipients that despite low
wages and lack of benefits,
employment is an opportunity
to be seized. WHEDCo has
met this challenge by
addressing participants?
economic security. They found
that this approach prepared
participants economically and
emotionally to leave welfare. As the dust of welfare reform began to settle, WHEDCo
staff recognized that many long-term recipients were apprehensive about leaving welfare
because they could not financially justify the alternatives. Barbara Zerzan, Vice President
for Programs, said: ?They are not going to want to take a job when they can?t support
their family.?
Staff at WHEDCo became convinced that focusing on participants? financial health could
help them prepare economically to leave welfare. A few people familiar with New York?s
Self-Sufficiency Standard (a tool developed by Wider Opportunities for Women and the
Women?s Center for Education and Career Advancement that demonstrates how regional
and household differences affect families? abilities to sustain themselves) led a key
discussion at a staff meeting. It was decided that using the standard would provide ?a
framework for WHEDCo?s economic advancement mission,? according to Donna Ruben,
WHEDCo?s Director of Contracts and Evaluation Research. The standard revealed that
many WHEDCo participants needed jobs that paid $21 per hour to support themselves
and their families. Significant structural changes to the regional economy were beyond the
staff?s capacity, but they could help participants fill the wage gap with work supports.
Three Organizations Pursuing Economic Security
Preparing People Economically
and Emotionally for Work ?
Women?s Housing and
Economic Development
The Bronx, New York
Founded: 1991
Staff: 120
Participants in Innovations at Work in 2003: 700
Referrals: Welfare recipients and homeless
people are referred to WHEDCo by the New York City
Human Resources Administration?s Work Experience
Length of Program: Two weeks full time, then part
time for an average of six to seven weeks while
participants also go to their Work Experience
Program assignment
Areas of Employment: Health care,
administrative/clerical, security, legal case managers,
commercial driving, food service and
information technology
After reviewing graduates? starting wages and incomes, staff calculated that ?income
packaging? ? that is, identifying the gap between income and economic security and
then filling it with work supports ? would ?reduce pressure on wages,? said Zerzan.
Alleviating that pressure, staff concluded, would facilitate clients? ability to transfer from
welfare to work, and might improve their own programmatic outcomes too.
In addition to preparing participants for work economically, WHEDCo decided that they
needed to address participants? emotional needs as well. Staff began by simply going over
welfare budgeting procedures with participants, demonstrating how they would be able to
keep some of their welfare grant initially, but how later earnings would reduce it dollar for
dollar. ?By letting them know upfront what will happen with their grants, by
contextualizing it, people don?t feel so afraid to leave it,? said a staff person.
The Self-Sufficiency Calculator Workshop. Innovations at Work ? WHEDCo?s
job readiness and job search program for welfare recipients ? begins its financial literacy
instruction with the Self-Sufficiency Calculator Workshop. Employment Case Managers
start by comparing a variety of scenarios on flip-chart paper. For example, staff create a
public assistance budget for a three-person household, showing that a full-time Work
Experience Program assignment ?earns? them $3 per hour. They then compare that to an
entry-level job paying $6 per hour. ?WHEDCo has doubled your income!? jokes staff.
The group is introduced to the Self-Sufficiency Standard in an exercise that asks them to
create a list of all their needs and expenses should they seek employment: child care,
transportation and health care. Participants then turn to their own households. With the
Internet-based Calculator, they add their family members, rent and food costs. Because
participants are without earned income at this point, the Calculator typically reports back
how far away they are from the Self-Sufficiency Standard and what work supports are
available to help achieve that threshold. Participants are then asked to go back and enter
typical starting wages, $6 to $8 per hour, to see how the picture changes; thus, they are
learning in a concrete way how a paycheck can replace a welfare check.
The Employment Case Managers build upon the Self-Sufficiency Calculator Workshop
with a financial literacy course in 10 modules. The first few sessions ? introduction to
banking, debt reduction and next steps ? take place in the first two weeks. When
participants are attending their Work Experience Program assignment, they come to
WHEDCo part time for job-search assistance and are able to take the next modules on
saving, consumer protections, credit and home buying. At this time participants are using
their new skills to draft a Self-Sufficiency Plan. Created with the help of the Employment
Case Managers, the Plan starts with earned income and a public benefits package and then,
over time, outlines steps to earn raises. By adding the Workshop to their program and
creating a Plan for each participant, graduates are better prepared economically, and
emotionally, for work.
Unrealized Gains 11
12 WorkingVentures
?Many of our participants understand
that the low [public assistance] benefits
mean poverty forever, but at least they
could count on it,? said Linda
Buckmaster, Women, Work and
Community?s Employment and Training
Coordinator, explaining why her
organization began helping participants
figure out how to make work pay. As a
result of welfare reform, more and more
participants were asking staff how they
could realistically replace public
assistance with earned income.
Frustrated participants would often say:
?My case worker won?t tell me what?s
going to happen,? recounted a staff person,
so they had them bring in paystubs and they figured it out together. Participants were
also becoming increasingly attuned to how their job choices affected their bottom line.
?We were hearing from participants: ?Can I afford an hour commute for a $6-an-hour
job??; ?If I go back to school, will I be able to get a job that will pay the loan??,? said Linda.
To meet this need, Women, Work and Community created a new hybrid of its workforce
development and financial literacy programs in which participants would create a personal
plan for career satisfaction and economic security, prompting one staff member to call the
program: ?Career Exploration: Paying the Bills and Feeding the Soul.?
Women, Work and Community developed the new program not only to address
participants? evolving needs, but also because it fulfills the organization?s expanding
mission. As a women-run agency whose primary purpose is to serve Maine women,
addressing women?s financial health and fostering financial independence is a natural goal.
Several realities reinforce the need to focus on women?s financial independence: Women
typically live longer than men, live in poverty and are heads of household.
But a program devoted to combining workforce development and economic security was
still a subtle shift in Women, Work and Community?s approach. Started over 25 years ago
as a displaced-homemakers? program, Women, Work and Community now offers dozens of
classes in workforce development, microenterprise, asset development and leadership.
?The people we serve are going through change; they bring that dynamic, and we model
that,? explained Gilda Nardone, Women, Work and Community?s Executive Director.
Observing Maine?s climate for service organizations, Nardone concluded, ?Many of the
organizations that were content to carve out their piece 20 years ago aren?t here anymore.?
Three Organizations Pursuing Economic Security
?Paying the Bills and Feeding the Soul??
Maine Centers for Women,
Work and Community
Women,Work and Community
Augusta, Maine
Founded: 1978
Staff: 32 in 18 offices throughout the state
Graduates of All Workforce
Development Programs in 2003: 679
Participant Demographics:Welfare recipients,
displaced homemakers, incumbent workers
and dislocated workers
Length of Program: Eight weeks, depending
on location
Areas of Employment: Clerical, health care,
construction, communications technology,
financial services and education
Creating Your Future. Women, Work and Community?s hybrid program, Creating
Your Future, is usually broken down into two parts, depending on region and the
demographics of the participants. In the first section, participants turn inward and explore
personal values, career goals, personal and technical skills, and work and volunteer history.
Because financial literacy is woven into the program, they also examine financial needs and
wants. Participants and instructors also discuss the value of a homemaker?s salary and
how household budgets form the basis of the national economy.
?If the first part is summed up as, ?Who Am I?? then the second is ?What?s Out There??,?
said a staff person. The self-awareness exercises from the first section provide a
foundation for the next section, as participants are asked to research, then connect, career
interests and financial needs with the current labor market. Employers frequently come in
as guest speakers and talk to classes about various sectors and careers with their
companies. Some participants ?try out? new occupations with job shadowing assignments.
Participants develop a Career Action Plan with short-term and intermediate steps to get
an entry-level job or training, which then progresses to a professional job or higher
education. Accompanying the Career Action Plan is a Financial Portfolio, which has
participants list immediate strategies for increasing income and stretching their dollars and
even features their retirement goals. Creating Your Future?s dual focus ? finances and
career ? allows ?students to understand what they have, what they need, what they want
and how to get there,? said Eloise Vitelli, Women, Work and Community?s Director of
Program and Policy Development.
Unrealized Gains 13
14 WorkingVentures
Sara McFarland
Head Start Family Advocate
Mt.Vernon, Maine
Sara McFarland?s participation in Maine?s innovative ?Parents as Scholars? program
allowed her to obtain a college degree in early childhood education while she was receiving
public assistance. Unfortunately, her first year after graduation ? and off public assistance
? was not easy. During that first year, Sara was sporadically employed at several different
child-care centers. The lack of stability was impeding her effort to support herself and her
While she was receiving help from her parents, Sara started classes with Women, Work
and Community because she wanted to learn how to make it on her own. She hoped to
get her expenses under control and create a plan for unforeseen circumstances. And then
there was the farm she promised her children.
I had a few jobs right after school, but I didn?t know how to interview them; I didn?t
know how to figure out if the place was functioning well. It was a disaster. Three
jobs later, I landed at my parents; the kids and I had to move in with them for a
summer. . . . I was so desperate that I was picking blueberries. It was depressing:
here I was, a 30-year-old college graduate picking blueberries. I wasn?t able to plan
ahead. My life was sporadic and compulsive, which just wasn?t working with two
kids. We were living crisis to crisis, and I was always asking my parents for money.
It was so discouraging to keep saying to my kids: ?Once I graduate, everything will
be alright,? then to only have everything fall apart. I promised my kids that we?d
have a farm some day. My kids started to not believe me, and I started to not
believe me.
One of the most eye-opening things is putting down all those little things, gifts and
car registration. I wrote down where every penny went for a week. I didn?t realize
how much money it was. Then there was the whole interest thing: the amount of
money it costs to buy something on interest than if you purchase something outright.
