Local Commitment to JOBS
This thesis makes an argument for the importance of a high level of commitment from local departments of social services, area businesses, and community organizations to the implementation of the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program. It contends that such a commitment is a necessary pre-condition for JOBS to ever be successful. It then examines the level of commitment these actors have to JOBS in Roanoke, Virginia in order to explore the process by which local commitment to JOBS is created. A case study was conducted to determine what mechanisms, if any, are currently in place to support such a commitment.
Of even greater significance, this analysis suggests the importance of changing our method of evaluating social welfare policy. We need to move beyond analyzing the actions of participants and the impact a program has on participants to illuminating the entire process by which social welfare policy operates if we are to fully understand its impacts.
Upon examining the legislative history of the Family Support Act of 1988 (JOBS is the centerpiece of this act) I found no substantial discussion of the importance of encouraging local commitment to JOBS. This suggests that sustaining local commitment was not considered a high priority by federal policy makers. An examination of the actual level of commitment from a local department of social services, area businesses, and community organizations suggests there is a great deal of work yet to be done in establishing an integrated community-based approach to welfare reform.
Based on the results of this research, I concluded that community commitment to JOBS can best be established by increasing commitment from all three levels of government. I also developed a hypothesis. Higher levels of commitment from within a locality will be associated with more "successful" JOBS programs. Although the newness of JOBS precludes the immediate testing of this hypothesis, future research can be conducted to determine if we find higher levels of commitment in areas with more successful JOB programs.