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The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County

Introduction

Los Angeles County is part of the state of California, which has the highest Gross Domestic Product within the United States economy. Yet, economical data show that unemployment and poverty are the most pressing social problems in Los Angeles County. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001).

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In 1988 the Los Angeles County launched the first Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) program. The focus of the program was to give welfare recipients the possibility to educate themselves to be more competitive in the employment market. However, an evaluation of the program revealed its weaknesses. Some of them were the high cost of the program, a few benefits for recipients, and minimal reduction in welfare expenditures. (Freedman, Mitchell, & Navarro,1999). These initial findings then moved the administrator to transform the program in the mid-1990s.

This is why a program re-evaluation is needed. The main reason for the evaluation of the program is to try to assess why so many individuals are not employed within a county with such big potential and what is the role that the program has played in this respect.

The stakeholders are the people participating in the Job-First GAIN program.

Additional stakeholder groups also, like other immigrants and minority populations in the area (The Research Forum, 2003).

And the evaluation of the program is necessary to see how it is responding to the needs of these people whom the program was designed to help.

Below I will introduce the structure of the evaluation.

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Problem

Los Angeles County is the most populated county in the United States with an estimated population of 9,883,649. It is part of the state of California, which has the highest Gross Domestic Product within the United States economy. Yet, economical data show that unemployment and poverty are the most pressing social problems in Los Angeles County. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). The data we have show that 64.1% of the population, part of the labor force, is employed. Meanwhile, the poverty level for the family is 12.4% and on an individual calculation is 15.4%. These are astonishing estimates, evidently higher than the nation’s average of 9.8% and 13.3% respectively. Thus, making these people very much reliant on welfare. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007).

Program description

It was back in 1988 when the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) launched the first Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) program. The focus of the program was to give welfare recipients adult basic education. The main objective was that of offering these people the possibility to educate themselves to be more competitive in the employment market.

The result would have been people who work more and stop relying on welfare. Participants were given remedial English and Math, preparations for GED tests, or the acquisition of English as a second language for non-native speakers of English. However, an evaluation of the program revealed its weaknesses. Some of them were the high cost of the program, a few benefits for recipients, and minimal reduction in welfare expenditures. (Freedman, Mitchell, & Navarro,1999).

These initial findings then moved the administrator to transform the program in the mid-1990s. Now the focus was on Work-First with a thrust of moving welfare recipients to employment as quickly as possible while renaming it as Job-First GAIN program. Then an evaluation of the Job-First GAIN program in its first year revealed the restructuring program to be more cost-effective than the original GAIN program as it showed an increase in employment for participants and a decrease in welfare reliance.

By using experimental and control groups in a sample which “includes 15,683 single parents (AFDC-FGs) and 5,048 members of two-parent families (AFDCUs)” (Freedman et al., 1999), it was revealed that there was an increase of 11% for single-parent families in welfare moving into employment with average first-year earnings of $750, or 31% more than the controlled group. While there was an increase of 12% for other families in welfare moving into employment with an average earning of $1,082 or 44% more than the controlled group.

Another assessment was made in the second year of the Job-First GAIN program which showed its continued gain in employment, reduction in welfare, and cost-effectiveness but there were still many unemployed people and the people employed were in jobs that offered low wages and minimal benefits. Finally, the Job-First GAIN program was replaced in April 1998 with the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) under the Los Angeles County’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) brought by the 1996 federal welfare reform law (Freedman, Knab, Gennetian, & Navarro,2000).

Reason to Conduct a Program Evaluation

An important question to be answered is why conduct a program evaluation at this specific moment? As I have mentioned above, Los Angeles County is part of California, the state with the highest Gross Domestic Product share in the United States. And the United States is the country with the highest Gross Domestic Product in the world. It is a contradiction to have such enormous potential and yet have so many groups of society not included in the labor market but dependent on welfare programs. The main driving reason behind the conduct of the evaluation of the program is to try to assess why so many individuals are not employed within a county with such big potential and what is the role that the program has played in this respect. Also, an important reason is to show what role, and how, can this program play in the future.

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This is the most important part of this program evaluation. Its purpose is to help people and families and this evaluation can play a significant role in showing what can, or cannot, be done better in this respect.

Stakeholders

The other question to be answered is to determine the groups that are affected by this program, its stakeholders. Of course, the first stakeholders are the people participating in the Job-First GAIN program. These people range from single-parent families and normal families to individuals who are recipients of welfare in Los Angeles County. But there are additional stakeholder groups also, like other immigrants and minority populations in the area (The Research Forum, 2003). Depending on the structure of the program governmental structures hold a vested interest in the GAIN program. The local government can be taken into account as a stakeholder because of the costs of the program and its effectiveness. This last determines the length of the program, which results in further costs if prolonged.

Research question(s)

The first research question is to determine what were the factors that brought to a program re-organization in the mid-1990s?

Then, now that the Job-First GAIN program is established it would be necessary to make a differentiation among the different stakeholder groups the program addresses. This would aim to find which individuals need more attention and help from the program and which less.

Another question to be answered is the classification of the help given to these individuals in need. Their background and different situations should be taken into consideration to give them proper assistance.

And finally, a market survey should be made to respond adequately to what is the market demanding and how can we help these people in need to find their ways of employment in this market.

Variables

Participants of this program evaluation are grouped into nominal and ordinal variables. An Interval scale will be used to make a differentiation between groups and, especially, individuals that need more help. Below I will explain the three of them.