When I was done with the class, I enrolled in [Women, Work and Community?s
Family Development Account program] and I made a $50 monthly deposit and it was
matched with $100. I couldn?t take money out. The minimum time you had to stay
in [before payout] was six months, but I was in for over a year.
[Six months ago we bought] a red barn and a white farmhouse. I didn?t buy the
house by myself, I bought it with my partner. I didn?t want to buy the house without
having my job and career all set. We came into buying the house with equal
amounts of money. . . . [The house is on] a half an acre of land. We even have
chickens. It is a very comfortable community. . . . The people at the general store
knew our closing date before we did.
I?m so glad I took the class. There is a whole industry out there thriving on people
living in poverty. But [Women, Work and Community staff] were genuine.
Realized Gains
Each of the organizations featured here serves
different people, has different services and has
different reasons for approaching workforce
development with a focus on participants?
financial health. Nevertheless, when compared,
four distinct strategies emerge ? each building
upon the other ? that enable these organizations
to successfully execute their work.
Money Management 101. With a variety of curricula, Women, Work
and Community, The Cara Program and WHEDCo each integrate financial
education into broader life skills training.
Making Ends Meet with ?Income Packaging.? These organizations
also help participants make ends meet by ?income packaging? ? that is,
identifying the gap between income and economic security, then filling the gap
with work supports.
Putting Income Packages into Action. Each of these three
organizations helps to put the income package plan into action with a variety
of advocacy efforts.
Ensuring Economic Security After Employment. The Cara
Program, WHEDCo and Women, Work and Community all provide ongoing
support after participants are employed.
Economic Security
Unrealized Gains 15
16 WorkingVentures
Participants in these organizations need basic financial education not only because they
typically lack access to mainstream banking and financial institutions, but also because
the diversity and volume of financial product offerings have proliferated. As such,
?financial knowledge has become not just a convenience but an essential survival tool.?19
Many workforce development organizations have met this need by incorporating a
financial literacy curriculum into their program offerings. Moreover, an understanding
of household budgets gives participants the foundation for the income packaging and
employment retention work ahead.
Built-In Curricula. For the organizations featured here, it is often difficult to
distinguish helping participants manage their money from other workforce development
programming. At WHEDCo, the Self-Sufficiency Calculator and Workshop are built into
the case management and ?life skills? or job readiness aspects of the programs. ?The
[financial literacy] class is really just a part of our Resource Room and soft skills training,?
said an instructor at WHEDCo.
Cara Program participants explore and create financial goals concurrently with their goals
for health, career, family, education and housing. They build money-management skills as
a part of the job-skills training program. Similarly, at Women, Work and Community, staff
see participants? new financial skills as contributing to their marketable skill set.
Money Management 101| Built-In Curricula| Three Paths to a Curriculum| The Nuts and Bolts of Financial Literacy| Financial Goals: A Road Map for Life| Money Attitudes = Money Habits| Budgeting, Ah . . .You Mean, Spending Plans| The ABCs of Mainstream Financial Institutions| Pay Yourself First| Another Look at Credit Cards: Debt Management
and Reduction| Getting Started with Money Management
This integrated approach is rooted in experience. Initially WHEDCo offered the calculator
and workshop only to graduates. Barbara Zerzan, WHEDCo?s Vice President for
Programs, incorporated the material earlier, cognizant that some participants leave the
program before graduation. ?Welfare budgeting and transitional benefits is so primary;
everyone should understand it,? she said. Moreover, ?it is very hard to get participants
back in? after graduation. Stephanie Wernet at The Cara Program confronted the same
challenge: ?It is very difficult to get them back in for workshops; it is very hard to capture
their attention.? Instead, they added the financial components to a comprehensive
program. This
way, observed
Wernet, ?we make
sure they get a job
that meets their
financial needs.?
Three Paths to a Curriculum. Each organization uses a curriculum that was
created, or largely rewritten, by staff. Not one organization plucked a course from the
Internet and tacked it on wholesale: each listened to participants? needs and heeded staff?s
experiences in developing a tool unique to their work.
After examining many different financial literacy curricula, WHEDCo discovered that there
were few geared to low-income people. ?Many simply assumed people had banking
accounts,? said the instructor, when perhaps less than 5 percent of WHEDCo?s
participants actually have a checking or savings account. They eventually settled on a
course created by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) because ?it does not
tell them what to do with their money, it is about giving them the tools to make their own
decisions,? said the instructor. However, the present version is different than the original.
By focusing on the information immediately usable for participants, staff eventually
?weeded out higher-level stuff on federal law,? such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
And, unless the participants have particularly basic needs, they also skip some of the
fundamentals, such as ?Why should you keep your money in the bank?? or a glossary of
basic banking terms. These changes have resulted in a course tailored to the needs of
their participants.
Poor People Can?t Manage Money MYTH. Lack of
experience with mainstream banking and financial institutions does not,
of course, mean low-income people are poor money managers. Nor does
it mean that what they do know is not transferable. ?People are better
money managers than they think they are,? said a staff person at Women,
Work and Community. ?By living on the edge, one acquires street-level
knowledge of how to make things work.? Trainers capitalize on
participants? knowledge by conveying to them at the start of the
workshop that ?the intricacies of public assistance are not that different
from paying taxes and [meeting] other obligations of working people.?
Unrealized Gains 17
18 WorkingVentures
While WHEDCo modified an off-the-shelf curriculum, staff at The Cara Program created
their own. Client Support Specialists were intimately aware of their participants? financial
knowledge and needs based on the issues that arose in case management. They created
a curriculum that works, even though ?no one on staff has a background in social work
or psychology,? because staff drew from what participants were experiencing, said
Wernet. But they did look elsewhere for the technical aspects. For areas such as credit
histories and reports, for example, they sought material from local banks and consumer
advocacy groups.
Women, Work and Community staff created their financial literacy curriculum not once,
but twice. The first version of Creating Your Future was geared to meet the needs of
welfare recipients, but as the organization began to serve more dislocated and older
workers, the staff began to pull back from the welfare to work rules and focused more on
financial literacy that applied to everyone. A curriculum committee of trainers, line staff
and management revamped the course and, as a result, welfare rules no longer dominate
the curriculum and have been limited to a single module. Creating Your Future now has
broad appeal and is sophisticated enough to vary according to region, given the local
economies and available supports.
The Nuts and Bolts of Financial Literacy. While each organization
developed courses to meet their own participants? needs and traveled different paths to
produce a final product, there are several common components. WHEDCo, Women,
Work and Community and The Cara Program cover many of the same areas in their
financial literacy courses: goals, attitudes toward money, budgeting, financial instruments,
savings, and debt management and reduction.
Financial Goals:A Road Map for Life. Similar to career ladders, goals provide
participants with a reason to think about the future. The organizations described here
found that when participants are working toward a goal, they are motivated ? to create
a budget, stick with the program or start a low-paying job.
?When we first rolled out the financial
literacy class, it didn?t go over well; clients
just stared at us,? admitted Wernet. ?We
quickly realized that we were doing it
backwards: we need to explain to them
why it is important first.? Maintaining
participants? attention was an early challenge
for Cara staff, but, after three years, the curriculum now includes ?many more elements
related to their goals and visions for the future.? Because staff relate each part of the
She would meet with us one-on-one, you know,
confidential, and talk about what we might need
to do to actually achieve our goals, whether it
was to save for retirement or get out of credit
card debt . . . it was real helpful; kind of a road
map for each thing you wanted to do.
? Women,Work and Community participant
work to financial goals, participants are ready for the hard parts. Wernet cites the example
of a client set on paying for her child?s college education: ?When we got to crunching the
numbers, she was really open to it, saying ?I need to quit smoking so I can save more
money!? She arrived there because she conceptualized it on her own.? With goals as the
driver, the difficult or mundane parts become purposeful.
Linda Buckmaster at Women, Work and Community said that the goal-setting process
also helps determine the pace of the class, which participants need one-on-one help and
the type of homework ? of which, she said, ?there is usually a lot.? For example, Linda
helps them figure out what they need to research (?What is the interest on your credit
cards??), who they need to call (credit reporting agencies) and what information they
need to obtain (?What can I expect to get from Social Security when I retire??). One
graduate described it this way: ?Separating my goal down into steps that I can take right
now was very fulfilling . . . it made the kind of foggy vision become a reality.?
Money Attitudes = Money Habits.
In addition to goal-setting, staff frequently ask
participants to examine their own feelings about
money. Similar to the personality tests that
gauge interest in careers, these curricula ask
participants to think about their spending,
savings and budgeting behaviors. A trainer at
Women, Work and Community observed:
?Money isn?t just about the nuts and bolts of
cash; without an understanding of your emotions
about money, you can?t change.? A first step is
?Money Genealogy,? in which participants
explore how they first learned how to manage
their money. Likewise, Client Support Specialists
at The Cara Program frequently explore how
their homeless clients may feel more comfortable
living paycheck to paycheck. In understanding their own behaviors, participants gain
confidence that they actually have more control over their money.
Budgeting, Ah . . .You Mean, Spending Plans. ?We don?t use the word
?budget?; it has a negative connotation, like the word ?diet?,? said Linda Buckmaster,
explaining her preference for the phrase ?Spending Plan.? No matter the title, each
organization devotes a good portion of its curriculum to helping participants compare
their income with their expenses, track spending habits and examine costs they can cut.
