Improving service delivery for clients, increasing efficiency, and minimizing costs are key goals for TANF programs. In recent years, evidence, evaluation, and program analytics have helped harness the power of evidence and data to improve program outcomes.
- Employment and training initiatives
- Public welfare programs
- Evidence-based technical assistance
- Family Support
- TANF and Employment Issues
- Training and Reemployment
Michelle Derr specializes in translating research findings effectively to improve public policies and direct practice. Her work focuses on evaluating employment and training initiatives targeted to public assistance clients, ex-offenders, people with disabilities, and other disadvantaged populations, visiting more than 100 localities in 33 states and territories as part of this work. She currently serves as a principal investigator for an evaluation of job search programs, primarily for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. She serves in a similar capacity on an evaluation of and coaching interventions for TANF recipients and other hard-to-employ populations and on a study of goal achievement strategies for low-income populations.
Putting her knowledge into practice, Derr leads efforts across the country to improve the quality of technical assistance and create stronger linkages between program technical assistance and evaluation. She has developed and delivered evidence-based technical assistance—an evidence-informed, systematic process for working with stakeholders to improve program quality and achieve target outcomes—often with no new funding or policy change. Derr currently works on innovative program changes for low-income populations that includes coaching and achieving goals, developing work and personal skills, and managing stress. She provides evidence-based technical assistance in more than a dozen sites, including the redesign of CalWORKs to a goal-achievement, family-focused approach and the implementation of the Lifelong Learning Initiative, an executive skills-informed coaching intervention in Ramsey County, Minnesota.
Derr is known among federal and state policymakers and program administrators for her substantive knowledge of promising practices to help disadvantaged job seekers gain employment. She presents regularly at national conferences, study briefings, and regional technical assistance meetings. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Utah.
Project IMPROVE: Improving Program Outcomes Via Evidence-Based Technical Assistance
Project AWESOME: Advancing Welfare and Family Self-Sufficiency Research
Project AWESOME, a multi-year effort, is producing cross-cutting research that is responsive to the needs and interests of the field. Mathematica is supporting the development, implementation, and dissemination of this research program.
Improving the Coordination and Performance of Government Programs for Disadvantaged Job Seekers
Mathematica is documenting strategies for increasing client engagement in federal- and state-defined work activities and highlights promising practices in TANF/WIA coordination.