Coordination and Integration of Welfare and Workforce Development Systems. Study Objectives, Scope, and Methods


The purpose of this study is to provide a current "snapshot" of coordination between the welfare and workforce development systems in the context of welfare reform and the stronger welfare focus on employment. Site visits examined the interaction between welfare and workforce development programs from the perspective of services receipt for the TANF client. The following understandings about service coordination guided our data collection and analysis:

  • Some degree of coordination or integration exists between the welfare and workforce development systems.
  • Coordination and integration improve service for the TANF client.
  • Agencies pursue coordination or integration because, in addition to improved service for their clients, there are potential benefits for their organizations.
  • Coordination and integration are influenced by:
  • Policy changes,
  • Past relationships, and
  • Environmental factors, such as the economy and demographics.
  • Agencies face challenges to coordination and integration including organizational, philosophical, and logistical barriers.

Sites selected represented a range of organizational structures, historical experiences, and economic and demographic variables, but were not selected randomly and do not provide a nationally representative sample. Site selection criteria included the proportion of welfare clients served by the JTPA system, the current state structure of the JTPA and welfare systems, urban/rural setting, and economic conditions. This approach contrasts with studies that focus on "best practice" sites.

Site visits were conducted between May and August 1999 to:

  • Missouri: Kansas City and Sedalia
  • Ohio: Cleveland, Dayton, and Painesville
  • Oregon: Portland and Salem
  • Pennsylvania: Beaver County and Pittsburgh
  • Rhode Island: Providence
  • South Carolina: Charleston and Manning

Site visits were conducted over a two day period. Discussions were held with about 10 to 12 respondents from local TANF agencies and workforce development agencies, including the ES, JTPA providers (and administering agencies), and WtW providers, with discussions tailored to the situation in each site. Agency directors, supervisors, and service delivery staff were included in the discussions. (Additional information about site selection, the study sites, and data collection methods can be found in Appendix B.)

This study primarily addresses local operational interactions between the TANF program and the main workforce development programs, within the context of state policy, by closely examining local service delivery. Two important limitations of the study should be noted. First, our observations and findings are based on only 12 site visits. While some broader conclusions are warranted based on similar findings across several sites and additional documentation in the literature, the study results are not nationally representative. Second, this study did not collect information directly from clients. Thus, the descriptions of client flow and service receipt are developed from discussions with service providers and administrators.