Coordination and Integration of Welfare and Workforce Development Systems. Logistical Barriers

03/20/2000

Geographical Issues

In several sites, coordinating agencies must contend with different geographical boundaries for their service areas. Some JTPA/WIA agencies, especially in rural areas, have large multi-county service areas and must work with several county welfare offices, each with its own local needs and personalities. For example, in Sedalia, Missouri the JTPA/WIA agency is serving TANF recipients from 13 different counties (an area that is 240 miles by 100 miles). In some communities physical barriers such as rivers and major highways, coupled with inadequate public transportation systems, preclude single service locations or impede coordination between agencies that are not in close proximity to each other.

Long-term leases and space limitations

Despite their willingness to co-locate, agencies may be reluctant to actually do so because of lease and other facility constraints. Many agencies either own their buildings or are committed to long term leases. In other cases, the space available for co-location may be too small to accommodate the needs of all potential partner agencies.

Confidentiality

Concern about preserving client confidentiality often hinders agencies' ability to work together to resolve client-specific issues. It also makes it difficult to either store information or access other agencies' management information systems that are needed to verify program eligibility or participation in work activities. Several sites have addressed this issue by allowing access, but restricting certain data fields based on each agency's "need-to-know."

Incompatible client forms and management information systems

Programs have developed forms and paperwork specific to their individual needs. Often, this paperwork, and the management information systems that were developed from it, is not compatible with the forms and systems used by partner agencies. Respondents told us that even when they try to have as much common paperwork as possible, federal and state reporting requirements still vary considerably by agency.

Union rules and civil service regulations

Differing rules and personnel systems create barriers to integration between different government agencies and private organizations. Unions may object to integration of staff between agencies due to fears of job loss and problems resulting from workers being paid at different wage rates even though they are sitting next to each other and doing essentially the same work.