In July 2010, the Employment and Training Administration contracted with Mathematica Policy Research for an evaluation study of the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP). The study had three main components: 1) case studies of NFJP grantees, based on site visits, to learn more about the context in which grantees’ operate, their partnerships in the community, their approaches for serving farmworkers, and their technical assistance needs; 2) a cross-site analysis of NFJP administrative data to shed light on clients’ use of services and factors that contribute to performance measures; and 3) development of a final report that describes both the key challenges grantees face and promising practices they have implemented.
The evaluation was designed to learn the breadth of grantee practices and how to improve program policies and services, focusing on six key research topics: 1) area context; 2) program services; 3) partnerships and American Job Centers (AJCs); 4) performance measures and outcomes; 5) recordkeeping of services; 6) technical assistance (TA).
Key findings from the evaluation, and the implications of those findings, include the following:
- Although many of the challenges facing NFJP grantees are endemic to all job training
and job-search support programs, they are compounded by other issues that are specific to serving farmworkers. Farmworkers have nontrivial barriers to employment, including a lack of work experience outside of farm work, limited educational achievement, and lack of adequate language skills needed to perform well in most workplaces. Also, eligible farmworkers can be difficult to locate because of family members’ work-authorization status, some are reluctant to get involved with any government-sponsored services, and documenting farmworker eligibility can take several months if they need to register for Selective Service or replace lost citizenship documentation.
- Grantees strategies for serving the farmworker population included seeking out
partnerships that complement in-house services to fully address the needs of farmworkers, stretching NFJP resources by leveraging other funding sources to provide services, co-locating with partners to increase farmworkers’ access to a range of services, making training programs financially plausible for farmworkers, and using training programs that meet multiple needs at once.
- Four specific areas of development that might help grantees better serve farmworkers through NFJP: 1) assistance in creating specialized education and training programs;
2) technical assistance for job-development and placement activities as well as strategies to collect and verify employment, in order to improve performance reporting; 3) improved partnerships between grantees and AJCs; and 4) improvements in data collection and recordkeeping systems to enhance grantees’ ability to track service receipt and outcomes.