Early Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Findings From Exploratory Site Visits and Review of Program Plans. Services Are Usually Decentralized, Even When a Single Program Model Is Adopted


WtW-funded services typically are being provided through multiple locations or offices, but this decentralization does not always imply diversity in program model or approach. Service delivery may be decentralized even when the grantee follows a single program model, but in some places decentralization is accompanied by a diverse array of program approaches.

Services may be decentralized either because the grantee relies on service delivery contracts, or because it operates its own network of programs in multiple locations. In most of the 22 sites in which exploratory visits were conducted, the PIC or competitive grantee subcontracts with service delivery providers  each of which, in turn, usually has its own program, as well as a network of other agencies with which it coordinates services for its participants. In Dallas, for example, the WDB has more than 20 WtW service delivery contractors. In other places, however, the grantee agency itself has established satellite offices or multiple offices where its own staff are located and provide direct services. For example, the United Way of Central Alabama, a competitive grantee in Birmingham, has established five neighborhood centers to serve WtW participants. The Human Resources Development Foundation in West Virginia, another competitive grantee, directly operates six hub offices that serve participants in a 29-county area.

Despite decentralization of their WtW services, some grantees have defined and are operating a single program model  a fairly standard set of services, policies and procedures, staff training, and objectives. Among the 22 sites visited, 12 operate a fairly consistent single-program model. United Way of Central Alabama, for example, has developed a model that focuses on intensive case management, job coaching, and job development that is followed by staff in the five neighborhood community centers. The Consortium for Worker Education (CWE) program, in New York City, has a more complex but still standardized program model involving centralized and decentralized services. Pre-employment preparation is conducted by two nonprofit subcontractors, followed by centrally operated child care preemployment workshops, after which participants are certified as family day care providers. Although the WtW participants operate their own home-based child care operation, they are affiliated as satellite providers with one of five different child care centers run by different agencies.

Almost as common, it appears, are grantees that have used their funds to support services that are not only physically decentralized but are also diverse in program design. In 10 of the 22 sites visited for this phase of the evaluation, formula or competitive grant funds (or in some cases both) are used to operate two or more separate WtW programs, operated by different agencies as subcontractors of the grantee. For example, Houston Works, a local SDA, contracts with seven different service providers  including specialized community-based organizations, training centers, and a community college  each operating its own separate WtW grant-funded program. In other sites, the grantee may be using WtW funds for one major program but also one or more smaller programs. For example, the Boston Office of Jobs and Community Services (JCS) uses nearly all its WtW formula grant for an Employer Partners Program, in which participants receive preemployment services at a partnering company, continue at the company as interns, and are then hired as regular employees if they complete their internship successfully. In addition, JCS operates a small Enhanced Community Service Program for WtW-eligible people who need more basic and structured work experience.

Thus, WtW grant-funded services are being delivered in a variety of ways. Services may be provided directly (in-house) by a grantee, or may be provided by staff of subcontractor organizations. Services provided directly by in-house grantee staff in one program may be contracted out in another program.