Nominal variables are when the participants of the program are classified according to their natural attributes, like sex and gender, age, race, and ethnic background (like White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native Indian, Pacific Islander, or other races). Nominal variables are even when we base the classification on certain society-made attributes such as single-parent families, for example (Lotz, Imbens, & Klerman, 2000).

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Ordinal variables apply when participants of the program are grouped according to rank or order such as high school graduates or college graduates.

An Interval scale is a mode of measuring and grouping the quantitative data gathered from the above-mentioned variables. The central tendency of a variable measured at the interval level can be represented by its mode, its median, or its arithmetic mean. In our program evaluation we will use the mode and median to determine the most affected groups, and individuals, from the program and the need for help these groups, or individuals, have.

Research design

The first phase of the research will be composed of the interview made to the staff working on the GAIN program before it changed during the mid-1990s. These are the (mainly governmental) officials who were in charge of implementing the program. The reason for this set of the interview is to take their opinion of what went wrong on the program and what should have been done better. Also, with high interest in their evaluation of the perception from the people recipient of the benefits of the programs. This way we will try to assess an internal point of view of what went wrong in the first GAIN program.

The second set of interviews should take place in the second phase of the research. This time the people involved in the actual implementation of the program should be interviewed. The reason is to take feedback from them for the implementation of the current program.

Their thoughts about what should be done and what is wrong (if there is something wrong) on the actual program are of much interest. Also, from them is important to gather their opinions about how the people that the program is designed to help have perceived it. Another important aspect of these interviews is to gather their opinions and recommendations of what must be changed to make this program more effective and successful. Again, this way we will have an internal point of view on the ongoing of the program and what should be done differently to improve it.

The third phase of the evaluation process is to survey the actual people participating in the program. Their thoughts and opinions of how are the program functioning are crucial to the evaluation process. In this survey, we will try to catch their feelings on what are their needs and how much is the program responding to these needs. This would be an important indicator showing the functionality of the program. If it is not by what most of its recipients consider being their immediate needs, then we can say the program has serious problems.

A fourth phase would be to conduct a general survey of the market combined with small research of the area’s social problems. A small special group of researchers can be formed to perform this operation. This group will be composed of social and economics scientist that will determine what is the current situation of the labor market and what its possible developments are. The second part will be to determine what are the main social problems related to Los Angeles County and how can the Job-First program respond adequately to these problems. The reason behind this research inside research is because the purpose of the program is to help people find jobs and to do this it has to make as compatible as it can these people in need with market demands.

The fifth and final phase would be that of data analysis and conclusions. The data from the survey of the third phase would be grouped in interval scale to classify the social groups participating in the program according to who needs more assistance and what kind of particularities should the assistance have for these groups. The data from the interview in the first and second phases will be grouped to show the internal perception of what has gone wrong with the GAIN program and what can be improved. This data will be coupled with the conclusions of the social and economic scientists group about the market demands and expectancies and how can the program help people meet them.

Estimated Budget

Most of the budget will be for the fieldwork of making the surveys and research about the market. It will take up to 50-55% of the budget to conduct this survey of the people participating in the program. This high percentage of the total cost will comprise the technical costs of the survey, the reward for field workers, and for the analysts who will make the final report.

The interviews of the first and second phases will require 25-30% of the cost of operations. And the rest will be for the final phase of the conclusion where all the “brainpower” and analysis will be expressed to reach an evaluation about the ongoing of the program and recommendations of what should be done differently and how people’s needs should be meet properly.

Summary

The GAIN program was an effort to help people in need in the Los Angeles County area to be part of the employment market. This will give them the possibility to have their monthly revenues and not depend on the state’s welfare program. As a result of both, the state and the people recipients of the program, would benefit from this situation.

The benefit for the state would be that of diminishing the costs of welfare programs and redirect the money used for them to fulfill other requirements. In turn, the people would benefit because they will become part of the labor market and will have monthly revenues, wages, that are substantially higher than what is offered by the welfare programs.

But not only, they will have jobs to rely on, but this system would benefit the whole economic development and markets of the region. This way people will have more possibilities for increasing their wealth. This is something that would have been very difficult if they were completely relying on welfare programs.

This is why an evaluation of the GAIN program is needed at this time. GAIN first began in the 1980s but it was reformed during the mid-1990’ because it was not working as it should have. Now it is time to evaluate the process at this moment and to determine what should be done differently to fulfill its promises of helping people find jobs and get e better life.

References:

Freedman, S., Knab, J. T., Gennetian, L. A., & Navarro, D. (2000). The Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN evaluation: Final report on a work first program in d-lnajor urban center. Web.

Freedman, S., Mitchell, M., & Navarro, D. (1999). The Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN evaluation First-Year findings on participation patterns. Web.

Hotz,V. J., Imbens, G. W., & Klerman, J. A. (2000). The longlerm gains from GAIN: A reanalysis of the impacts of the California GAIN program. Web.

The Research Forum. (2003). Los Angeles Jobs-First GAIN evaluation. Web.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2007). Los Angeles County, Califomia- Fact sheet. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 15). The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-gain-program-in-the-los-angeles-county/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 15). The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County. https://studycorgi.com/the-gain-program-in-the-los-angeles-county/

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"The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County." StudyCorgi, 15 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/the-gain-program-in-the-los-angeles-county/.

1. StudyCorgi. "The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County." November 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-gain-program-in-the-los-angeles-county/.


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StudyCorgi. "The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County." November 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-gain-program-in-the-los-angeles-county/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County." November 15, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-gain-program-in-the-los-angeles-county/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The GAIN Program in the Los Angeles County'. 15 November.

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