The Evaluation of the Tribal Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Initial Implementation Findings. Examine Ways to Improve Coordination with Other Programs, Especially TANF


In designing and implementing tribal WtW programs, tribal agencies must carefully consider how their WtW programs will coordinate with other tribal and nontribal programs to maximize available resources and services. In relation to the size and need of the target population, WtW funding is small and time-limited. Well-established linkages with other programs and agencies--especially TANF--are critical for several reasons.

Linkages with other human service agencies and programs, such as TANF and housing assistance programs, can facilitate recruitment, which can be a difficult challenge to WtW programs. Forging a strong referral linkage with TANF, especially with local TANF offices, is imperative for ensuring a steady flow of referrals to WtW programs. Special collaborative efforts are needed to improve identification of tribal membership by local TANF offices. In recruiting and serving noncustodial parents, WtW programs need to establish referral arrangements with child support enforcement agencies, courts, the correctional system, homeless shelters, substance abuse treatment programs, and responsible fatherhood initiatives.

Linkages with human service agencies and programs can bring many needed services to which WtW participants can be referred. No single agency is likely to have the resources and expertise to address the full range of issues and problems participants face in making the difficult transition from welfare to work. Links with TANF and other agencies can help to stretch limited WtW funding by enabling participants to secure needed services using funding sources other than WtW. TANF programs in many states have greatly expanded the range and duration of support services for which they will provide payment. It is critical to examine the needs of the target population (for example, substance abuse treatment, child care, transportation, transitional housing), and then line up agencies that can respond effectively and rapidly with support services to meet these needs.

Linkages can help tribal employment and training agencies establish services for their members that outlive the time-limited nature of WtW. While Congress has extended the period over which WtW funding can be spent, WtW remains a time-limited source of funding. Given the poor economic conditions and the extent and intergenerational nature of welfare dependency on many reservations, it is not likely that the problem of transitioning welfare recipients to work will go away soon. Establishing links with other programs can help to ensure that a comprehensive employment and training system is in place in the future.