WHEDCo calls this chapter ?Money Matters? ? it is where participants first learn the
difference between needs and wants. Diana Perez, Director of Home-Based Childcare
Economic Security TIP:
There Are as Many Goals as
People. Each organization discovered
the need to appreciate that participants
have a wide range of goals. A Women,
Work and Community trainer described
a class in which one participant had the
goal of starting her own business, while
another simply wanted to be able to buy
groceries that week. And Employment
Case Managers at WHEDCo recognize
that some participants may be
overwhelmed by goals, so as they work
with them, they simply refer to
?activities? instead. Being sensitive to
the fact that different people have different
goals has allowed these organizations
to build trust with their participants.
Unrealized Gains 19
20 WorkingVentures
Services at WHEDCo, said the class requires participants to ?examine their spending
habits; impulsive spending is always a big issue.? After participants understand how to
categorize their expenses, they use the Self-Sufficiency Calculator as a budgeting tool
because it enables them to
see where they are spending
their money.
Participants at each
organization are also
encouraged to track their
spending. As with many
people who have ever tallied their weekly or monthly expenditures, participants are usually
surprised by their own habits. ?You don?t realize it; you don?t realize how much you spend
daily and where it is all going,? said one incredulous participant.
After creating a monthly budget, participants are frequently left with a frustratingly small
amount of money, or worse, a deficit. Staff then turn to how participants can cut their
costs: each had a wealth of tips ranging from low-wattage lightbulbs to buying monthly
bus passes instead of weekly. Case managers at WHEDCo remarked, ?There are lots of
little things they don?t necessarily think about; we get them to think about how they can
do it differently.?
The ABCs of Mainstream Financial Institutions. Another common
component of these organizations? curricula is an introduction to financial institutions
and instruments. Expensive and sometimes usurious services, such as check-cashing
storefronts and payday lenders, flourish in low-income communities. Connecting
participants to mainstream financial institutions allows them to keep more of their
own money.
An instructor at WHEDCo was initially surprised to learn how much information
participants needed: ?Many people had no idea about differences between check-cashing
places and checking accounts. So I broke the costs down and showed them that there was
a $162-a-year difference, which is a fortune for people on public assistance.? A WHEDCo
participant echoed the need: ?I didn?t know that with a bank, you have to look for the one
that will give you more interest, or that you have to pay to have a checking account. That?s
why you have to shop around and study the banks.?
Pay Yourself First. Commonly referred to as ?Pay Yourself First,? curricula at each
organization also urge participants to establish savings goals and accounts. At The Cara
Program, consistency, not quantity, is emphasized. Graduates may participate in the
Matched Savings Program, which requires that they make consistent monthly deposits that
It?s interesting how they showed us how to budget. . . .
My balance at the end of the month turns out to be $300,
and I?ve got to pay for all the things that I am going to
need, like entertainment. I?ve done my research and
found places to go that don?t cost a lot of money. I have
to be very careful how I spend my money.
? WHEDCo participant
are matched on a two-to-one basis at the end of 10 months by The Cara Program.
Participants cannot ?make up? missing deposits in a subsequent month. The program has
helped more than 300 Cara graduates purchase homes, pay tuition, buy cars and open
their own businesses. Likewise, Women, Work and Community runs a Family
Development Account program in which participants who take Financing Your Future and
make deposits over two years can receive a maximum payout of $6,000 to spend on a new
home, school or a new business.
Staff at each organization described the occasional participant who is resistant to saving.
One instructor described a participant?s protest: ?I can?t save, I don?t have any money to
save.? In response, classes and curricula stress the habit of saving rather than the amount.
As a Cara Program instructor says, ?It?s not how much you earn; it?s what you do with it.?
Another Look at Credit Cards:
Debt Management and Reduction.
While some participants are all too familiar
with credit instruments, many need help
understanding how they work. The Cara
Program?s ?Credit and Debt Management? class
aims to have participants become more savvy
consumers of credit. Participants first explore
concepts around credit and how creditors and
future employers can use their credit reports.
The class then moves on to how to maintain
good credit, repair bad credit and avoid
predatory credit repair companies. Participants
whose debt is unmanageable are referred to the
Greater Chicago Consumer Credit Counseling
Service for professional help.
Diana Perez at WHEDCo?s Family Child Care
Program said that they began to cover debt
when they realized that many of the child-care
providers in her program were carrying
?enormous? debt loads. ?Some were even using
their credit cards to pay for basic needs!? The new class, titled ?Prime Workshop,? has a
two-pronged approach to debt: how to use it and how to reduce it. Participants are not
only introduced to how credit works and encouraged to create payment schedules but also
urged to call their creditors and request that their interest rates be lowered. ?The night of
the Prime Workshop class, I called,? said one participant, ?I had one credit card that I saw
myself never paying off because the interest was something like 22 percent, but I called and
they brought it down to 16 percent.?
Economic Security TIP:
Make the Impact
Immediately Relevant.
?Half the Innovations at Work
participants are homeless and the other
half are on public assistance. Sometimes,
they don?t even have enough money to
get here,? explained Barbara Zerzan.
Because many participants? current
financial situations were so precarious,
asking them to participate in a financial
literacy class or examine their budget
was, at first, a tough sell. To ensure
participant buy-in, staff knew they had
to make it relevant. For example,
instructors reapproached the
debt-reduction section of the curriculum
by warning participants that employers
are increasingly using credit reports as a
screening tool and that Section 8 housing
vouchers can be rejected because of
excessive debt. Staff also explain how
credit unions can be used to cash their
welfare checks.
Unrealized Gains 21
22 WorkingVentures
Central to the vision of Jewish Vocational Service?s Center for Careers and
Lifelong Learning (CALL) is increasing participants? net income to achieve
economic security. In the long term, staff help alumni and graduates find
higher-paying jobs and further their training and education; but in the short term,
they seek to supplement earnings with work supports. To help give participants
a context for budgeting their earned income in concert with the benefits of work
supports, the CALL implemented an ?Economic Literacy and Financial Life
Skills? curriculum.
What makes the CALL?s curriculum notable is its action-oriented focus and
incorporation of adult learning techniques. The three-hour core curriculum is
required for all CALL students, from displaced workers seeking job placement
help to welfare recipients attending accounting classes. The core curriculum is
integrated into the program and covers managing monthly expenses,
understanding workplace benefits, and new-hire paperwork and tax credits.
Therefore, in addition to being comprehensive, the curriculum stresses immediate
application of its lessons: the ?How Will You Cash Your Paycheck?? component
discusses banking, direct deposit and check-cashing services. Afterwards,
students with particular needs ? debt reduction, credit repair and long-term
savings with Individual Development Accounts ? are eligible to attend
workshops taught by volunteers.
Adults often learn best by doing, so the curriculum employs a wide range of
opportunities for participants to practice what they have just learned. In the
goal-setting workshop, participants complete questionnaires and are asked to
consider how other household members may respond, in hope of inspiring
ongoing dinner table conversations. In addition to using the CALL?s own online
resource and referral guide, students are encouraged to use the Internet for tools
and calculators, and are referred to message boards and chat rooms to discuss
financial issues. Many of the handouts and activities are action-oriented:
students look up local interest rates in the Boston Globe and play-act negotiating
with creditors. In developing its ?Economic Literacy and Financial Life Skills?
curriculum, the CALL has created a useful tool for wide application.
Another Approach to Economic Security:
JVS?s Center for Careers and Lifelong
Learning, Boston, Massachusetts
Unrealized Gains 23
Getting Started with Money Management. There are a variety of widely
available tools to help workforce development organizations offer financial literacy classes
to their participants, thereby providing them with a foundation for the income packaging
and employment retention work ahead:
What Are Your Participants? Needs? A first step in incorporating a
financial literacy curriculum is to look at whom the program serves. For example,
debt counseling and reduction may figure prominently for programs that primarily serve
ex-offenders who are parents (since child-support obligations are not usually suspended
during incarceration). Getting a handle on your participants? specific needs will facilitate
your discovery of an appropriate curriculum.
Featured Curricula. The curricula mentioned above ? Women, Work
and Community?s ?Creating Your Future,? The Cara Program?s ?Financial
Self-Sufficiency Training,? WHEDCo?s ?Self-Sufficiency Calculator Workshop? and JVS?s
?Economic Literacy and Financial Life Skills? ? can be obtained by contacting the
organization (contact information is listed in the Resources section).
Financial Literacy Curricula. Many financial literacy curricula have been
created recently. The following is a list of easily accessible resources.
Model Family
Model budgets can be a useful
tool while teaching financial
literacy and providing
one-on-one case management.| Wi$e Up was created by the U.S. Department of Labor for ?Generation X? young
women, but its eight-module curriculum could apply to anyone, as it features a broad
range of topics, including employment issues. The curriculum and worksheets are free,
but users must register: http://www.utdallas.edu/student/womensctr/wiseup| The National Endowment for Financial Education is a nonprofit foundation that
creates financial literacy materials, functions as a clearinghouse for financial literacy
curricula and develops specific materials with nonprofit service organizations:
http://www.nefe.org| The Money Smart curriculum was created by the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation and has been used by many workforce development practitioners. It is
also available in Spanish: http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart| The Beehive is an Internet-based tool that covers five topics related to finances that
can be approached as an entire curriculum, from a ?Life Events? angle (like getting a job)
or from a local webpage specifically created for 18 individual cities. For example,
Beehive?s Cleveland website has a checking account basics section that also lists banks in
the area offering free or low-cost checking account services:
http://www.beehive.org/money| The Economic Policy Institute has created basic standards
of living for 400 communities across the nation:
http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/datazone_fambud_budget| Wider Opportunity for Women and local partner
organizations have developed Self-Sufficiency standards for
many states and regions: http://www.sixstrategies.org
24 WorkingVentures
Income packaging is a process in which one identifies the gap between income and
economic security, then fills it in with work supports. Barbara Zerzan at WHEDCo
illustrated the concept: ?Welfare recipients have lots of experience with ?income
packaging.? To make ends meets, they babysit, sell T-shirts at street fairs or shovel snow.
