The Employment Retention & Advancement Project (ERA) compared methods of helping full-time working clients get ahead in their jobs. The ERA Project took place in several Cook County FCRCs and in St. Clair County. The ERA Project operated from 02/02 through 08/04. Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. Participation in the project was mandatory for those assigned to the experimental group. Failure to participate could be sanctioned.

Months did not count toward the TANF 60-month time limit if an ERA participant was:

  • in education or training-focused activities for at least 10 hours a week; and
  • worked at least 20 hours a week.

Specialized approaches focused on education, training, and/or work-related programs that might help a client move up to a better job and receive better wages and benefits were provided to ERA Project participants. Activities included:

  • developing a job advancement plan;
  • identifying career ladders, either with the client's current employer or with another employer or industry;
  • targeting job development;
  • job search assistance;
  • career counseling;
  • working with employers to develop advancement strategies;
  • removing specific barriers;
  • coordinating work supports (e.g., child care, Medicaid, employment expenses, supportive services); and/or
  • pursuing educational and/or training activities that develop or expand a client's job expertise.