Healthy Workers, Healthy Wisconsin

Background

Poor health can undermine sustainable employment, particularly among vulnerable populations. Additionally, exposure to early adversity and trauma is not only highly prevalent among low-income groups, but has also been shown to interfere with job-related outcomes. To address this problem in the State of Wisconsin, the Community Advocates’ Public Policy Institute has partnered with the Institute for Child and Family Well-being on the Improving Health Through Enhanced Work project, which will build on the success of the State of Wisconsin’s Transitional Jobs Program by integrating new program components intended to increase its effectiveness.

Joblessness and poverty contribute to poor physical and mental health outcomes. Likewise, poor physical and mental health undermine employment access and sustainability. This project aims to enhance existing transitional employment services in urban and rural communities by promoting access to primary and behavioral health care for job-seeking adults. Specifically, in addition to promoting access to subsidized employment, the enhanced program will help participants: (a) obtain health insurance coverage and establish care with a primary care physician, and (b) complete a trauma screening protocol that is followed by, if indicated, a referral to mental health services.

The project evaluation will use a mixed-methods approach. Qualitative data will be gathered at multiple time points through semi-structured interviews aimed at understanding participants’ social histories and their experiences in both the conventional and enhanced transitional jobs programs. For the quantitative arm of the evaluation, an experimental design will be employed. Potential program participants will be randomly assigned to either the enhanced transitional jobs programs or the conventional jobs program. Longitudinal data will be collected and analyzed to test whether program enhancements are associated with significant change in participant outcomes, including sustained employment, access to health care and mental health services, and improved psychosocial functioning.

Team

ICFW Academic Partners:
Joshua Mersky
David Pate
James Topitzes

Funding

Wisconsin Partnership Program, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Partners

Community Advocates, Public Policy Institute:
Conor Williams
Julie Kerksick
David Reimer
Kari Lerch

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