Early Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Report to Congress. C.   THE POPULATION TO BE SERVED AND HOW THEY WILL BE RECRUITED

The WtW initiative was created so that states and localities could focus special resources on helping the most disadvantaged recipients of public assistance succeed in the labor market.В  The BBA requires that at least 70 percent of all (formula and competitive) grant funds be spent on individuals with a specifically defined combination of employment barriers.В  They may be TANF recipients themselves who (1) have been receiving TANF or AFDC for 30 or more months, or are within 12 months of reaching a TANF time limit; and (2) face two of the three specified barriers to employment: lack of a high school diploma or GED certificate and low reading or math skills; substance abuse problems; and a poor work history.В  Alternatively, they may be noncustodial parents who face two of the same three barriers and have children who are in a longВ­term TANF case.В  Up to 30 percent of the funds may be spent on other TANF recipients or noncustodial parents who have characteristics associated with longВ­term welfare dependence, such as school dropout, teen pregnancy, or poor work history.В  Grantees may, however, exercise some discretion and focus their efforts on particular subgroups within these categories, as long as the overall use of WtW funds meets the 70/30 percent criteria.

Most WtW grantees have experience working with lowВ­income disadvantaged Americans, although, in many cases, their experience may not have focused heavily on the hardest to serve who make up the WtW target population.В  The JTPA Title IIA services that PICs provide are explicitly designed for a disadvantaged population, and at least some of the people served by most PICs in Title IIA programs have been welfare recipients.1В  Moreover, many PICs have been contracted by welfare agencies to run TANF work programs.В  However, the welfare recipients many PICs have served in the past have often had to meet minimum criteria for entry to training programs.В  It is thus likely that many grantees will face new challenges in their efforts to place the WtW population in employment activities and help them retain their jobs.2

One challenge grantees face, therefore, is to identify, seek out, and enroll participants who meet the eligibility criteria and who present the range of problems the grantees feel they can address successfully, given their experience and the resources they can use.В  The early survey data, as well as other currently available information, can help document:

  • Whether and how grantees plan to focus their efforts on defined subgroups of the eligible population
  • How grantees expect to identify and recruit participants
  • The demographic characteristics of projected participants, given grantees' location, traditional clientele, and recruiting approaches