Paid Transitional Jobs Expansion Initiative:
Establishing JTP Positions in Multiple City Agencies
The Paid Transitional Job Expansion Initiative would allocate $33.6 million in the Human Resources
Administration’s budget in order to add 3,500 additional paid transitional job positions into eight
additional city agencies and extend the positions from six months to one year.
In March of 2001, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) set up the Parks Opportunity Program
(POP) in response to the passage of the Transitional Jobs Program (Local Law Number 14) by the City
Council and strong organizing efforts by Community Voices Heard, District Council 37, and the Ad Hoc
Coalition for Real Jobs. The program was designed to assist welfare recipients in their transition from
welfare to work – providing them with paid job experience coupled with education and training so as to
prepare them more adequately for the unsubsidized job market. It represented a significant shift away from
forcing welfare recipients to perform unpaid workforce assignments (known as WEP) toward paying people
a way for working in city agencies on a transitional basis.
In March of 2004, Community Voices Heard released a report, Wages Work! An Examination of New York
City’s Parks Opportunity Program (POP) and Its Participants, to delve deeper into the experiences of the
POP workers. The report uncovered a variety of lessons:
Wages are an Important Component in Motivating Welfare Recipients to Move off of Welfare.
Survey respondents specifically pointed to certain program aspects that changed the way they felt
about work and their desire to gain long-term employment. Of those surveyed, 97.6% said that
earning a paycheck made the difference. Of those that completed the program, 98% said they would
have liked to keep working in a full-time job.
Parks Opportunity Program Workers Did Real Work Needed for the City. POP workers maintained
the City’s 1700 parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities by cleaning and landscaping the
parks, repairing facilities, staffing recreation centers, assisting with office administration, providing
security at facilities and events, and more.
The Parks Opportunity Program Improved the Lives of Most Welfare Recipients Participating in
the Program. At a way of $9.38/hour, a POP worker earned $19,510/year ($20,506 with Food
Stamps and the EITC) as opposed to less than $9,000/year for a family on welfare (with Food
Stamps). Of those surveyed, 92.9% felt their quality of life had improved in POP. Responses point to
people’s increased self-esteem, economic security, and positive family spillover effects.
The Parks Opportunity Program Prepared People for Work Better than Unpaid Workfare/WEP.
Of POP workers surveyed, 70.7% responded that they had learned new skills on the job in contrast to
a low 39.2% who said they had gained skills while participating in the Work Experience Program
When the program began in 2001, workers held different union titles such as City Seasonal Aide (CSA),
City Parks Worker (CPW), and Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) and earned between $9.38 and $12.50 per
hour depending on their title. Starting in 2003, the positions were all collapsed into the title of Job Training
Participant (JTP), the wage was dropped (it went down to $7.50/hour), and their union status was taken
away until DC37 won back representation in 2006 (subsequently, as of 2/1/07 the wage will reflect union
won adjustments - about $8.58/hour). Nearly 20,000 workers have been through the program since its
inception, with over 4,000 participating each year (each worker in a six-month cycle) at a cost of about $40
Despite the reduction of both the wage and the program length, the Parks Department has done a
commendable job of improving the program yearly – fine-tuning the employment skills component of the
program, expanding the education and training options available to workers, getting more and more
participants access to training vouchers and increasing the number of post-program job placements, and
creating a yearlong program for a select subset of 18-20 year-old participants.1 Most importantly, the
program continues to be a positive alternative to WEP.2 However, more needs to be done. Limiting JTP
placements to one city agency limits both the type of job experience participants are able to receive and the
prospects for full-time unsubsidized work that they have upon completion.
The Paid Transitional Jobs Expansion Initiative would build on the success of the existing Parks
Opportunity Program (POP). It would invest $33.6 million dollars in the HRA budget in order to:
1. Increase the Number of Positions Available: As of January 2007, there were 193,748 public
assistance cases in NYC. Over 12,000 individuals were participating in the unpaid, dead-end Work
Experience Program (WEP) while only 2,500 people at any moment have access to a paid transitional
position, despite their proven effectiveness over WEP. This initiative would set a goal of doubling
the number of participants at any given moment.
