Improving service delivery for clients, increasing efficiency, and minimizing costs are key goals for TANF programs. In recent years, evidence, evaluation, and program analytics have helped harness the power of evidence and data to improve program outcomes.
- Employment and training initiatives
- Public welfare programs
- Evidence-based technical assistance
- Training and Re-employment
- Family Support
- TANF and Employment Issues
- Human Services
Michelle Derr specializes in translating research findings effectively to improve public policies and direct practice. Her work focuses on evaluating employment and training initiatives targeted to public assistance clients, ex-offenders, people with disabilities, and other disadvantaged populations, visiting more than 130 localities in 35 states and territories as part of this work. She currently serves as a principal investigator for the Next Generation of Enhanced Employment Strategies Evaluation. She serves in a similar capacity on an evaluation of and coaching interventions for TANF recipients and other hard-to-employ populations and on a study of goal achievement strategies for low-income populations.
Putting her knowledge into practice, Derr leads efforts across the country to improve the quality of technical assistance and create stronger linkages between program technical assistance and evaluation. She has developed and delivered an innovative process for supporting organizational and program change called, “Learn, Innovate, Improve or LI2,”—an evidence-informed, systematic process for working with stakeholders to improve program quality and achieve target outcomes—often with no new funding or policy change. Derr currently leads federal, state, and local projects working on innovative program changes for low-income populations that includes coaching and achieving goals, developing work and personal skills, and managing stress. In partnership with practitioners, she co-designed Goal4 It!TM, a science-informed practice model that activates a person’s motivation and commitment to change, that is being implemented in human service and workforce agencies across the country. She is well-known nationally for her ability to inspire and motivate research and practice communities to co-create and test innovative practices that improve outcomes for children and families.
Derr is recognized as an expert among federal and state policymakers and program administrators for her substantive knowledge of promising practices to help disadvantaged job seekers gain employment and the use rapid-cycle methods. She presents regularly at national and state conferences, technical work groups, and strategic change meetings. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Utah
Project IMPROVE: Improving Program Outcomes Via Evidence-Based Technical Assistance
Project AWESOME: Advancing Welfare and Family Self-Sufficiency Research
Project AWESOME, a multi-year effort, is producing cross-cutting research that is responsive to the needs and interests of the field. Mathematica is supporting the development, implementation, and dissemination of this research program.
Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Consortium
The Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Consortium (The Consortium) aims to improve the lives of low-income families and children by integrating research, policy, and practice on family self-sufficiency and stability.
Improving the Coordination and Performance of Government Programs for Disadvantaged Job Seekers
Mathematica is documenting strategies for increasing client engagement in federal- and state-defined work activities and highlights promising practices in TANF/WIA coordination.
Michelle Derr - Disrupting the Poverty Cycle Conference 2018 - Ideas with Impact
Michelle Derr speaks about Rapid Cycle Redesign at the Disrupting the Poverty Cycle Conference 2018 on Friday, November 2. (Source: University of Massachusetts-Boston YouTube channel.)