Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. I. Introduction


Congress established the Welfare-to-Work (WtW) grants program as part of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997. Its purpose was to provide additional resources to supplement the welfare reform funds included in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to states, which were authorized under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. WtW funds were intended to support programs, especially in high-poverty communities, to assist the least employable, most disadvantaged welfare recipients make the transition from welfare to work. These funds were also available to help noncustodial parents with employment difficulties increase their earnings and better support their children. Congress appropriated these funds because of a concern that in high-poverty communities it would be relatively more difficult than in other communities to achieve the employment objectives of welfare reform, and that the same communities might eventually bear additional financial burdens when individuals reach their lifetime limits on welfare. The federal WtW funds were distributed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to state and local grantees in 1998 and 1999. Initially, grantees were expected to spend the funds within three years of their receipt, but amendments in 1999 extended the period to five years.

Congress mandated that the WtW grants program be evaluated. Under contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., along with its subcontractors the Urban Institute and Support Services International, is conducting the national evaluation to document implementation of WtW programs and employment and welfare outcomes for program participants. This is one of several reports based on the results of the national evaluation , and presents the findings from the process and implementation analysis.

The remainder of this chapter provides an overview of the WtW grants program and the welfare reform context within which it has been implemented, the evaluation study design, and the objectives of this report. Subsequent chapters describe the programs implemented in eleven study sites in terms of institutional arrangements, participant enrollment, WtW services, and program models.

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