The concept of ?income packaging? is the same, except that work replaces the welfare
grant.?20 The goal of income packaging is to maximize income and identify steps toward
economic security. In addition to promoting participants? financial goals, instituting a
financial literacy curriculum and marketing work supports early in the program, each of
the organizations interviewed also works with participants to assess their financial needs
and eligibility for specific work supports. Often building upon the budgeting portion
of the financial literacy curricula, income packaging is likely to occur in individual
case-management sessions, rather than in a classroom environment, once participants
have a firm grasp of their potential earned income.
Addressing the Wage Gap. The first step each organization takes in creating
an income package is to assess participants? expenses and financial needs. Some
organizations begin by asking their participants about whether they have children living
with them; others start by getting a general sense of the overall household income.
Whatever the approach, in their first discussion, staff?s goal is to identify the portion of
participants who are in crisis. At The Cara Program, Client Support Specialists first try
to figure out how the participant is sustaining herself in order to ?pinpoint any immediate
needs: Are they at risk of losing their housing? Do they have food in the house??
At Women, Work and Community, staff refer to this triage as ?Maslow?s Hierarchy.?
Named for psychologist Abraham Maslow, the theory contends that people require their
basic needs met first, like shelter, safety and food, before spiritual or intellectual needs.
Emergencies aside, each organization then assists participants in assessing their ongoing
financial needs. Because of the financial literacy training, participants are able to compile
a fairly accurate list of all their expenses, although staff frequently prompt them not to
Making Ends Meet
with ?Income Packaging?| Addressing the Wage Gap| Putting the Pieces Together: Creating an ?Income Package?| This Work Support Has Been Brought to You By . . .| A Note About Child Care| Getting Started with ?Income Packaging?
Unrealized Gains 25
forget anything, usually periodic expenses like car insurance and holiday gifts. WHEDCo
participants list their needs in the Internet-based Self-Sufficiency Calculator and then print
a copy for themselves. At the other organizations, needs are penciled in on a universal
form. Staff at each organization are also careful to examine what debts will kick in once
the participant joins the labor force, like child support, student loans and tax debts, so
that payment plans and appropriate referrals can be made.
Creating an accurate needs assessment for each participant guides the next steps and
provides everyone with an absolute measure for success. Not only can it inform the
income packaging process (?Should I look into getting my tax credit in advance??) and
job search (?Should I hold out
for a higher-paying job??), but
this first step in creating a
budget gives staff and
participants a concrete sense
of what it will take for the
participant and her family
to achieve economic security.
Putting the Pieces
Together: Creating an ?Income Package.?
Once the new spending plan is compared to potential earned income, whether there is a
wage gap becomes readily evident. Often there is. Staff work to close it by identifying
and securing work supports. ?Basically, we act as a filter,? said Linda Buckmaster. Once
Women, Work and Community participants have completed the Creating Your Future
class, they meet one-on-one with the instructors, who also provide case-management
services. It is in these meetings that staff do an assessment of what work supports a
person may be eligible for.
Likewise, at WHEDCo, ?once the Calculator is done, the question becomes: ?Is there a
shortfall??,? said Zerzan. With a click of the mouse, the Calculator can recompute a
budget, this time factoring in the work supports the participant is eligible for. With
another click of the mouse, the Calculator provides information on how the support
functions, how to apply and contact information. ?I printed out what I qualified for and
it was Medicaid,? described one graduate. ?Not too long ago I had to put out $150 for a
doctor?s visit because I didn?t know I qualified. So I went and got Medicaid.? Participants
and staff discuss the results, and staff make suggestions and referrals ? from getting
advance EITC to reopening a public assistance case in order to qualify for transitional
benefits. That way, participants will be financially ready when they start work.
Work Is Always Better than Welfare
MYTH. There is no doubt that employment provides
structure, purpose and independence. However,
transitioning from welfare to work can leave some
financially worse off. Practitioners often refer to this
problem as the ?slippery slope?: the downward fiscal spiral
that happens when a low-paying job without benefits has
far less monetary value than a package of welfare benefits.
Introducing participants to work supports early on, and
later helping them access the supports, can address this
slippery slope because work supports ?beef up? low
wages, ideally to a place where work is indeed better
than welfare.
26 WorkingVentures
Cara staff typically look to transitional benefits and EITC as gap-fillers. While staff prefer
graduates to get their EITC once a year during the tax season because of its asset-building
potential, where warranted, they will advise the new graduate to obtain advance EITC
payments in their paychecks by completing a W-5 and giving it to their employer.
Depending on needs and eligibility, participants may get referred to a variety of work
supports, like subsidized housing programs to bring down rental costs, or KidCare to pay
a portion of a new employee?s health insurance premium.
Work supports are not the only gap filler; for some participants, income packaging may
include second jobs or employer concessions. Moonlighting is a common strategy. ?The
?convenience store job? can be a part of a larger personal self-sufficiency plan,? said a staff
person at Women, Work and Community, because ?self sufficiency often requires self
reliance.? Staff have become creative in devising gap-filling strategies. Trainers have
organized a ?give-away? table so that participants can exchange children?s clothes and
small appliances. Participants are also encouraged to check out the Maine Time Dollar
Network, which allows people to exchange volunteer hours for goods and services; a
participant could read to a blind person in exchange for child-care services, for example.
Similarly, WHEDCo staff explore whether a graduate can increase her hours, or if an
employer can increase the hourly wage, in order to complete the income package.
This Work Support Has Been Brought to You By . . . The organizations
featured have internalized the need for work supports to such a degree that each offers
some type of support themselves in order to complete a participant?s income package.
Through their contract to serve welfare-to-work recipients, WHEDCo offers graduates
monthly Metrocards, unlimited passes to the city?s transportation system, representing a
savings of over $70 for each graduate. Every time graduates follow up with staff as a part
of their retention plan (60, 90 and 180 days), they receive another Metrocard. In addition
to a car and computer donation program for graduates, Women, Work and Community has
a small, privately funded reserve to help participants with ?the rough spots,? like gas, child
care or a month?s rent.
Tom Owens, the retired information technology entrepreneur who founded The Cara
Program, also started the Owens Foundation. This sister organization not only provides
eligible participants with rent or transportation assistance, it also funds Cara?s Matched
Savings Program, a savings account that allows participants? deposits to be matched
two-to-one. People interested in the Matched Savings Program also receive $50 to open
their account. Participants are frequently given weekly passes for the Chicago
Transportation Authority when they are job searching or while they are waiting for their
first check. As many of the participants are transitioning from homeless shelters, the
Foundation also provides either a security deposit or first month?s rent.
Unrealized Gains 27
A Note About Child Care. In ensuring that participants make a plan to pay
for child care and that graduates have that plan firmly in place, organizations frequently
devote extra attention to assuring the stability of child care, a vital work support. Client
Support Specialists at The Cara Program said that they ?like to go into detail about the
child-care arrangements.? In addition to asking if participants are behind in their
child-care payments, which would be an expected question given the financial details
discussed, staff also ask about the reliability of care and backup plans. ?Most employers
are not going to be sensitive if they are regularly late or if a child is sick,? said Stephanie
Wernet. Therefore, staff often discuss whether participants have good pick-up and
drop-off times, and if they have a backup plan. Staff also explore participants? level of
comfort with day care and after-school arrangements: if a parent is concerned about the
quality of the care, she
will not be able to
concentrate on her job.
Likewise, WHEDCo
graduates? child-care
arrangements are vetted
for reliability and safety,
because staff believe that
it affects job retention.
Moreover, reliable child
care also means that
participants can increase
their work hours.
?Dependable child care
gives them the
opportunity to take the
night hours,? noted
Barbara Zerzan.
Economic Security TIP:
Create a Comfortable Environment.
Even though workforce development organizations know a
lot about building trust with their participants, money and
finances are quintessentially ?taboo? topics. Organizations
can encourage participants? buy-in by creating a
comfortable environment for addressing participants?
economic security. ?It is really painful to look at money
issues when you don?t have any,? says Linda Buckmaster.
All of Women,Work and Community?s instructors
are sensitive to how difficult accounting for your expenses
and creating a budget can be, and they use a variety of
techniques to acknowledge this difficulty. One instructor
regularly tells her Creating Your Future class that she
did not ?have it all together either.? Another creates a
common bond at the beginning of class by stressing:
?Everyone is here to reinvent herself.? Buckmaster
responds by ?saying over and over that people are in
different places in their lives; we?re not here to make
judgments.? When all else fails, the organizations described
here have found it helpful to simply challenge participants.
?What is greater,? ask staff,?your resistance to change or
your desire for growth??
28 WorkingVentures
Getting Started with ?Income Packaging.? Organizations wanting to help their
participants create income packages have several strategies and tools available to them:
What Are Your Participants Eligible For? Again, organizations should look
to whom the program serves as a first step. While some work supports can be accessed
by all low-income working people, like EITC, other supports will depend on the participants.
Programs with large TANF populations definitely need to know about transitional welfare benefits,
while programs that serve victims of domestic violence or people with HIV will want to know
whether those circumstances toll existing welfare time limits or open the door to additional
housing benefits, for example.
Sample Household Budgets. Many of the curricula listed in the previous section
also contain sample budgets, the place to start when creating an income package for a
participant. Organizations often use sample budgets that recreate a ?typical client,? complete with
common household configurations and average starting salaries.
Self-Sufficiency Calculators. Wider Opportunity for Women and local partner
organizations have created calculators based on the standard for many states and regions.
