Coordination and Integration of Welfare and Workforce Development Systems. Introduction


The policy context for both welfare programs and employment and training programs operated by the workforce development system has changed dramatically in the past few years. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 requires welfare agencies to focus more than in the past on moving welfare recipients into employment. PRWORA provides funding to welfare agencies in the form of a block grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to support efforts to achieve this objective. The need to move more TANF clients into work activities and jobs means that TANF agencies need to expand or develop structural and organizational arrangements that make this possible, including coordinating with the workforce development system.

The Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Grants Program provides additional funding to serve welfare recipients, but the resources flow through the employment and training system, now commonly called the workforce development system. WtW creates new incentives for the workforce development system to coordinate with the welfare system on behalf of welfare recipients. The workforce development system is also changing, moving towards universal access to employment related services and the use of technology to serve job seekers and employers better.

States and localities are responding to this dynamic environment in different ways, and their responses reflect historical relationships as well as current policy objectives. This study builds on earlier research in the area of service coordination and integration, and provides a current description of local operational interaction between welfare and workforce development programs. It is based on a review of the literature and site visits to twelve localities in six states. The main intent is to add to the understanding about how welfare recipients receive employment-related services. The study identifies different approaches to coordination, the advantages of coordination for clients, and factors that promote or impede coordination.