Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Interdisciplinary Studies

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Chair

David A. Strobel

Committee Co-chair

Udo Fluck

Commitee Members

Rodney Brod, Bambi Douma, Art Lusse


barriers, cycling, employment retention, TANF, welfare reform


University of Montana


This study examined the issues of barriers and employment retention in a rural county welfare-to-work setting, the Missoula, Montana WoRC Program. Qualitative research (study one) was conducted, to interview clients regarding reasons why they had lost jobs in the past, and, to elicit their suggestions regarding new services the WoRC Program could offer to help with employment retention at future jobs. Study one results indicated that the primary barriers resulting in job loss were: family issues; medical problems; mental health disorders; work site difficulties; and other (i.e. boredom, attitude problems). Work adjustment proved to be an underlying barrier to employment retention. Study one results demonstrated that the clients wanted three primary services to help resolve barriers and improve job retention: life skills classes teaching work adjustment; job coaching; and post-TANF supportive services (i.e. clothing and gas vouchers). Quantitative research (study two) was conducted to analyze 90 variables via logistic regression and determine whether or not the WoRC Program assisted clients with gaining employment, and if so, what the characteristics of those clients were. The results of the logistic regression indicated that the WoRC Program helped clients gain employment exactly 50% of the time. Statistically significant variables for clients that gained employment were: study one participant; female; on TANF 4+ months; final status (case closed at time of study); merit (not sanctioned); no short term training months; no learning disability; no domestic violence; and no chemical dependency. Linear regression was utilized to determine whether or not the employment WoRC clients gained paid better than the minimum wage. The results of the linear regression demonstrated that the mean wage for the employed study two clients was $7.16/hr. The Federal minimum wage at the time of the study was $5.15/hr. To place this study in context, the literature review traced the development of the welfare system from ancient times to the present day, with special emphasis on the topics of cycling, barriers and retention, as well as intangible factors that may have contributed to the study results.



© Copyright 2007 Deborah Evelyn Holland