The Evaluation of the Tribal Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Initial Implementation Findings. Forming a Consortium or Establishing a 477 Program Can Help Tribes Implement Welfare Reform and WtW Programs


Small tribes face unique challenges in implementing welfare reform that can be mitigated if they form a consortium to provide employment, training, and other programs. Two of the WtW grantees in the study--California Indian Manpower Consortium and Tanana Chiefs Conference--are consortia. A consortium enables small tribes to share program staff and operating costs. This is of particular benefit when the funding allocated for an individual tribe would be too little for the tribe to operate a TANF or WtW program on its own. A consortium approach to implementing programs such as WtW presents some challenges, however. Substantial coordination activities are required. Each participating tribe must be well informed about the purpose and goals of the collaboration, involved in the development of the plan of operation, and updated regularly about program status and results. In addition, consortia may have to deal with multiple state or county TANF agencies, which requires time and resources.

Tribes may also want to consider establishing a 477 program, which makes it easier for them to merge funding from WtW, NEW, and other sources for employment and training activities. Three of the sites included in our sample had established such programs. The main advantages of these programs are that (1) a larger integrated pool of funds for employment and training activities is established; (2) regulations governing expenditures can be streamlined, reducing reporting requirements and permitting more flexibility in the use of funds; (3) staff can more easily be deployed across programs and multiple funding sources; (4) the number of funding sources across which expenditures need to be accounted for is reduced; (5) referrals across programs can be eliminated and participant confusion about available programs/services can be reduced; and (6) burden on participants and duplicative delivery of services across programs can be reduced (for example, a single intake form can be used, assessment can be done only once). Similar program integration goals, of course, can be pursued outside of the 477 program, but it provides some additional tools that tribes can use.