An Evaluation of a Welfare-to-work Program at a Rural Community College: An Action Oriented Approach -- Lori Fabritius is the Project Manager for Continuing Education at Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY.
In 1996, the United States Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, placing emphasis on welfare recipients to take responsibility for becoming economically self-sufficient and free from governmental dependency. Since that enactment, changes in this legislation have made it difficult for some welfare clients to meet employment requirements. Using an action-oriented approach, this research focused on a Welfare-to-Work (W-t-W) program for welfare participants attending a community college. The purpose of this dissertation was to determine the challenges and strengths of the program, as perceived by the W-t-W students, and get their recommendations for improving its quality. Data were collected from 21 program participants through focus group interview sessions, and the finding revealed numerous strengths: exceptional qualities of program staff, additional financial assistance for college, excellent job search assistance; convenience of having the program on campus, and networking with other community resources. Challenges included: threat of losing program funding, problems associated with Department of Social Service case workers and TANF regulations, lack of evening hours, and the need for a bilingual case manager. Recommendations were also made for improving the program, yet in the course of this study, the program closed due to changes in funding priorities.