Public assistance workers' confidence in welfare-to-work programs and the clients they serve

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In this paper we examine public assistance worker confidence in welfare-to-work programs and welfare clients. In line with the expectancy model of motivation, we define confidence as the belief that worker effort will result in good and effective performance. Using survey responses from the entire front-line laborforce (N = 1, 159) in New Jersey's counties with the largest caseloads, we find that only about 25 percent of workers have high confidence in either program or clients. We also find that confidence is especially low among white males who have worked in ongoing income maintenance units for more than 14 years. Additionally, we present some suggestive evidence that links high confidence to higher client participation in employment-related activities. The implications of our research for identifying the sources of under-performance in the welfare-to-work workforce are discussed as are our suggestions for increasing workforce confidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-32
Number of pages26
JournalAdministration in Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Administration


  • Correspondence analysis
  • Expectancy theory
  • Public assistance workers
  • Worker confidence


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