In general, the grantees were eventually able to implement programs as intended. Administrators and staff devoted much attention to understanding the challenges they were facing, developing strategies to overcome those challenges, and making mid-course adjustments to their programs and their goals. By mid-2001, about half of the programs in the study sites had reached or exceeded their planned enrollment levels, and the others that were still enrolling individuals in mid-2001 planned to reach their goals within a year. Two of the programs, though, were still experiencing serious problems two years after beginning operations, with very low enrollment levels and ongoing implementation problems--the program operated by the Milwaukee Department of Corrections serving noncustodial fathers being released from prison, and the Long Beach Career Transcript System program affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. All of the other study programs, however, were fully implemented.
The pace of implementation in all programs, however, was slower than planners had expected, in large part because of difficulties that arose in the first year, many of which resulted from specific provisions in the federal legislation. The most pronounced implementation problems were related to operationalizing the complex eligibility criteria specified in the legislation and assuring compatibility with existing TANF policies and programs. One of the more obvious problems developed because programs had incorrectly presumed that they would be able to receive appropriate referrals of eligible individuals from TANF agencies. All the study grantees realized very early that they needed other strategies, and they incorporated intensive outreach, marketing, and publicity efforts to identify potential participants. Even with those new outreach efforts, however, several of the grantees continued to struggle with low enrollment levels.