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Faith, Hope, and Jobs

Welfare-to-Work in Los Angeles

A front-burner issue on the public policy agenda today is the increased use of partnerships between government and nongovernmental entities, including faith-based social service organizations. In the wake of President Bush's faith-based initiative, many are still wondering about the effectiveness of these faith-based organizations in providing services to those in need, and whether they provide better outcomes than more traditional government, secular nonprofit, and for-profit organizations. In Faith, Hope, and Jobs, Stephen V. Monsma and J. Christopher Soper study the effectiveness of 17 different welfare-to-work programs in Los Angeles County—a county in which the U.S. government spends 14% of its entire welfare budget—and offer groundbreaking insight into understanding what works and what doesn't.

Monsma and Soper examine client assessment of the programs, their progress in developing attitudes and resources important for finding self-supporting employment, and their experience in finding actual employment. The study reveals that the clients of the more explicitly faith-based programs did best in gaining in social capital and were highly positive in evaluating the religious components of their programs. For-profit programs tended to do the best in terms of their clients finding employment. Overall, the religiously active respondents tended to experience better outcomes than those who were not religiously active but surprisingly, the religiously active and non-active tended to do equally well in faith-based programs.

Faith, Hope, and Jobs concludes with three sets of concrete recommendations for public policymakers, social service program managers, and researchers.

About the Author

Stephen V. Monsma is a research fellow at the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, Calvin College. He is a professor of political science emeritus at Pepperdine University, where he was on the political science faculty from 1987 to 2004 and held the Blanche E. Seaver chair in social science. He has published widely including Putting Faith in Partnerships: Welfare-to-Work in Four Cities and Equal Treatment of Religion in a Pluralistic Society (coedited with J. Christopher Soper).

J. Christopher Soper is the Frank R. Seaver Professor of Political Science and the executive director for the Center for Faith and Learning at Pepperdine University. Soper's most recent publications are Equal Treatment of Religion in a Pluralistic Society (coedited with Stephen V. Monsma) and Muslims and the State in Britain, France, and Germany (coauthored with Joel Fetzer).

Reviews

"Provides valuable resources for studies of the effectiveness of faith-based programs. it also provides useful advice for policy-makers concerning how to improve the effectiveness of welfare-to-work programs. Scholars of public policy and scholars of religion and politics will both benefit from the ground-breaking research presented in the book."—Politics and Religion

Endorsements

"A must-read for scholars, lay audiences, and anyone seriously concerned about contemporary social problems like employment in urban America. Monsma and Soper have produced a solid piece of research on a topic long-neglected by social scientists."—Byron Johnson, professor of sociology and director, Center for Religious Inquiry Across the Disciplines, Baylor University, and senior fellow, Religion and Civil Society Program, The Witherspoon Institute

"In this important book, Monsma and Soper offer a trenchant, empirically well-grounded analysis of the comparative effectiveness of the different types of faith-based and secular welfare-to-work programs. Their valuable book will be of broad interest to policymakers, scholars, and practitioners concerned with the future of social services and the role of faith-based organizations in helping people in need."—Steven Rathgeb Smith, professor of public affairs, University of Washington

Georgetown University Press
Religion and Politics

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