Testing Case Management in a Rural Context: An Impact Analysis of the Illinois Future Steps Program

Findings from the Rural Welfare-to-Work Strategies Demonstration Evaluation
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Sep 17, 2008
Alicia Meckstroth, Ann Person, Quinn Moore, Andrew Burwick, Andrew McGuirk, Michael Ponza, Shawn Marsh, Timothy Novak, Zhanyun Zhao, and Justin Wheeler
This report presents 30-month impact analysis findings for the Illinois Future Steps program, an employment-focused case management program in rural, southern Illinois. By teaming the welfare agency with a regional community college, Future Steps aimed to connect people with services and employment. Future Steps had few positive impacts on employment, self-sufficiency, and well-being. Implementation challenges included limited ties with local employers and difficulty retaining and supporting qualified staff. Moreover, the program was not able to capitalize on job-training and employment resources available through its community college partner. In addition, case management may have helped clients address barriers to work and self-sufficiency, but many obstacles remained. Expanded job opportunities and infrastructure improvements may be needed to overcome persistent barriers to self-sufficiency common in depressed rural areas.