Case Study of an Employment Program Serving People with Low Income: Business Link

Publication Date: September 2, 2021
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  • Published: 2021

Introduction

This case study describes Business Link, a program providing job placement and subsidized employment opportunities to recipients of cash assistance and other people with low incomes who live in New York City. The program establishes connections with local businesses and helps them recruit, screen, and hire job candidates. The goal is to help people achieve self-sufficiency by matching participants who are ready to work with available job opportunities. Business Link is housed in the New York City Human Resources Administration.

This case study is part of the State TANF Case Studies project, which is designed to expand the knowledge base on innovative approaches to help people with low incomes, including TANF recipients, prepare for and engage in work and increase their overall stability. Mathematica and its subcontractor, MEF Associates, were contracted by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop descriptive case studies of nine innovative state and local programs. The programs were chosen through a scan of the field and discussions with stakeholders. TANF practitioners and staff of other programs can learn about innovative practices through the case studies. The studies also can expand policymakers’ and researchers’ understanding of programs that support people’s success in work and highlight innovative practices to explore in future research.

Purpose

The purpose of this case study is to describe Business Link in detail and highlight its key features: where Business Link operates; whom it serves; what services Business Link provides; how Business Link is organized, staffed, and funded; how Business Link measures program participation and outcomes; and promising practices and remaining challenges.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Business Link’s main approach to serving people with low incomes is to deliver employment-based interventions that provide job placement and subsidized employment opportunities to cash assistance recipients and other people with low incomes who live in New York City.
  • Business Link provides three core services: (1) matching of residents to jobs identified by job developers, (2) temporary paid work experience and work readiness training through the Job Training Program for individuals who receive cash assistance, and (3) 20 weeks of subsidized employment and work readiness training through the Shelter Exit Transitional  jobs program for cash assistance recipients in the shelter system.
  • Promising practices include providing subsidies to employers for hiring individuals with low incomes, creating close relationships with employers to develop job opportunities, and dedicating staff to work with job seekers experiencing homelessness.

Methods

To select programs for case studies, the study team, in collaboration with ACF, first identified approaches that showed promise in providing employment-related services to individuals and linking them to wraparound supports, such as child care and transportation. The next step was to hold initial discussions with program leaders to learn more about their programs and gauge their interest in being one of the case studies. Once the list of programs was narrowed, the project team, in collaboration with ACF, selected the final set of programs to reflect diversity in geography and focus population.

Two members of the research team conducted semi-structured video interviews with eight staff, including the administrator, managers, account managers, and job developers, in summer 2020. An in-person site visit to New York City was planned for April 2020, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team was not able to meet with participants or observe program activities because the data collection was virtual.

Citation

Webster, R., and M. Farrell (2021). “Case study of an employment program serving people with low income: Business Link.” OPRE Report #2021-93, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.