Early Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Report to Congress. Most Grantees Will Serve the Overall WtW Population Rather than Targeted Subgroups


The BBA gives grantees the latitude to focus their WtW services on subgroups of the eligible WtW population.  Grantees might choose to target subgroups for several reasons.  The low­income population in their local area might be facing one particularly severe problem, such as a very high incidence of drug abuse; the grantee might want to focus its outreach and services to deal with that problem (while still accepting individuals who had other problems).  Some grantees (particularly some non­PIC competitive grantees) might have more experience dealing with some types of problems than with others.  For example, a community­based organization (CBO) that has run GED programs might only accept individuals who lack a high school credential.

Targeting particular eligible subgroups can be done in several ways.  Some grantees (such as the CBO that runs GED programs) might focus their entire WtW­funded program on a defined subgroup.  Other grantees might use WtW funds for several programs; one program might seek out certain subgroups (such as noncustodial parents with substance abuse problems), while other programs would serve the overall population that is eligible for WtW services.

Most WtW grantees, however, appear to be preparing to serve the broadly defined population of all those eligible for WtW services.  When asked in the survey whether they would use a subset of the criteria set forth in the legislation to prioritize or focus first on eligible individuals with particular characteristics, more than half (56 percent) of grantee respondents answered affirmatively.  However, when asked specifically which of 10 possible criteria they would use, about a quarter of even those grantees indicated they would use most or all of the criteria in defining their target populations.3  As a result, about 57 percent of respondents overall indicated they were either not targeting at all or were using at least 8 of the 10 criteria (Table C.1).  Among grantees listing any targeting criteria, the most commonly named factors related to the 70 percent eligibility rules (Table C.2).  In general, however, we interpret the survey results as suggesting that most WtW programs are seeking to enroll individuals who are eligible under the rules, rather than focusing on individuals with particular characteristics within that overall eligible group.



  All Survey Respondents
(n = 414)
Grantees with
Formula Fundsa
(n = 387)
Grantees with
Competitive Funds
Only (n = 27)
Extent of Targeting Criteria Used Grantees (Percentages)
No Targeting or Broad Targeting 8 or more 56.8 58.4 33.3
Modest Targeting 5 to 7 24.6 23.5 40.8
Narrow Targeting 1 to 4 18.6 18.1 25.9
Source:  National Evaluation of the Welfare­to­Work Grants Program, First Grantee Survey (November 1998­February 1999).

a Includes all grantees with formula funding.  Of the 387 grantees, 17 also had competitive grants, 48 also had 15 percent discretionary funding, and 5 had both other types of funding.  The numbers of overall survey respondents and formula grant respondents are lower than in Table B.1 because of item non­response.

Some grantees, however, particularly among competitive grantees, are focusing their programs more narrowly.  About 19 percent of survey respondents identified four or fewer targeting criteria for their WtW programs (Table C.1).  In its competitive grant announcement, DOL specified that applicants were encouraged to propose service strategies for specific subgroups of the eligible population, as well as innovative service strategies.  Competitive grantees, at least those that did not receive formula funding, seem to have adopted more focused targeting approaches.4  Among the grantees that report more tightly defined targeting (using four or fewer criteria), the most common definitions used are noncustodial parents, and recipients of TANF nearing or past their time limit who lack a high school diploma or GED and also have low math or reading skills (Table C.2).  Even these targeting strategies reflect a focus on the major groups of eligible individuals defined under the BBA.



  Percent Using Specific Criterion
Eligibility Characteristics/Criteria Used As Percent of Grantees Using Any Targeting Criteriaa As Percent of Grantees Doing Narrow Targetingb
No high school diploma or GED and low math/reading skills 78.4 39.0
Poor work history 77.6 37.7
Substance abuse problems 64.2 23.4
Nearing or past TANF time limit 65.5 39.0
Long­term TANF/AFDC recipients 75.4 33.8
Teenage parents 31.0 7.8
Noncustodial parents 62.5 48.1
Public housing residents 24.1 10.4
People with disabilities 24.6 9.1
School dropouts 40.1 5.2
Source:  National Evaluation of the Welfare­to­Work Grants Program, First Grantee Survey (November 1998­February 1999).

a Percents are of grantees reporting that they will use eligibility criteria set forth in the WtW legislation to prioritize or focus on individuals with particular characteristics.  Such organizations represent 56 percent of grantee survey respondents.

b Percents are for the subset of grantee organizations that will rely on four or fewer of the WtW eligibility criteria; such organizations represent 19 percent of survey respondents.