The calculators often compute applicable work supports and provide directions for applying. Check
http://www.sixstrategies.org to see if these tools are available in your area.
Understanding Work Supports. Creating useful income packages requires that
staff know what work supports are available. Gathering and growing that intelligence may
seem herculean, but there are many resources, especially on the Internet. Good starting points are
websites created by the government and national advocacy organizations. Websites for all the
work supports mentioned in this report are listed in the Resources section.
Conducting a Community Audit. Gathering the tools and information needed
to help participants can also include conducting an audit of resources available in your
community. Collecting the addresses and hours of operation for public assistance, Food Stamp,
Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance Benefits and emergency services offices is a first step, as is
gathering information on local resources for special populations, such as immigrants, homeless,
people with disabilities and young adults. Over time, staff in the organizations featured here
developed a treasure trove of resources, like where Food Stamp recipients can get free eyeglasses,
where the best food pantries are located, and networks of dentists that offer free services
to participants.
Unrealized Gains 29
Sometimes making participants aware of work supports and directing them to the
resources is not enough. Because a wide range of barriers can prevent participants
from accessing and obtaining work supports, it is sometimes necessary to advocate on
their behalf.
For example, Chicago?s subsidized housing programs, frequently a crucial work support
in Cara Program participants? income packages, usually have very long wait lists. Yet staff
are undaunted. ?We?ve built relationships with housing providers across the city and
learned that we are still able to get people in, usually because people don?t keep in touch
with the programs,? explained Wernet. By learning local procedures, persevering through
rules and regulations, and building contacts and relationships, organizations can help put
participants? income packages into action.
?Sticky Wickets.? Helping participants get through red tape ? called ?sticky
wickets? by Women, Work and Community staff ? is often the most difficult part of the
job. As mentioned previously, people do not access work supports in part because
programs are not geared to working families; consequently, many find it too difficult to
follow through. Staff at Women, Work and Community often help participants gather
required documentation for work support applications and periodic certifications. They
also help ease participants? schedules by knowing the hours and locations of all the offices
they refer people to. Staff?s ability to navigate an agency?s bureaucracy, communicate with
them during office hours and help participants with lengthy applications can often mean
the difference between obtaining a work support or going without.
Advocacy through the ?sticky wickets? also helps build relationships with participants.
Zerzan observed that WHEDCo?s participants appreciate ?having someone in their corner
? a support mechanism with a ton of helpful resources.? The strength of the relationship
allows the Employment Case Managers to convey the welfare process to overwhelmed
participants: ?One client simply stopped picking up her benefits. We had to remind her
that she had to let HRA know that she was employed, because she could get a ?Failure to
Comply? sanction, which would have prevented her from getting transitional benefits.?
3 Putting Income Packages into Action| ?Sticky Wickets?| A Measure of Quality Control| Multidimensional Advocacy| Getting Started with Putting Income Packages into Action
30 WorkingVentures
Participants? problems are not always related to work supports or public agencies, though
their resolution would further a participant?s economic security. Staff have also been
known to advocate payment plans with phone, gas and electric companies.
A Measure of Quality Control. In addition to helping participants navigate
bureaucracy, staff from these organizations also frequently serve as quality controls
within the system. They find that work supports are sometimes administered incorrectly.
An organization?s mere presence as an advocate can accomplish much. ?Sometimes
participants get a different reaction if they go in and ask the case manager for something
than if ?we all? go in,? said Sally Davis, describing not only individual Women, Work and
Community staff, but the reputation the organization has established as advocates for its
participants. In their efforts to put income packages into action, staff from each of these
organizations have mastered a wide range of advocacy efforts. While most of the time a
mistake can be corrected with a simple well-placed phone call, some organizations had to
make more protracted efforts to get work supports, for example, by representing
participants in fair hearings for Food Stamps or unemployment benefits.
Given the nature of WHEDCo?s population ? current welfare recipients who are required
to attend the program in exchange for public assistance ? staff play a major advocacy
role. WHEDCo?s Employment Case Managers will investigate problems, call supervisors,
and expedite applications and payments: ?Basically we advocate for clients by being
pushy.? Staff concentrate first on arming participants with the knowledge and
self-confidence to solve problems on their own. Printouts from the Self-Sufficiency
Calculator embolden participants to go back to a welfare center that told them they were
not eligible. The printouts ?give them the information and the tools to advocate for
themselves a little better,? said a staff person. But where the issue is particularly
complex or the participant especially timid, staff step in.
The nature of some issues may require more expertise or time than a staff person has.
Each of these organizations knows there is a point at which a participant?s problem is
beyond their scope of work and they refer participants to private attorneys and legal
service agencies. For example, Women, Work and Community works closely with the
Maine Equal Justice Partners, a legal services organization whose mission is to ensure
low-income people?s access to health care, food assistance and housing. Davis
characterized the relationship as working in tandem on behalf of participants: ?We
create the plan for self sufficiency and Equal Justice may have to do a fair hearing
to ensure child-care payments.?
Multidimensional Advocacy. ?Advocacy must be multidimensional,? said Barbara
Zerzan; approaching clients? issues on a case-by-case basis eventually led WHEDCo to
approach advocacy more systemically. As they contend with a variety of work support
systems, staff occasionally notice trends. ?There is a value to having an on-the-ground
perspective,? said Zerzan. For example, she once noted that participants were regularly
not receiving transitional benefits when their welfare cases closed. After conferring with
other welfare advocates, they monitored the situation and gathered informal data; then
Unrealized Gains 31
they made a call to New York City?s Human Resources Administration. Because they
documented the issue with facts and suggested resolutions, they were able to help the city
create a solution. It took time, but New York City now mails an information package and
application for transitional benefits to every newly closed welfare case.
In fulfilling its mission, Women, Work and Community ?has always wanted to influence
the way workforce and economic development works in Maine,? said Gilda Nardone.
?The feminist model of our organization means we are very participatory.? As such,
Women, Work and Community spearheaded the creation of the Women?s Economic
Agenda, a framework of policy recommendations to improve Maine residents? economic
security. A series of community forums hosted by Women, Work and Community
reinforced their belief that low-income people need more opportunities for skills training
to connect them to high-wage jobs. Women, Work and Community and their collaborators
developed a workforce development platform that stresses the need for training, more
funding and access to nontraditional jobs. Participants in the Creating Your Future
classes took part in community forums and went to the state legislature to present the
agenda. ?The agenda helps people understand that there must be public funding to
support workforce development, or women would be affected disproportionately,? said
a collaborator.
Getting Started with Putting Income Packages into Action. Putting a
participant?s income package into action can involve advocacy on several different levels,
from developing an on-the-ground understanding of how the work supports really work,
to creating partnerships with advocacy organizations. Some strategies to consider are:
Understanding How Work Supports Really Work. Helping
participants implement an income package starts with knowing what they are
eligible for, but it is often made real when you learn how to access specific work supports.
Organizations can effectively navigate bureaucracy as they learn the nuances of how work
supports are administered. Plugging your organization into a community of local
advocates, via meetings, newsletters or list serves will help jump-start the learning curve.
Local Legal Services Offices. There are several possible benefits to
reaching out to your local legal services or legal aid offices. Not only can these
advocates and attorneys help with your clients? legal needs but many specialize in work
supports, such as public benefits, health and housing. As such they can be an important
resource for quality control. Staff can tap into that expertise by partnering with their local
legal services office on a range of activities, such as providing informal technical assistance,
making presentations to participants or developing accessible fact sheets for them.
The Legal Service Corporation?s website contains links to LSC-funded organizations
nationwide (http://www.lsc.org).
32 WorkingVentures
Another Approach to Economic Security:
The Transition to Work Project,
Brooklyn, New York
Another model of a partnership between workforce development and legal services
is the Transition to Work Project, a joint venture of The HOPE Program and
South Brooklyn Legal Services (SBLS). Located in downtown Brooklyn, The
HOPE Program runs a 16-week job readiness training program for New Yorkers
living in extreme poverty, many of whom are welfare recipients mandated to
attend New York City?s Work Experience Program. Just a few blocks away, SBLS
provides free legal advice and representation to low-income New Yorkers in areas
such as housing, government benefits and family law.
The Transition to Work Project allows these two groups to come together to
address the intersection of welfare and work. Joyce Heller, SBLS?s Director of
Government Benefits, views the project as a critical partnership for their mutual
clients: ?A job today will prevent tomorrow?s eviction.? The project primarily
takes the form of educational workshops delivered by SBLS attorneys at The
HOPE Program, designed to answer current participants? and graduates? central
question: ?What is going to happen once I leave welfare?? Workshops cover
publicly funded work supports, like transitional Medicaid and child-care
assistance, as well as debt collection, because many participants have
outstanding student loans, child-support payments or back taxes. After the
workshops, attorneys meet with participants and graduates one-on-one, and they
often take on HOPE Program participants? consumer debt, housing, tax, public
benefits and employment cases.
Another critical aspect of the Transition to Work Project is the technical
assistance and staff training SBLS provides to The HOPE Program staff. ?They
typically need access to welfare information, pointers on how to advocate; staff
love the budgeting worksheets and the welfare center contact information sheets
we give them,? explained Heller.
From The HOPE Program?s perspective, the partnership provides participants with
much-needed guidance. ?Oftentimes clients will be given conflicting information
or have conflicting appointments,? said Robert Cahill, HOPE?s Outreach
Coordinator. ?As a result of the workshops, they are more savvy about what they
are legally required to do.? Moreover, simply having access to an advocacy and
legal resource (generally the public has to call a hotline) provides HOPE Program
participants and alumni with an ?increased level of service,? said Cahill.
