Further Progress, Persistent Constraints: Findings From a Second Survey of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. Strategy for Recruiting Noncustodial Parents Has Shifted


Noncustodial male parents are expected to comprise about 20 percent of all WtW participants, but enrollment of male participants has been well below that relative rate. This pattern appears to have led to two adjustments in how grantees expect to recruit noncustodial parents.

First, it appears that grantees have, to some extent, lost confidence in child support enforcement agencies as a source of WtW referrals. Coordination with child support enforcement (CSE) agencies was initially seen as an important recruitment strategy for WtW programs striving to serve noncustodial parents. Many grantees continue to target this population, but the grantee survey shows a decline in the number of grantees that expect to get referrals from CSE agencies, from 55 percent in the first survey to 42 percent in the second.(5)

Difficulties getting referrals from CSE agencies may be partly addressed by the recently enacted changes in law affecting the WtW program. Confidentiality issues sometimes prevented CSE agencies from sharing information on noncustodial parents potentially eligible for WtW with grantees, from confirming through the appropriate TANF agency that their children were members of a "long-term TANF case," or both. Such concerns were therefore addressed directly in the WtW amendments, which now permit CSE and TANF agencies to share information on noncustodial parents with WIBs to help them identify and contact noncustodial parents with regard to participation in WtW programs.

Second, it appears that grantees that focus on noncustodial parents may be placing greater emphasis than before on getting recruits from the courts and corrections agencies. "Male-emphasis" grantees are equally likely to coordinate with these entities as they are to work with CSE agencies for WtW referrals. However, they expect the courts and corrections departments to account for a larger share of their recruits (eight percent, compared to six percent from CSE agencies).(6)  Given low overall enrollment rates, of course, it remains to be seen whether grantees' hopes for success with these recruiting sources will be borne out.

Finally, it is clear that direct outreach and publicity are an important male recruitment strategy. The reductions in the shares of WtW participants expected to be referred from TANF, CSE, and other sources are mirrored by increases in the share of participants expected to be recruited through direct outreach and self-referral. Grantees emphasizing services to males are more likely to use these strategies than other WtW grantees; they expect these recruitment methods, in combination, to yield about 16 percent of all their WtW participants.



1.  Grantees were asked in both surveys to report the total number of participants they expected to enroll and serve using federal WtW funds. Some grantees might have reported in the first survey only on the enrollment they expected to achieve with the funds already received. Such grantees might have reported in the second survey both an increase in projected enrollment and WtW grant funding.

2.  Women are, in some instances, noncustodial parents. This occurs in cases when children have been placed in the father's custody or under protective custody with a grandparent, other relative, or foster family.

3.  In the first survey, it was estimated that grantees would need more than five years to meet their enrollment targets at their then current pace. The reduction in the estimated "full enrollment period" is due entirely to decreases in grantees' estimates of their total projected enrollment under formula and competitive grants.

4.  These grantees are identified by the fact that they project that 30 to 100 percent of their participants will be male.

5.  The same pattern was found among grantees that responded to both surveys.

6.  Among the 47 repeat survey respondents that emphasize serving males, the share of referrals expected from courts and corrections departments was 7.1 percent in the first survey and 7.6 percent in the second survey. This difference was not statistically significant.

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