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On the Road to a Good Career: HHS’ HPOG Program Helps Low-Income Americans Get Healthcare Training and Jobs

Major study from Abt Global provides rigorous evidence that program helps low-income adults get on higher-paying healthcare career path

Rockville, Md. – For low-income adults searching for quality career paths in healthcare, a mix of education, training, support services and employment assistance works well, regardless of the participants’ race/ethnicity, age or parenting status.

This is just one of several key findings from Abt Global’s new early impact report from the Health Professions Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

This first impact report contains early results on how career pathways programs are helping participants build a career, rather than simply get a job.

Administered by ACF, HPOG launched in 2010 with the aim of providing education and training to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income adults in healthcare occupations that pay well, address labor shortages or are in high-demand fields. The report describes the short-term impact results from the first round of HPOG grantees (known as HPOG 1.0). The research team assessed 23 grantees that offered 42 distinct programs across the country and followed more than 13,715 individuals over time.

The evaluation design involved randomly assigning eligible individuals into HPOG or into a control group, which did not have access to HPOG but could access other trainings and services in the community. This strong evaluation design means that the impacts can be thought of as “causal,” resulting directly from the HPOG program.

Key  findings from the early impact report consider impacts 15-18 months after study enrollment and include:

  • Training and Service Differences. HPOG provided participants much greater support than their non-HPOG peers across a variety of services, including academic, career and personal supports, and HPOG participants also participated in training at greater levels.
  • Educational Progress. Sixty-eight percent of HPOG participants had completed, or were currently enrolled in, occupational training in comparison to about 60 percent of their control group peers, a 12 percent relative improvement.
  • Employment in Healthcare. Although there was no difference in overall employment rates between HPOG participants and the control group, HPOG participants were more likely to be working in the healthcare sector: 41.4 percent of the control group versus 52.6 of the treatment group.  That 11.2 percentage point  difference represents a 27.1 relative impact, which is sizable.  This finding implies HPOG is meeting its charge to prepare the health care workforce and respond to local demand for workers.
  • Better Jobs with Benefits. HPOG participants were more likely to be working in jobs that offer health insurance than their non-HPOG peers. Health insurance is an important indicator of job quality.
  • Slightly More Earnings. HPOG participants also earned slightly more ($137 in the fifth follow-up quarter) than the control group, perhaps as a function of the greater share in healthcare sector jobs and with the greater share in jobs with benefits.
  • Increased Progress for All. HPOG improved educational progress for individuals across all major demographic and age groups. Progress was also evident for those with dependent children.

“We’re excited to report that HPOG is effective in the short-term, indicating that the program is  leading its participants in the right direction,” said Laura Peck, Abt Global principal scientist and co-principal investigator. “This evaluation considers an entire funding stream not just some cherry-picked ‘promising’  programs—and so it implies that a national investment in this program model is worthwhile.”

Additional impacts from the program’s evaluation will consider study participants’ experiences three  and six years after enrollment.

View a full copy of the report or project brief.

About Abt Global
Abt Global is an engine for social impact, dedicated to moving people from vulnerability to security.  Harnessing the power of data and our experts’ grounded insights, we provide research, consulting and technical services globally in the areas of health, environmental and social policy, technology and international development.

Amy Dunaway

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