2. Expand into New Agencies: Currently the JTP program is operated only in the Parks Department.
This initiative would focus on moving the program into the additional city agencies such as:
Department of Sanitation (DOS), Department of Education (DOE), the Health and Hospitals
Corporation (HHC), NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA), Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP), Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), the Human Resources
Administration (HRA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Approximately 500 JTP
positions per agency would be the recommended amount. Agencies where unpaid WEP positions
currently exist – and could be transformed into JTP slots - should be a priority.
3. Lengthen the Program to a Full-Year: An ideal program would give participants 3 months to
settle into their employment and do job readiness activities, then provide them with 6 months to
couple their employment with education and training, and finally offer 3 months at the end wherein
job search can be conducted while the individual is still receiving a paycheck. Under special
circumstances (for instance, if completion of educational advancement goals requires more time) an
additional 6 months should be allowed.
4. Improve Access to Education and Training Options: Participants would be encouraged to
take advantage of the option to pursue education and training while in the program. Participants in
paid transitional jobs programs would be immediately told about their education and training options
upon entering the program, and would be enrolled in programs no later than one-third of their way
into the program. Partnerships would be established with both CUNY and DC37 so as to provide
more options to participants.
5. Develop Career Ladder Pathways within City Agencies: The JTP position would be seen as
the first-rung on a ladder to career advancement. Specific career pathways would be mapped out for
individuals to provide a clear sense of what it takes – in terms of experience, time, and additional
educational certifications – to climb from one rung of the ladder to the next. Priority for non-
competitive city positions would be given to those completing the JTP program and supports would
be provided for workers to take the Civil Service exams and be placed on employee lists for
The Department of Parks & Recreation recently created a sub-program of POP called YES (Youth Engagement Services) for 18-20 year old
public assistance recipients that emphasizes intensive counseling, educational and life skills in addition to traditional job training and
development goals. This program works with participants for a year but serves a limited number of individuals and only a narrow age range.
Community Voices Heard released a monitoring report in March of 2006 looking at changes in the program and the experiences of the Job
Training Participant (JTP) workers.
6. Collaborate with DSBS on Private Sector Placement: In addition to more concrete
connections to long-term public sector employment, the initiative would coordinate with the
Department of Small Business Services (DSBS) to facilitate enhanced private sector placement.
Information regarding growth industries and experience necessary to meet workforce demands will be
provided by DSBS so that preparation may be focused accordingly and connections to private sector
employment can better be established.
The Paid Transitional Jobs Expansion Initiative would address a number of pertinent issues that have
surfaced in programs and the political context to date:
Federal Work Requirements: Participation in a paid transitional job can satisfy the work
requirements set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in their newly issued
regulatory definitions. The model can be used to help meet the stricter participation rates and avoid
Community Needs: With JTP positions established in a variety of city agencies, the city
workforce would be augmented allowing agencies to better meet community needs: in clinics,
hospitals, childcare facilities, schools, parks, etc.
Demand Driven Workforce Preparation: Certain sectors – like educational & health services –
are in desperate need of new workers. Expanding the JTP title across agencies would allow for more
targeted preparation of workers for current and emerging city needs.
Interest Matching: Making transitional jobs available across a number of different public agencies
and encompassing a number of different types of occupations and pathways (clerical, healthcare,
childcare, maintenance, etc.) would better meet the diverse interests and backgrounds of participants.
Job Placement: Diversifying the types of job experience that JTP workers gain will ultimately
contribute to expanded unsubsidized job prospects for participants upon program completion. It is
much easier to get a job in a field within which you have concrete job experience and exposure.
Social & Economic Justice: The unpaid Work Experience Program (WEP) represents a public
sector sweatshop economy in New York City. Welfare recipients are required to do the same work as
their paid counterparts with no pay, no pay-in to Social Security, and no access to the EITC.
Transforming the program into paid transitional jobs would contribute to social and economic justice.
