LIFT: Implementation Findings from the Evaluation of Employment Coaching

LIFT: Implementation Findings from the Evaluation of Employment Coaching

OPRE Report #2021-223
Published: Oct 29, 2021
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Karen Gardiner

Sheena McConnell

Key Findings

Overall, LIFT was implemented as designed. Key findings from the implementation study are:

  • Coaching began immediately with intake staff who assessed the participants’ priorities and satisfaction with different areas of their lives. Thus, all participants received at least one coaching session. The assigned coach met with the participant shortly thereafter to begin the coaching relationship.
  • Most coaching sessions followed a standard format focused on goals and action steps, but coaches deviated from that format if participants had immediate needs.
  • Coaches were typically unpaid graduate student interns, a cost-effective approach but with implications for continuity of the coaching relationship.
  • Coaches generally succeeded in providing collaborative and nondirective coaching and developed trusting relationships with participants.
  • On average, participants had 6.5 coaching sessions over the first nine months; by month nine, more than half of participants remained in contact with LIFT.
  • LIFT offered incentives for participating in coaching sessions, but about 40 percent of participants did not receive one.
  • Non-coaching services aimed to strengthen participants’ skills and peer networks.

This report summarizes the design and implementation of LIFT, a coaching intervention in four cities that aims to help participants identify and attain goals related to self-sufficiency. Over two years, volunteer coaches, who are unpaid Masters of Social Work student interns, work with participants on short- and long-term goals specific to finances, education, and/or employment. The program also provides financial incentives to encourage ongoing participation in coaching sessions, and workshops and social events to build participants’ skills and social networks. To be eligible for the program, potential participants must be a parent or caregiver of a child under age 8 and demonstrate a level of stability necessary to work on long- and short-term goals. LIFT is one of four coaching interventions included in the Evaluation of Employment Coaching for TANF and Related Populations. Sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the evaluation aims to learn more about the potential of different coaching approaches in helping low-income adults become more economically secure. The evaluation includes an implementation study and an impact study.

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