Developing Community Service Career Ladder Programs to Support Welfare-to-Work

An Effective Practice

This practice has been Archived and is no longer maintained.


In collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Human Services and the Providence School Department, the Parents Making a Difference welfare-to-work program enrolls participants as education award-only AmeriCorps members enabling them to continue receiving public assistance benefits. The Parents Making a Difference experience serves as training for jobs as educational aides and assistants in the Providence School Department, helping to meet a pressing demand for experienced, multicultural paraprofessionals. Recommendations and models are provided for establishing welfare-to-paraprofessional and paraprofessional-to-career training programs.

Goal / Mission

A core objective of the career ladder model is to ensure that low-income participants progress beyond the paraprofessional level. The goal is to aid welfare recipients to move from welfare to the paraprofessional level, then on to a career.

Results / Accomplishments

The program has had the following positive outcomes:
-The Providence School System guaranteed employment to any graduate of Parents Making A Difference who completed a year of successful service.
-As a result of hiring participants of career ladder programs, many school systems are able to increase the ethnic diversity of their teaching staff. In 1998 only 13 percent of teachers nationwide were people of color while nearly one-third of their students were. The discrepancy in urban areas was even more pronounced.
-By showing the determination to progress from reliance on government-subsidies to self-sufficiency, participants of career ladder programs serve as community role models. As such they help reinforce community-school relationships.
-In reviewing the first 18 months of the Parents Making a Difference program, it was revealed that 57 percent of those who entered the program and stayed for more than 30 days were then able to secure paid employment.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Wanda Levy, Project Director
Parents Making A Difference
797 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 453-8614
Economy / Poverty
Education / Vocational & Adult Education
Parents Making A Difference
Corporation for National and Community Service
Date of publication
Rhode Island
Target Audience
Racial/Ethnic Minorities