The Paid Transitional Jobs Expansion Initiative has the following objectives:
1. Provide welfare recipients with paid job experience in place of unpaid WEP.
2. Stabilize participants’ financial circumstances to facilitate advancement.
3. Connect participants to education and training options that will enhance their skill set.
4. Raise participants’ motivation to look for paid work over welfare receipt.
5. Establish clearer career pathways and connections to them.
6. Move program participants into unsubsidized job placements.
Target Agencies and Career / Occupation Options:
The Paid Transitional Jobs Expansion Initiative would start by expanding the JTP title into a variety of city
agencies, including the following:
Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS)
Department of Education (DOE)
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Department of Sanitation (DOS)
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC)
Human Resources Administration (HRA)
NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA)
The goal would be to create approximately 400-500 JTP positions in each agency, a number that is
manageable from a supervisory standpoint and that matches the average attrition turnover in the agencies –
thereby allowing for stronger possibilities for movement into permanent positions within the agencies.
Career pathway options within the agencies would include, but not be limited to, the following occupational
Nursing / Allied Health
Clerical / Administration
One could imagine, for instance, an individual starting out as a JTP in the Health and Hospitals Corporation,
moving into a Nursing Assistant position upon program completion, working on acquiring a technical
certificate to become a Practical Nurse, and then climbing up into the position of Registered Nurse after
additional education/training. Or, one might start as a JTP in the schools and move one’s way up to
paraprofessional and ultimately a teacher. Perhaps one starts as a JTP doing office work in a city agency
and moves up over time to be an Administrative Assistant and ultimately an office manager. The
possibilities are endless. The JTP position would function as the starting point on the rung of the ladder,
offering a participant the opportunity to get a taste for the career option in the appropriate setting and to get
entry-level experience, and linkages to appropriate education and training, so as to be able to begin the
climb up the ladder.
Proposed Program Set-Up:
The Human Resources Administration (HRA) currently jointly administers the Parks Opportunity Program
(POP) with the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Federal welfare block grant funds, from the
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, are provided to New York State and then
disbursed to the City for welfare cash assistance and programming. Participants in the JTP program are paid
a wage via a grant diversion process, whereby their cash assistance is sent to DPR for conversion into a
paycheck rather than a welfare check.
This same process could be utilized in the JTP program expansion. City agencies, in consultation with
District Council 37 and other pertinent unions, would determine where JTP titles were appropriate. HRA
would then contract with the appropriate city agencies to establish a program similarly to how such an
arrangement currently exists with the Parks Department. In POP, the Department of Parks and Recreation
operates three different components of the program: (1) job experience, (2) access to education and training,
and (3) job counseling and placement services. While DPR sends some people outside to education and
training, all other services are provided internally. This may or may not be appropriate to other city
An ideal set-up would be to have the host city agency address the on-the-job supervisory needs of the
participants and then have workers sent externally (to either District Council 37, other unions training
centers, to the Workforce1 Career Centers, or to CUNY or the network of community-based employment
services providers) for the job readiness / job search component of the program and assistance in accessing
education and training vouchers and services.
Projected Costs and Benefits to New York City:
Expansion of the Transitional Jobs Program would require $33.6 million in additional funds from New York
City. However, this expansion would also leverage additional federal and state dollars in the form of federal
and state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) dollars paid to the program’s participants. The additional
wages and EITC dollars will then spill over into the local economy as low-income New Yorkers have more
money to spend. While the net cost to New York City for adding 3,500 paid transitional job positions for 12
months at $8.49 per hour would be $33,579,203, the federal government would contribute an additional
$6,689,363 and New York State an additional $4,764,016 through increases in eligibility among participants
for the EITC. Each family in the program would earn an average of $17,659 in annual wages and $7,749
through Food Stamps and the Federal/ State/ City EITCs (see attached spreadsheet for additional
information on the impact the initiative will have on low-income families and public finances).
For More Information:
For more information on this Initiative, contact Sondra Youdelman, Executive Director of Community
Voices Heard, at 212-860-6001 x 108 or Anita Graham, Welfare/ Workforce Organizer at x 114.
For additional background on the Parks Opportunity Program (POP), including a report released on the first
cohort in the program back in March 2004 and a more recent monitoring memo released in March 2006,
contact Community Voices Heard at the number above or visit the Community Voices Heard website at:
For more information regarding TJ programs and the new TANF rules, contact Abbey Frank, of the Center
for Law and Social Policy, at (202) 906-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about TJ
programs in general visit the National Transitional Jobs Network website at www.transitionaljobs.net, or
contact Melissa Young of the National Transitional Jobs Network, at (773) 728-5960 or