Does Coaching Help Hard-to-Employ TANF Clients and Other Low-Income Populations Find and Keep Jobs?

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


Research has shown that poverty and other chronic stressors can hinder the development and full use of the skills needed to set, pursue, and achieve personal goals, including finding and maintaining employment. For this reason, living in poverty might derail people’s pursuit of self-sufficiency. Coaching—in which trained staff members work with clients to set individualized goals and provide support and feedback as they pursue those goals—has drawn increasing interest as a way to help low-income people realize career and family goals.

To learn more about the potential of coaching to help Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income people reach their goals of self-sufficiency, the research team is conducting an evaluation of up to three coaching-focused interventions targeting job entry and retention. This information will allow other organizations to replicate and enhance the most effective aspects of coaching.

The evaluation will use random assignment to examine the impact of the coaching on outcomes such as success in obtaining and retaining employment, career advancement, earnings, receipt of TANF and other measures of self-sufficiency, as well as indicators of personal and family well-being. These outcomes will be measured by surveys of study participants and administrative records. The evaluation will include a comprehensive study of the design and implementation of the coaching interventions. Abt Associates is a subcontractor.