The Annie E. Casey Foundation developed the Centers for Working Families ® (CWF) concept as a response to the challenges facing such low-income working adults and their families. Built on years of experience in the field, the CWF approach acknowledges the problems faced by low-income families who must navigate a fragmented system to obtain critically needed work-supporting services and benefits.
Among the many organizations participating in the national CWF learning nettwork, which brings together a range of groups interested in such programs, three in particular were identified early on as having fully implemented the CWF principles and showing promising results. This report provides insights into how these three organizations have adopted the CWF approach in response to different local circumstances and opportunities and offers a picture of what fully developed CWF’s look like. The three organizations are:
• The MET Center in St. Louis, a regional workforce training program with a wide variety of clients, partners and public-sector funding streams. It demonstrates integration of the CWF approach within a large, complicated workforce development organization.
• The Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation, a smaller, community-based program in West Baltimore, and an example of how the CWF concept can be integrated into a community initiative already providing some CWF-related services.
• Central New Mexico Community College, a large regional college mostly serving low-income working adults. It demonstrates how the CWF approach can be incorporated into a college setting serving students striving to get ahead but facing many hurdles.
The three organizations have also been selected to be part of an independent evaluation of CWF by Abt Associates that began in 2007. This report summarizes early findings from the three sites, reviews how the three sites have implemented the CWF concept, outlines key principles guiding CWF sites, provides an overview of program costs, and offers suggestions to organizations interested in improving their CWF programs or adopting the approach. This report is designed largely to give leaders of different types of organizations and institutions information that can help them decide if it makes sense for their organizations to embrace the CWF framework. The report can help such organizations consider how the CWF framework could be constructed, and it provides new programswith the benefit of lessons learned from the three sites.