Unrealized Gains 33
Workers who have child care firmly in place, can anticipate the end of transitional benefits
or have even accumulated a small amount of savings are far more likely to focus on a new
job and manage the variety of life?s crises that can threaten the transition. WHEDCo, The
Cara Program and Women, Work and Community have continued to work on ensuring
graduates? economic security by, for example, obtaining tax credits during the tax season,
creating new budgets if the household changes and understanding an employer?s package
of financial benefits. No matter the
specific service, continuing the work
beyond the program promotes
graduates? financial well-being,
enabling them to retain employment.
Keeping Graduates on Track. Each Cara Program graduate starts her new job
armed with an Individual Financial Plan. Essentially the Plan is a budget that has shifted
from a learning tool to a real-time plan with actual earnings. Completed with the help of
a Client Support Specialist, the Plan goes into great detail, ensuring that graduates list
their take-home pay and not just gross income, that all work supports are in place and
every expense is accounted for.
The graduates are not alone in attending to detail. Client Support Specialists use a Client
Support Action Plan as a guide for retention services. The Plan maps out 10 visits and
contacts over the course of a year, the projected date for each visit or phone call, the 6
to 10 tasks to be completed for each visit and the projected date of completion. The Plan
focuses on retention (?second visit: ask the client if they have been late or missed any days
of work?), advancement (?seventh visit: ask the client if they have taken their GED test
yet?) and the graduate?s finances. The financial tasks range from simply reinforcing
money-management skills learned during the program to introducing new concepts and
strategies. Graduates are also invited to attend ongoing financial workshops. The
intensity of the finance-related retention needs led one staff person to remark, ?Most
of our work begins after they are employed.?
4 Ensuring Economic Security
After Employment| Keeping Graduates on Track| ?What?s an HMO,W-4 and FICA??| ?and FDIC, EITC and IDA??| Getting Started with Ensuring Economic Security
After Employment
They don?t want you to start a job and you have
all these loose ends: ?I don?t have a babysitter,? ?I
don?t have this,? ?I don?t have that,? you know. So
basically they prepare you, you know, to take care
of all the little situations.
? A Cara Program graduate
34 WorkingVentures
In addition to the ongoing contact with the Client Support Specialists outlined in the
Action Plan, Cara Program graduates are offered services designed to increase their
financial security. As mentioned previously, the Matched Savings Program is structured
similarly to an Individual Development Account in that participants? deposits are matched.
For families depositing a monthly minimum of $20, The Cara Foundation will make
matching contributions over 10 months, for a total of $1,000.
For each organization, focusing on economic security is key to maintaining relationships
with graduates. Because it is not at all uncommon for their budgets to change ? ?it may
be something in their work hours, salary or child-care arrangements,? said a staff person
? graduates are encouraged to return for follow-up financial services. Creating up-todate
budgets allows graduates to stay on track.
?What?s an HMO,W-4 and FICA . . . ? Graduates of the organizations
featured here often have limited experience in the labor market and with the financial
benefits and packages that come with employment. While not every entry-level,
low-paying job confers health care, pensions or a flex-spending plan, many do, and
graduates typically need help understanding the myriad choices.
Graduates of The Cara Program meet with their Client Support Specialist within two
weeks of starting a new job. One of the staff?s tasks listed in the Client Support Action
Plan is determining the employer?s benefit application due date. ?Take this date into
consideration when planning the next meeting,? advises the Action Plan, so that staff can
then answer any questions and help graduates complete all the paperwork. In addition to
facilitating health care plan choices, getting familiar with tuition reimbursement and
understanding reimbursement plans for transportation or dependent care, Cara staff also
help graduates with tax documents. ?Clients often don?t know how to claim their
dependents on the W-4,? said Stephanie Wernet, ?and we don?t want them owing a lot
of money at the end of the year.?
Attention to employers? benefits also means that potential problems can be averted or
taken care of quickly. Employment Case Managers at WHEDCo regularly ask graduates
about their eligibility for benefits at the 90-day mark, because graduates have often
reached the end of their probationary period by then. Staff also help resolve issues:
?One graduate kept getting a uniform deduction on her paycheck for a single shirt she
received on her first day, so we called the employer on her behalf and she got her money
back.? In another instance, an Employment Case Manager helped a graduate who worked
nights as a security guard figure out that he was eligible for a ?night differential,? which
he then received quickly.
Unrealized Gains 35
. . . and FDIC, EITC and IDA?? For Women, Work and Community, WHEDCo
and The Cara Program, incorporating financial strategies into retention efforts serves as a
gateway to financial services and asset-building opportunities. As a part of their mission
to promote participants? economic security, each organization has formed a variety of
partnerships in furtherance of that goal. For example, Women, Work and Community
partners with the Maine Consumer Counseling Agency to help needy participants manage
their debts and with the Maine Educational Opportunity Center to facilitate access to
postsecondary educational institutions.
Likewise, WHEDCo and BethEx Credit Union, which has four branches and service
agreements with check-cashing storefronts located all over New York City, have joined
forces to offer WHEDCo participants low-cost banking services. ?Our relationship with
BethEx Credit Union is usually employed as a retention strategy,? said a WHEDCo
instructor. Many WHEDCo participants who once frequented expensive check-cashing
storefronts are now BethEx customers, allowing them to reinvest in their neighbors and
community. During the tax season, WHEDCo partners with other nonprofit service
organizations in orchestrating an outreach campaign for EITC. In January, WHEDCo
mails an information flyer ? stuffed with fake money ? to all their graduates, letting
them know they may be eligible for tax credits. They also offer free tax preparation at
night, thus allowing people who may not otherwise have received the refunds to boost
their earnings.
Community outreach and access to free tax preparation is also a priority of The Cara
Program. To make that happen, they partnered with the Center on Law and Human
Services, a Chicago-based nonprofit that orchestrates a city-wide EITC campaign every
year. The Cara Program also has a close working relationship with Greater Chicago
Consumer Credit Counseling Service, which allows participants to access free
debt-management services. They work with Ariel Mutual Funds and Neighborhood
Housing Services (NHS) as well. Ariel representatives teach a workshop on investing,
and graduates interested in home-ownership are referred to NHS. Wernet credits the
continuing success of these partnerships to the fact that they share similar missions:
Ariel?s goal is to ?have investing become dinner table conversation in low-income
neighborhoods,? and NHS has a reputation for helping rehabilitate neighborhoods
through home-ownership.
While participants? needs vary and different regions have different services available,
WHEDCo and The Cara Program would agree with Women, Work and Community?s
Sally Davis, who observed that ?We can?t do it all.? In order to meet the broad range
of participants? financial needs, help them achieve economic security and create
opportunities for asset-building, ?partnerships are critical.?
36 WorkingVentures
Getting Started with Ensuring Economic Security After Employment.
Several strategies are available to organizations that want to help ensure their graduates?
economic security after employment:
New Hire Packages. Obtaining detailed descriptions of the benefits
offered and the package of paperwork new hires receive can help graduates plan
for their household budgets. Sample packages can be requested from the employers with
whom you work most closely. Familiarize graduates with payroll taxes, auto-deposit,
paycheck deductions for uniforms and flex-spending plans to facilitate their financial
adjustment to work.
Partnerships for Financial Advancement. Partnerships with credit
unions, credit counseling agencies and Individual Development Accounts
programs can keep graduates on financial track and help them build assets. Local
nonprofit credit counseling agencies can be found by consulting the yellow pages.
The National Credit Union Association has a database of all registered credit unions in
the country searchable by city and state (http://www.ncua.gov/indexdata.html). The IDA
Network?s State Pages section of its website is a database of the IDA programs in each
state that has them (http://www.idanetwork.org).
Unrealized Gains 37
Veronica Cryers
Family Child-Care Provider
The Bronx, New York
Veronica Cryers spent much of her life caring for others ? foster care children, siblings
and the elderly ? but low wages and short-term jobs made public assistance a necessity
during the rough times. During her last spell receiving public assistance she discovered
WHEDCo?s Family Day Care Training Program by chance.
Because the Family Day Care Training Program teaches people to become independent
business owners, financial literacy training and income packaging assistance figure
prominently. These classes were a predecessor to Innovations at Work?s Self-Sufficiency
Calculator Workshop.
After attending WHEDCo?s goal-setting workshop, Veronica planned on a series of initial
investments: new supplies for her child-care business and new furnishings for her home.
She then set her sights on creating savings ?for emergencies.?
I used to work as a home health aide, but I got laid off so I went back to PA for a short
time. There were all these new rules! I wanted to become a child-care provider, but I
didn?t have a job. I went to a child-care provider orientation by mistake. I didn?t have
a referral from welfare, so I wasn?t supposed to be there. I made a bunch of phone calls
and got to WHEDCo. They helped clear it with welfare.
I?ve been a provider since 2000. . . . From all the jobs I?ve had, this is the best I?ve
done. I?ve been working since I?ve been 13 years old, and now I am 44 years old.
The classes help me figure out if I?m maintaining my finances in the right way and if
I?m maintaining my taxes; it keeps me updated, you know. I?ve been to classes in
how to do taxes, how to budget yourself and how to save for yourself. . . . Now I am
able to maintain a decent checking account, I?m able to pay off debt and be more
responsible for my own money.
WHEDCo has a class where you list income coming in and then list your main bills.
You subtract what you owe and then apply extra money to other things. It was the first
time I ever did that or had enough money to do the budget.
I am more secure now than I have ever been in my life, even while I was on welfare.
It?s not easy, but it?s not too hard if you focus on it. I feel more independent now, even
from when I wasn?t on PA and just a home health aide. I feel more successful and more
responsible. . . . It?s like getting out of jail and starting all over again.
