Coordination and Integration of Welfare and Workforce Development Systems. State Initiatives

03/20/2000

Some states have taken a pro-active role in improving state-level coordination and in encouraging local coordination. States have promoted coordination through state-level organizational decisions, contracting processes, and initiatives specifically directed towards local level collaboration.

State level organizational decisions include reorganizations of state-level agencies and organizational mandates that more directly affect local operations, such as requiring local welfare agencies to have referral agreements with community colleges or JTPA/WIA agencies. Such reorganizations may be helpful in avoiding conflicting policies across programs, minimizing duplication, and sending a message to local agencies of the importance of coordination.

  • In South Carolina, welfare reform legislation requires coordination with the technical college system. The authorizing legislation requires that the welfare agency, in conjunction with the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, design curricula that "target and train" TANF recipients for "top growth occupations" as identified by the state ES.
  • In Ohio, there are challenges to coordination between the county-administered TANF program and the state-administered ES agency. At the time of our site visits, discussions were underway at the state level for a proposed merger of the two agencies.(5)

In addition to coordination among state-level agencies, several states have also made decisions about the delivery of programs at the local level. The contracting process is one approach used to implement those decisions and stimulate coordination at the local level.

  • In Pennsylvania, The Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Program, developed in 1987, was the result of a state-level decision to operate the JOBS program through the JTPA system. The state contracted directly with local JTPA agencies to provide services. With welfare reform, the state welfare agency has developed at least a dozen work-related programs that are available to welfare participants. A number of these programs are operated under statewide contracts to employment and training providers.
  • In Oregon, the state used the contracting mechanism to bring together the welfare agency, JTPA providers, and community colleges to deliver coordinated employment and training services to welfare recipients when JOBS was first implemented. In fact, under the Family Support Act/JOBS authorizing legislation, the welfare agency was prohibited from administering employment and training services, and thus the existing education, employment and training systems were guaranteed a strong role in providing work-related services to welfare recipients.

A few states have taken additional steps to promote local level coordination, by mandating some type of local interagency coordinating council. While we learned that some of these efforts met resistance at first, consistent support from the state over a period of time helped agencies to overcome differences

  • In Pennsylvania, the state mandated Local Management Committees (LMCs) to coordinate the SPOC Program. Representatives from JTPA/WIA agencies, welfare offices, ES, and local education agencies serve on the LMCs. In Pittsburgh, the LMC meets monthly and administers the state-level contract with the local JTPA/WIA agency. In Beaver County, the LMC evaluates proposals and selects contractors for programs.
  • In Missouri, a state initiative, Caring Communities, has been instrumental in encouraging and funding local community partnerships. Caring Communities is a collaborative effort of Missouri's Departments of Education, Health, Mental Health, Social Services, Labor, Economic Development, and Corrections, which supports local efforts to have strong families and communities. The Local Investment Commission (LINC) in Kansas City and the Pettis County Community Partnership in Sedalia are the local partnerships operating under this initiative in Missouri. Both groups have been active in local welfare reform and welfare-to-work initiatives.

In summary, a strong economy, technological advances, greater financial resources, and state initiatives are key factors that promote coordination. Examples presented highlight some of the responses found in the sites we visited. We also learned of many other initiatives still in the planning stages and of continuing challenges to coordination.

 

Footnotes

4.  See Burbridge and Nightingale, 1989 for a discussion of organizational relationships in the WIN program and the JOBS program. 

5.  On December 14, 1999 the Governor of Ohio signed a bill merging the Ohio Department of Human Services and the Ohio Bureau of Employment Security to create the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.