Coordination and Integration of Welfare and Workforce Development Systems. The Workforce Development System and Welfare Recipients


Employment-related programs administered by the workforce development system have been involved to varying degrees in state welfare programs over the past three decades. The ES had joint responsibility, with state welfare agencies, for the Work Incentive (WIN) program (the pre-JOBS program for AFDC recipients) in the 1960s and 1970s. To this day, the ES continues in some states to have a major role in providing employment-related services to TANF recipients (e.g., job search and job placement), even though there is no formal nationwide role for the ES in TANF work programs. ES-provided welfare services have often been delivered from locations separate from the main ES offices, sometimes with ES staff co-located with welfare staff, or vice versa.

In the past decade, a variety of models for providing employment-related activities for AFDC recipients were developed by states and localities under the JOBS program. The JOBS program left decisions about how to structure JOBS services largely up to states, but did stipulate that states and localities make use of existing education, employment, and training services in the community. Therefore, while welfare agencies were the lead administrative entity for JOBS, they entered into any number of arrangements, both at the state and local level, to operate JOBS programs and services. While there has been no comprehensive survey on how JOBS employment services were delivered in all states, descriptive information shows that welfare agency staff in many states provided job search assistance and other employment services. But, in a number of states, welfare agencies contracted with the ES or JTPA to deliver these services. In some states, JOBS programs were integrated into one-stop career centers that often included ES, JTPA, education, and other services. Also, because the emphasis in JOBS was on education, many arrangements included community colleges and other education providers. TANF, with its emphasis on work-first, stimulated new or increased (depending on past arrangements) linkages with the workforce development system.

The WtW Grants Program, authorized under the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1997, creates new incentives for the workforce development system to coordinate with the welfare system on behalf of welfare recipients. The grants are to be used by states and localities to help the least employable welfare recipients and the non-custodial parents of recipient children move into jobs with potential for upward mobility.(2)  WtW grants complement TANF in that the WtW federal funds are to be used for work-related activities and not for cash welfare payments. WtW grants are administered through the JTPA system of local PICs, in coordination with state and local TANF agencies.

Nearly all WtW grantees expect to receive most of their participants through referrals from the TANF agency. And, in order to assist their participants effectively, staff in WtW programs must be knowledgeable about the state's welfare policies, programs, time limits, and work requirements. Similarly, TANF agencies are actively encouraging or requiring clients to work and/or participate in work programs, one of which can be WtW. Thus, more than in the past, each type of agency has a need to understand policies and programs of the other (Nightingale, et al.1999).