Although scholarship on social assistance (or welfare) has proliferated over the years, there remains a dearth of literature on the Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) program for teenage parents. We followed two LEAP cohorts (Cohort One: 2003-8; Cohort Two: 2009-14) over five years to explore how many had stayed, shifted programs (e.g. to the disability program) or left social assistance entirely. Exit rates, while higher for Cohort One (51.3 per cent relative to 43 per cent for Cohort Two), were fairly low; roughly 10 per cent lower than those of the overall social assistance caseload. LEAP does not appear to vastly improve the employment prospects of a significant proportion of its participants over time. American researchers are proposing a shift in programming towards a two-generation approach, pairing early childhood education with parent human capital development, Ontario – who imported LEAP from its US counterparts from the beginning – should follow suit.
SOURCE: Smith-Carrier, T. Kerr, D. and Wang, J. “The Learning, Earning and Parenting (LEAP) Program of Ontario Works Two Decades On: A Descriptive Cohort Study.” Social Policy and Society, 17 March 2020.
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