Realized Gains
38 WorkingVentures
Unrealized Gains 39
In Closing:
Challenges for the Field
Economic security has been central to workforce development organizations? missions
since the advent of job training and placement. But explicitly ensuring that graduates
can support their families is a renewed type of client support that many in the field have
embraced. As this work grows and expands ? with more and more workforce
development organizations integrating financial literacy, facilitating income packaging
and advocating for work supports ? the field faces several related challenges.
For one, creating staff investment is critical to the success of economic security strategies.
In addition, organizations on the forefront are considering the role employers have in
ensuring living wages: how can practitioners work with employers to obtain greater
benefits or increased wages? Finally, while the organizations featured here are firm in their
conviction that economic security strategies have a profound impact on graduates, they do
not systematically collect outcomes data specific to participants? financial solvency. Thus,
a third challenge for the workforce development field is demonstrating to policymakers
and funders the effectiveness of focusing on participants? economic security.
Avoiding ?This Is Just Another Thing to Do?: Creating Staff
Investment. Workforce development organizations that want to focus on economic
security strategies may be challenged by resistance among staff ? who may feel like these
strategies are ?just another thing to do? ? a reasonable response given the high demands
of the work. Managers at the Women, Work and Community, WHEDCo and The Cara
Program admitted that ?staff get a lot of stuff thrown at them,? so each of these
organizations focused on demonstrating to staff that financial literacy, budgeting and
income packaging will allow them to do their job better.
?Now I know why my clients are kicking and screaming,? said one case manager who was
trained to use the Self-Sufficiency Calculator by the Women?s Center for Education and
Career Advancement. As workforce development practitioners are well aware, many
entry-level jobs pay little, lack benefits or have few opportunities for advancement.
Participants may resist placing themselves in a financially precarious position.| Avoiding ?This Is Just Another Thing to Do?:
Creating Staff Investment| Partnering with Employers| Tracking Economic Security Outcomes
40 WorkingVentures
WHEDCo case managers say that resistance ranges from hesitant questions, ?Will I be able
to afford my rent making $6 per hour?? to outright refusal, ?I?m not taking a job that only
pays $6 an hour.? By working out a budget, income packaging and putting the plan into
action ? that is, creating economic security ? staff can do their jobs better because
participants? concerns are explicitly confronted and addressed.
Each organization has also found that having case managers, job developers and
instructors intimately involved with program and curriculum development allowed them
to invest deeply in the work. The Cara Program?s entire approach to economic security
came out of staff?s realization that finances needed to be the fifth area of participants?
transformative process ? the new program thus reflects the staff?s in-depth knowledge of
their clients. Women, Work and Community created a taskforce comprised of staff from
all over the state to restructure the workshop and curriculum. As a result, ?it became
theirs,? said Nardone.
Another way to create staff investment is to support them as they implement the work.
Women, Work and Community, WHEDCo and The Cara Program are all quick to
acknowledge that it is hard to master and keep abreast of all the various pieces of
information in the curriculum, the laws and procedures governing work supports, and
advocacy contacts and strategies. When asked what was hard about addressing
participants? economic security, Zerzan said that ?it?s real, and the truth, and tedious.?
Staff were excited, and participants were relieved, to do the work, but when a participant
is faced with a $90 shortfall for the month, and Food Stamps may take another couple of
weeks to start, ?it gets you down to the brass tacks of the moment.? The work requires
that staff have the knowledge base, tools and ongoing support needed to help
Managers of each
organization featured
here explored every
work support their
participants were
eligible for, got to
know the applicable
rules and procedures,
and then figured out
how it all really
worked in practice.
Economic Security Only Applies to Our
Participants MYTH. Each of the organizations described
here was surprised to find that they first had to work through
economic security issues themselves, as a staff and as an organization.
In preparing staff for the Creating Your Future workshop, an
unanticipated component of the training was helping staff with their
?own comfort level around money.? Play-acting and open dialogues
during a staff retreat facilitated the process and allowed some staff to
?open up to what was going on in their own lives.? Now instructors
find it helpful to tell their participants, ?I had to get real about this
too.? Likewise, Zerzan cautions: ?Consider how the Calculator
applies to your staff: do they make the Self-Sufficiency Standard??
Staff pursuing this work should remember that issues arising from
learning about one?s finances are just as likely to be applicable
to themselves.
Unrealized Gains 41
Partnering with Employers. Employers have much to gain from their workers?
economic security. Research has demonstrated that work supports reduce poverty and
improve employment outcomes. And improved employment outcomes reduce employers?
turnover costs. Moreover, organizations like the ones described here know anecdotally
that workers are better able to concentrate on a new job when they are not consumed with
worry about how they are going to pay for child care or whether their paycheck will cover
their new expenses. Last, economists have pointed out that work supports have a
tendency to hold down labor costs because employers need not raise wages or provide
benefits to attract workers if their wages are being supplemented elsewhere. It is natural
then that some organizations are asking employers to become true partners in ensuring
economic security by providing additional benefits, increasing wages and providing better
working conditions.
Cara staff stress program strengths ? like their focus on support services or their ability
to prepare participants for work and life ? to market their graduates to companies. Staff
will also emphasize these strengths to ?advocate for more money? in the event that a
participant?s wage gap cannot be filled by work supports alone. WHEDCo staff may
stress their graduates? good attendance, ensured by steady child-care payments and a solid
backup plan. These assurances have emboldened WHEDCo staff to ask some employers
for more hours, increased pay, flex-time or additional skills training. Workforce
development organizations might benefit from leveraging their program strengths to
encourage employers to become partners in ensuring economic security.
Tracking Economic Security Outcomes. As a field, we know that
workforce development services ? skills training, soft skills training and retention
services ? help people obtain employment, secure higher placement wages and stay
employed longer. What we do not know is how often these successes translate into
economic security. Thus, a remaining challenge for the field is for organizations that
are committed to this work to be able to demonstrate their effectiveness in achieving
participants? financial security.
Each of the organizations profiled here is familiar with the challenge of tracking outcomes
relevant to economic security. ?Even though we don?t track financial outcomes, we know
that we used to give out a lot more money to clients for their housing,? explained Wernet.
?Now that we focus on their budgets, we have a higher success rate for their housing
plans.? Staff at WHEDCo are similarly convinced ? intuition and anecdotal reports give
them confidence ? that their graduates are faring better financially because of their
in-program work and retention efforts. But ?keeping track of it is another story,?
admitted Zerzan.
42 WorkingVentures
At Women, Work and Community, the staff grapple with the ?squishy people, squishy
data? issue: success means different things for different people. Coherently measuring one
graduate?s job placement with another?s continuing education, or one participant?s ability
to open a checking account with another?s ability to budget, can be a formidable task.
Linda Buckmaster described the challenge of creating a single institutional approach:
?People come to us for diverse reasons and at different levels ? we serve welfare-to-work
parents, laid-off professionals and classic displaced homemakers ? so outcomes will mean
different things for different people.? Yet the need to account for their program by
documenting their graduates? successes is a clear one, so Women, Work and Community
staff have been working on creating a system that captures certain benchmarks over time.
For graduates of the Creating Your Future program, Women, Work and Community has
developed a series of ?personal financial benchmarks?: obtaining a credit report or a social
security benefits report, whether they have analyzed their debt status or started a savings
account. By demonstrating the value of the work it does, Women, Work and Community
hopes to create demand among other hopeful participants. Moreover, tracking outcomes
may help the organization obtain ongoing funding for its classes.
For the field, the ability to demonstrate the value of helping participants achieve
financial security reflects a larger policy issue. In the wake of welfare reform, workforce
development organizations have largely focused on helping participants transition from
welfare, obtain work and retain employment. As more and more practitioners also
concern themselves with participants? economic security, they raise the bar from workfirst
to poverty alleviation.
Unrealized Gains 43
44 WorkingVentures
Contact Information for Featured Organizations:
Stephanie Wernet
Director of Corporate Accounts
The Cara Program
703 West Monroe
Chicago, Illinois 60661
Barbara Zerzan
Vice President for Programs
Women?s Housing and Economic Development Corporation
50 East 168th Street
Bronx, New York 10452
Gilda Nardone
Executive Director
Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community
46 University Drive
Augusta, Maine 04330
Kelly Tessitore
Vice President, Job Placement and Support Services
Centers for Careers and Lifelong Learning
Jewish Vocational Service
29 Winter Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Josh Shepherd
Deputy Director
The HOPE Program
1 Smith Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Joyce Heller
Director, Government Benefits Unit
The Transitional Work Project
Brooklyn Legal Services, Corp. B
105 Court Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Unrealized Gains 45
Resources for Work Supports:
Operated by the U.S. Department of Labor, GovBenefits.gov is a good starting place to figure out
eligibility and estimated federal work benefits. It also contains links to state work support pages,
many of which have prescreening calculators.
Welfare Information Network
The Welfare Information Network is a comprehensive clearinghouse of resources and tools
on a wide range of work supports.
Child Care
Child Care Bureau
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This site contains information about the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). The ?Parents
Place? tab (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ccb/parents/index.htm) is a good starting point, because
it not only helps parents locate child care but also has links to states? information about how to pay
for child care, find Head Start programs and contact state child-support offices.
Child Care Aware
This site is run by the National Network of Child Care Resource and Referral centers. A zip code
finder on the homepage links users to their local Child Care Resource and Referral organization.
The site also contains helpful tips on evaluating providers, finding after-school and summer care,
and choosing child care for children with special needs.
Child Support
Office of Child Support Enforcement
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The homepage of this website has direct links to each state?s child-support enforcement offices.
The section devoted to employers is at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/newhire/employer/home.htm.
