This report describes the operation of an intensive job search assistance program for cash assistance recipients in Westchester County, New York. In 2016-2017, Westchester County operated a full-time, eight-week course to teach job readiness and job search skills. Called STRIVE, the program addressed participants’ attitudes and behaviors that might prevent them from obtaining or keeping jobs and helped them search for jobs.
- Westchester County implemented the STRIVE program largely as designed, following the national curriculum and receiving technical assistance from STRIVE International.
- A significant portion of cash assistance recipients who had to work could not meet STRIVE’s attendance requirement. Common reasons included part-time employment, court-mandated meetings, and substance abuse disorder treatment.
- Detailed information on recipients’ needs and circumstances was needed to determine whether they were appropriate and eligible for the STRIVE program.
- The “no-show” rate for the STRIVE program was substantial, 56 percent.
- Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of recipients who started the STRIVE program did not finish because issues arose that prevented them from meeting attendance requirements.
- STRIVE’s standard “confrontational” approach did not work well for some cash assistance recipients, producing adjustments to “soften” the tone of the program.
- The aspects of the STRIVE curricula dedicated to improving cash assistance recipients’ attitudes and behaviors took more class time than generally recommended.