Early Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Findings From Exploratory Site Visits and Review of Program Plans. The Pace of Implementation and the Enrollment Levels in the First Year Were Modest


The combined effect of the various administrative and operational issues described above is that the pace of implementation in the WtW grants program has been slower than program planners and federal policy makers anticipated. As a result, cumulative enrollment in local WtW programs was still modest when the exploratory visits were conducted (between December 1998 and July 1999). The 22 grantees had, at the time of the exploratory visits, enrolled an average of 171 participants each, ranging from four programs with fewer than 50 participants to two programs with more than 500 participants. Only one grantee  NSP-Works, in New York  had reached its planned enrollment level on the timetable set forth in its original plan.

The exploratory visits were conducted at a time when most of the grantees were still in the early stages of program startup. In some cases, the start-up process proved more complicated than expected, and grantees had to extend their planning or pilot stage to refine methods for client outreach, case management and tracking procedures, and program reporting and administration. Several grantees' programs had only just begun to enroll participants at the time of the visit, and four were still preparing to enroll their first participants soon after the visit. Subsequent informal contacts with some grantees revealed that enrollments had begun to pick up by summer 1999. The programs that had not enrolled participants at the time of the visit had begun to do so by summer, and some of the programs that had slow enrollment during their initial months of operations have reported that the pace of enrollment has improved. In most of the 22 grantee sites, however, it remains to be seen whether original targets for program enrollment will be reached.