Early Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Report to Congress. D.   THE SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES GRANTEES PROVIDE

WtW programs are distinct from the TANF work program and traditional employment and training programs in that they emphasize both rapid movement into employment and subsequent advancement toward stable employment at selfВ­sufficiency wages.В  WtW programs' emphasis on job advancement after early job preparation and placement was absent in at least the early stages of many TANF work programs, especially those with a "work first" focus.В  On the other hand, WtW programs differ from traditional employment and training programs because they have such a strong employment first philosophy, rather than emphasizing education or training and then work.

The BBA and the implementing DOL regulations stress "employmentВ­based developmental steps for helping individuals secure and retain unsubsidized employment."1В  The BBA, in Section 403(a)(5)(C)(i), restricts activities that can be supported by WtW funds to those that help move eligible individuals into jobs through (1) job creation using publicВ­ or privateВ­sector wage subsidies; (2) onВ­theВ­job training; (3) contracts with public or private providers of job readiness, job placement, and postemployment services (including basic education, occupational training, and mentoring); (4) job vouchers for similar services; (5) community service or work experience; or (6) job retention or supportive services, if such services are not otherwise available.В  Training or education can be provided with WtW funds only after a participant has begun employment or a comparable workВ­based activity.В  Congress did not define allowable activities further, instead allowing maximum flexibility for states and localities to design their programs.

The legislative specification of allowable activities suggests that grantees will be pursuing broadly similar strategies, despite the leeway they have to emphasize local concerns and set priorities.В  The first grantee survey provides information on two general issues about the services and participant activities that grantee organizations are or will be providing with federal WtW funds:

  • The relative emphasis of WtW programs on basic employment, retention, and supportive services
  • The degree to which grantees are emphasizing efforts to place WtW participants in supported work activities as opposed to regular unsubsidized jobs

Grantees' reported service priorities and budgetary allocations in large part reflect the thrust of the WtW legislation.В  Grantees' plans and resource use emphasize rapid preparation for and entry to employment.В  Their responses to the survey also demonstrate their recognition of the special supports participants are likely to need to succeed and advance.