CITY OF PHILADELPHIA,
WorkWise Program Connects
Single Welfare Mothers with Jobs in City, Surrounding
Philadelphia’s WorkWise Program targets single
mothers on welfare who have limited or no work history and who may have
serious family and personal problems. The Program provides a full range of
job readiness, preparation, placement, retention and support services,
including on-site job coaching. Services are designed to overcome the
problems that are barriers to employment; most job placements are in the
suburbs surrounding the City.
Operated by the
Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Community Services and funded by the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare, the WorkWise Program provides
single mothers on welfare with job readiness training, job matching and on-site
coaching to encourage job retention. Eighty percent of those who have been
placed in jobs by the program now work in Philadelphia’s surrounding
referred to the program by local welfare offices; they are single mothers with
limited or no work history and no more than nine years of formal schooling.
Other problems they may be facing include: a sustained adult living experience
at or below the federal poverty level; reading at or below a sixth-grade level;
a history of domestic abuse, incest or other family violence; a weak or
non-existent family support network; and a spouse or partner who may find their
transition to work a threat. The 11 core services provided by WorkWise
- Culturally Competent Client Intake – The
intake process is respectful of the participants and helps them see how
their personal dreams can be realized by building a work history and
financial assets. Intake is performed by case managers who themselves
have succeeded in breaking the cycle of poverty by entering the labor
- Nationally Normed Assessment of Aptitudes, Interests, Skills and Competencies – The Philadelphia Private
Industry Council serves as a partner in this project; the PIC provides a
reading/comprehension assessment, Adult Basic Literacy Evaluation
(ABLE), and a computerized aptitude and interest inventory, APTICOM.
- Professional Case Management Support – In
1986 the Mayor’s Office of Community Services (MOCS) was selected to
design a case management model for providing services to homeless and
potentially homeless persons. MOCS led the nation in the creation of a
multi-level case management program, and the leader of this decade-long
effort serves as the case management supervisor for WorkWise.
- "State of the Art" Job Readiness Training – Key
components of job readiness training include motivational sessions, which
focus on building self-confidence; workforce orientation, which addresses
acceptable work habits and norms; appropriate relationships, which examine
relationships with co-workers and supervisors; and workplace terminology,
which introduces clients to the language of the job.
- Intensive Conflict Resolution Training – A
skills development seminar is integrated into the job readiness training
model to address common workplace issues, with emphasis on class and
- Multi-media Seminar on Office Technology –
Videotapes, technical specialists and CD Rom software packages build
participants’ comfort with the vocabulary of the new workplace and
ensure that they are at least visually familiar with the components of
- Professional and Computer-assisted Job Search and Job Matching – Job developers create a pool of positions
available to participants, in addition to ensuring that participants are
prepared for job interviews. The job developers drive out to suburban
commercial districts which are located along public transportation
routes to identify job openings and schedule interviews for program
- Individualized On-site Job Coaches for Employed Participants – Each employed participant, or each group of
participants on a given work site, has a job coach present at their
place of employment for two weeks.
- Personalized Support for Community Service Participants – Individuals with no work history who do not
demonstrate work-ready behavior are placed in community service
positions. Non-profit organizations that make a commitment to provide
job coaching and additional readiness training on their work sites are
able to take advantage of the community service slots.
- Computer Literacy Drop-in Center – MOCS has
arranged through partnership agencies for computer labs to be made
available to participants in the evening and on weekends so that
participants are able to build their computer literacy skills during
their non-work hours.
- Referral to Support Services with Regular Follow-Up on Participants’ Progress – The participants’ contact with
support agencies is encouraged and regularized so that they develop a
network of support services needed to sustain their success in the
Within eight weeks
of the their referral to the program, participants begin working with job
developers and going for job interviews. Their training continues during their
The program began
in September 1996. At the end of its first 18 months of operation, 743
participants had been enrolled. Of these, 347 (47 percent) had been placed in
jobs; the retention rate for this group is 70 percent. The other participants
had either gone on to further training or had found jobs on their own. Just 15
percent of the participants had returned to the welfare rolls.
Program has exceeded our expectations," says Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell.
"This success is attributable to the excellent working relationships among the
Mayor’s Office of Community Service, the Private Industry Council of
Philadelphia, the local County Assistance Office and the business community, and
to the innovative training and case management services that participants
Contact: Leon Simmons, Director, WorkWise Program,
Return to Previous Page.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352
Copyright © 1998, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.