Improving Outcomes Among Employment Program Participants Through Goal Attainment: A Conceptual Framework

Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Jun 30, 2017
Mary Anne Anderson, Jacqueline F. Kauff, and Elizabeth W. Cavadel

Key Findings:

  • Self-regulation and goal attainment are promising areas of focus for employment programs; in our conceptual framework, self-regulation skills enable people to prepare for behavior change and to set, pursue, and evaluate goals (together, these actions are referred to as the goal achievement process).
  • Engaging in a goal achievement process enables people to attain their personal employment-related goals, which eventually can lead to increased well-being and self-sufficiency.
  • Aspects of the environment, including the program environment, can support or hinder the use of self-regulation skills and a person’s engagement in a goal achievement process.
  • Employment and other programs funded by public or private agencies may be candidates for incorporating and testing these interventions, not only to build knowledge of whether and how they work, but also to provide an evidence base for the theoretical relationships presented in the framework.
This document presents a conceptual framework suggesting new approaches to improving economic self-sufficiency and well-being outcomes for low-income adults participating in employment programs. Grounded in research on the importance of goals and the factors that contribute to attaining them, the framework suggests interventions that seek to improve participants’ self-regulation skills and behaviors that can help them to achieve their goals. It also suggests ways that programs can change their practices to make it easier for participants to use their skills and increase the likelihood that they will reach their goals. Practitioners, policymakers, and researchers interested in exploring innovative strategies to promote self-sufficiency can use this framework to test new approaches. Creating new programs or incorporating these approaches into existing ones has the potential to address barriers to employment and improve the success of traditional education and occupational skills training.

Evaluation of Employment Coaching for TANF and Related Populations


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Mary Anne Anderson
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Jacqueline Kauff
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Elizabeth Cavadel
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