States and localities have new levels of financial resources available to fund services for welfare recipients and other needy families. There are a number of funding streams within each community that can be used to move individuals from welfare to work including TANF, WtW, JTPA/WIA, and ES. Of these, TANF block grants and WtW grants provide increased funding and flexibility for a wide range of employment-related services for the TANF population. With declining welfare caseloads, less money is needed for cash assistance, but the TANF block grant amounts are fixed. Thus, welfare agencies have more funds available for work-related services. WtW grants provide a new source of funds to meet the often intensive needs of the least-employable portion of the welfare population. In addition to the availability of TANF and WtW funding, the good economy in many places has resulted in increased local resources from tax revenues.
Availability of resources extends services to more clients, provides funding flexibility, encourages coordinated planning, facilitates co-location and one-stop implementation, and stimulates the addition of new services. For example, there is no limit on the length of time an individual can be served under WtW, and the welfare agency can use block grant funds to provide a variety of supportive services, including child care, transportation, uniforms, and other job-related expenses. Welfare and workforce development providers can partner to fund services, such as child care and transportation, that may facilitate an individual's success while enrolled in an employment and training program, and to provide ongoing follow-up and retention services after an individual obtains employment.
- In Sedalia, the provision of supportive services is shared by the welfare agency and the workforce development agency's community-based organization subcontractors, using workforce development funds when TANF dollar limits are reached.
- In Manning, child care and transportation arrangements are jointly coordinated by WtW and welfare staff. If the welfare program cannot fund the child care and transportation services needed by a client, WtW assumes the cost.
With greater financial resources, agencies are more willing to share resources and to come together for planning purposes. WtW represented a new source of funding which, in some sites, provided an incentive for joint planning.
- In Kansas City, a special committee of the county's community partnership for human services deals with welfare-to-work efforts. One of their goals is to assure that WtW grant funds are used to fill identified service needs or gaps and not duplicate existing efforts.
- In Charleston, both the welfare agency and ES were active partners with the JTPA/WIA agency in the development of the WtW program. They reviewed contractors' proposals in conjunction with the JTPA/WIA agency, and have remained involved in the WtW program.
The availability of resources has helped to support the creation of one-stop service centers or has led to the co-location of services in several of the sites visited. With increased funding, some agencies are more likely to enter into arrangements that provide space, equipment or staff services to another agency at a lower cost, which encourages coordination.
- In Dayton, the one-stop career center was created in a refurbished warehouse. The county commissioners made a strong commitment to the project putting up a total of $1 million per year in local funds to help support start-up and ongoing operations of the Center. In addition, each of the 47 co-located agencies has contributed funds to the operations.
- The welfare agency in Salem provides space and equipment within the TANF office to partner agencies at no cost. This has encouraged partners who might otherwise have been resistant, to co-locate and to coordinate services with the welfare agency.
Available funding, coupled with federal incentives, is stimulating new services such as post-employment support, job retention, and advancement services. TANF provides strong incentives for welfare recipients to find immediate work, but the five-year limit on cash assistance also creates an incentive for building the basic education and occupational skills of welfare recipients so that they can transition to higher-skilled and higher paying jobs along a career path. WtW funds can be used for training or education once a person has begun work, either as a post-employment service in conjunction with work or as a work-based activity. In response, some welfare agencies are initiating post-employment training and retention services and promoting coordination with WtW programs to provide additional training opportunities and workplace support.
- In Providence, the welfare agency developed a job retention unit which markets the earned income tax credit (EITC), child health insurance, and child care benefits to employers and individuals. The job retention unit works directly with employees at work sites and is also working with certain employers to develop career ladders.
- The welfare agency in Salem is in the process of establishing a transition unit to continue working with TANF clients for the first 30 days of employment. They anticipate increasing this transition period to three months once the service is established.