The Evaluation of the Tribal Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Initial Implementation Findings. Outreach and Recruitment Methods Used by Tribal WtW Programs


Tribal WtW programs generally establish referral arrangements with agencies that serve large numbers of WtW-eligible tribal members on and off the reservation. For the most part, the tribal WtW programs in our sample rely on direct referrals from local TANF offices. Typically, a memorandum of understanding is developed between the tribal WtW program and the local TANF agency, which defines roles and responsibilities of each agency. In particular, the agreement defines how individuals will be identified as WtW eligible by the TANF agency, the mechanics for referral of the individual for services, and the services the tribal WtW program will provide for participants who must meet TANF work requirements.

Despite a clear focus on obtaining direct referrals through local TANF offices, tribal WtW programs also do what they can to inform other agencies and the target population directly about WtW eligibility requirements and the availability of WtW-funded services through their programs. Programs inform WtW-eligible individuals by making staff at TANF and other human service agencies aware of program offerings and placing program literature where potential participants will likely see it. This includes making presentations about the WtW program on the reservation at traditional gatherings such as powwows, on feast days, and at meetings held by other programs on the reservation. Another strategy that sites employ is to visit other agencies that serve tribal members and to brief staff (individually or as a group) about available program services, eligibility, and how to refer eligible individuals to the program. Program brochures often are left with other agency staff to hand out to TANF recipients or be displayed in the agency's office. Another strategy is to place brochures about the program in places that WtW-eligible individuals are likely to frequent, such as the post office, BIA offices, local schools and training institutions, recreational facilities and playgrounds, public housing facilities, probation and parole agencies, and tribal courts. Program staff sometimes make presentations at orientation sessions attended by TANF recipients. Some sites have WtW project staff attend or set up booths at local job fairs and other community events, where they can distribute program literature and talk one-on-one with potential program recruits.

Some tribal sites obtain free public service announcements about their WtW programs on local radio and television stations. As appropriate, announcements are made in the native language such as Navajo or Athabascan. Program administrators and staff also give interviews to local radio and newspaper reporters--this provides an opportunity to inform a wider audience of WtW-eligible individuals (including custodial and noncustodial parents) about available services.

Finally, all sites relied on dissemination of program information by word of mouth, particularly through former participants and community leaders. Because programs mostly target tribal members living on or near the reservation, this is one of the most effective ways of disseminating information about the program and encouraging program participation. Hearing from a friend or relative that a program has provided useful services (such as helping them find a job) is perhaps the most effective way of stimulating interest in program participation.