It contains information on new-hire reporting, withholding and remitting. Also, a helpful Q&A section is
located at http://faq.acf.hhs.gov/cgi-bin/acfrightnow.cfg/php/enduser/home.php.
46 WorkingVentures
Food Stamps
Food and Nutrition Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
This website has sections geared to applicants and recipients as well as advocates. A prescreening
tool is available at www.foodstamps-step1.usda.gov.
America?s Second Harvest
America?s Second Harvest is an advocacy organization focusing on Food Stamps and other federally funded
food and nutrition programs. The website contains a searchable database for emergency food banks.
Health Care
State Children?s Health Insurance Program
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This site provides an overview of eligibility for the State Children?s Health Insurance Program. Its
campaign to enroll eligible children (http://www.insurekidsnow.gov) provides links to state programs.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
In addition to providing an overview of Medicaid, this site not only links users to state Medicaid offices
but also supplies information about state eligibility rules, waivers and demonstration programs.
Families USA
Families USA is a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on ensuring affordable health care for all.
Its ?Consumer Info? section offers a wealth of resources and links, from understanding how managed
care works to finding out about insurance for particular groups of people.
Housing Assistance
Housing Vouchers and Public Housing
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The website explains all federal voucher programs at:
http://www.hud.gov/offices/pih/programs/hcv/index.cfm. The public housing program is explained at
http://www.hud.gov/renting/phprog.cfm and includes a local housing authority locator tool.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This web page offers detailed information on LIHEAP for consumers and professionals.
Unrealized Gains 47
Tax Credits
The Internal Revenue Service
Provides overviews of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Child and
Dependent Care Credit, and contains information on how to become a Volunteer Income Tax
Assistance site.
Make Tax Time Pay
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities publishes an excellent outreach kit called ?Make Tax Time
Pay? that is available in several languages. The free kit may be downloaded from the website or can be
ordered by emailing eitckit@cbpp.org. An easy calculator to estimate the credit is available at
National Community Tax Coalition
The National Community Tax Coalition provides technical assistance to organizations seeking to
provide free tax preparation assistance. The website has a database of all the free tax preparation
programs in the country at http://www.tax-coalition.org/programs.htm.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Office of Family Assistance?s web page includes a link to the names of all state TANF programs.
Welfare Peer Technical Assistance Network
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This forum, operated by the Administration for Children and Families, is geared to help states and
localities operating TANF programs to explore promising practices nationwide. The site?s Innovative
Programs,TA Summaries and especially the Interactive Q&A, each contain valuable information on a
variety of state-specific support services.
Legal Services Corporation
The homepage for the Legal Services Corporation contains a map of LSC-funded organizations
nationwide. Where possible, the contact information contains a website where local organizations
frequently list their practice areas, like health, housing and public benefits. Some even contain
downloadable brochures and fact sheets on how to apply for work supports, rules of the programs
and how to resolve disputes.
48 WorkingVentures
Transportation Assistance
Community Transportation Association of America
Created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, CTAA?s employment
transportation toolkit (http://www.ctaa.org/data/toolkit_full.pdf) is a comprehensive guide to
establishing partnerships with transportation providers, purchasing transportation services and
expanding public transportation options. It also provides worksheets for doing a community
inventory of transportation resources. The website contains a brief on creating individual
transportation plans too.
Unemployment Insurance
Unemployment Insurance
U.S. Department of Labor
Devoted to unemployment insurance, this website offers detailed information on claims and benefits,
COBRA health benefits, self-employment assistance and much more. A map on the homepage links
users to state unemployment offices.
National Employment Law Project
NELP is an advocacy organization for under- and unemployed people. The website contains fact sheets
for workers, such as whether someone might qualify for extended benefits or what to do if someone
is turned down for benefits. NELP has also created a website specifically for unemployed people
Unrealized Gains 49
1 Nancy K. Cauthen and Hsien-Hen Lu, Employment Alone Is Not Enough for
America?s Low-Income Children and Families, p. 7, New York: National Center
for Children in Poverty, 2003.
2 Maria Cancian, et. al., ?Work, Earnings and Well-Being After Welfare: What Do
We Know?? in Economic Conditions and Welfare Reform, Sheldon Danziger, ed.,
Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute, 1999.
3 Gregory Acs, Katherin Ross Phillips, and Daniel McKenzie, ?Playing by the Rules,?
in Low-Wage Workers in the New Economy, Richard Kazis and Marc Miller, eds.,
Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2001.
4 Rebecca M. Blank, David Card and Philip K. Robins, Financial Incentives for
Increasing Work and Income Among Low-Income Families, Chicago: Joint Center
for Poverty Research, 2000 (earned income disregards accounted for some rise in
employment among welfare recipients) and David T. Ellwood, The Impact of the
Earned Income Tax Credit and Social Policy Reforms on Work, Marriage and Living
Arrangements, Boston: Harvard University, 2000 (EITC has had a positive effect
on work).
5 Nisha Patel, Mark Greenberg, Steve Savner, et. al., Making Ends Meet: Six Programs
That Help Working Families and Employers, Washington, DC: Center for Law
and Social Policy, 2002.
6 Pamela Loprest, Who Returns to Welfare?, Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2002
(use of work supports lowers the rate of return to welfare).
7 Issue Focus: Boosting Income for Working Parents Pays Off for Children, Washington,
DC: MDRC, accessed May 2004 at http://www.mdrc.org/area_issue_7.html
(supplements to low-income working parents? earnings led ?to higher employment
and income levels among single parents?); Nisha Patel, Mark Greenberg, Steve Savner,
et. al., Making Ends Meet: Six Programs That Help Working Families and Employers,
Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy, 2002 (work supports are linked
to greater financial security).
50 WorkingVentures
8 In this budget, it is assumed that Marsha will need the top of the rental cost range she
alluded to in her narrative. But because it is the top of the range, it is also assumed
that the rent includes utilities and heating costs. Food costs are based on the
Self-Sufficiency Standard for Illinois computation for a four-person household.
(Diana Pearce with Jennifer Brooks, The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Illinois, p. 41,
Table 5, Washington, D.C.: Wider Opportunities for Women, December 2001.)
Transportation is the cost of a Chicago Transportation Authority monthly pass.
In this scenario, it is assumed that Marsha?s 14-year-old will care for his
11-year-old-brother after school, but the cost of full-time child care for her
two-year-old daughter is also provided by the Self-Sufficiency Standard. (Ibid.) It is
assumed that Marsha?s employer provides health care coverage for her family, but the
Self-Sufficiency Standard estimates that an employee with three children will still pay
$284 a month in contributions to insurance premiums, copayments, costs of uncovered
expenses, and deductibles. (Ibid., p. 6 and p. 41, Table 5.) Marsha?s basic needs are
calculated at 10 percent of the other costs (as does the Self-Sufficiency Standard, Ibid.
p. 7), which would have to cover everything from clothing and household goods to
paying off her student loan; it excludes entertainment and savings. Last, her payroll
taxes are estimated at $362 a month, using the Illinois Self-Sufficiency Calculator.
(Illinois Department of Employment Security and Wider Opportunities for Women,
Self-Sufficiency Calculator, http://www.ides.state.il.us/calculator/default.asp.)
9 The Food Stamps estimate is provided by a benefit calculator on the Illinois
Department of Human Services website (http://www.dhs.state.il.us:8080/FSCalc).
Illinois Department of Human Services also has a calculator for child care that
revealed that Marsha would be eligible for the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program
(http://www.dhs.state.il.us/chp/ofh/MIH/eligcalc.asp). Therefore, she would only
have to pay a $20-a-week copay. Illinois?s KidCare Rebate program will reimburse
Marsha for up to $75 per child toward the cost of her children?s premiums; here, we
have estimated that cost at $50 per child for a total of $150. Marsha?s EITC was
figured with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities? Earned Income Tax Credit
Estimator for 2003 (http://www.cbpp.org/eic2003/eitcs2.htm). The Child Tax Credit
figure was provided by The Center for Economic Progress.
10 Food Stamp Program: Steps Have Been Taken to Increase Participation of Working
Families, but Better Tracking of Efforts Is Needed, Washington, D.C.: United States
General Accounting Office, March 2004.
Unrealized Gains 51
11 Ann M. Collins, Jean I. Layzer, et. al., National Study of Child Care for Low-Income
Families, Washington, D.C.: Abt Associates, Inc., 2000.
12 Julie Strawn and Karin Martinson, Steady Work and Better Jobs: How to Help
Low-Income Parents Sustain Employment and Advance in the Workforce, p. 12,
Washington, D.C.: MDRC, 2000.
13 Julie Strawn and Karin Martinson, Steady Work and Better Jobs: How to Help
Low-Income Parents Sustain Employment and Advance in the Workforce,
Washington, D.C.: MDRC, 2000, and Nanette Relave, Work Supports for
Low-Income Working Families, Washington, D.C.: Welfare Information Network, 2002.
14 Nanette Relave, Work Supports for Low-Income Working Families, p. 3, Washington,
D.C.: Welfare Information Network, 2002.
15 Ibid.
16 Michael E. Fishman and Harold Beebout, Supports for Working Poor Families: A New
Approach, Falls Church, Virginia: The Lewin Group, 2001.
17 Ibid.
18 Julie Strawn and Karin Martinson, Steady Work and Better Jobs: How to Help
Low-Income Parents Sustain Employment and Advance in the Workforce, p. 108,
Washington, D.C.: MDRC, 2000.
19 Katy Jacob, Sharyl Hudson and Malcolm Bush, Tools for Survival: An Analysis of
Financial Literacy Programs for Lower-Income Families, p. 6, Chicago: Woodstock
Institute, 2000.
20 See Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein, Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive
Welfare and Low-Wage Work, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1997.