Learn, Innovate, Improve: Lessons from Mesa County's Efforts to Increase Engagement in the Colorado Works Program

Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica
Aug 30, 2019
Authors
Julie Worthington Hartnack, Shelley Grattan, and Jerrie Julius

Key Findings:

  • The revamped eligibility interview process, which included an orientation to Vroom (a parenting empowerment and tips tool) and a short overview video, showed promising signs of increased upfront engagement.
  • Three out of four (75 percent) parents receiving the full revamped eligibility intervention attended an orientation session within 30 days, compared to 58 percent of parents who received the business-as-usual approach.
  • Sixty-nine percent of parents who received a “light” version of the revamped eligibility intervention attended an orientation session within 30 days, but this was not statistically different from the rate of the business-as-usual group.

In partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Mesa County (Colorado) Department of Human Services, Mathematica helped apply a behavioral science lens to identify factors that contribute to low engagement in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The team then co-created an evidence-informed solution and tested it to see whether it improved participants’ up-front engagement in the program. This brief describes the county’s efforts—which were guided by the Learn, Innovate, Improve (LI²) framework—to design, test, and learn from a research-informed solution to the challenge of low follow-through from an eligibility interview to program orientation.