Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program. A. Targeting

08/01/2002

WtW grantees were instructed by Congress to serve welfare recipients and other low-income parents who are the most disadvantaged. Grantees in the study sites generally met this challenge by targeting the hard-to-employ within the TANF population, although several programs focused on specific WtW-eligible subgroups within TANF. While the 1999 amendments allow WtW programs to also serve non-TANF low-income parents, study grantees rarely did. Although some administrators and staff expressed interest in expanding their population, they generally noted that they had to focus more on improving their enrollment of TANF recipients, especially those who met the 70 percent criteria. If they could obtain a high enough level of "70 percent" participants, then they could focus on other eligible groups. Similarly, the federal law allows programs to enroll noncustodial parents, and most of the grantees indicated they intended to serve this group, but aside from the Milwaukee NOW program very few NCPs were enrolled in the study sites.

In the study sites, there is generally no specific screening or targeting to decide which TANF recipients might enroll in a WtW grant-funded program. Instead, TANF recipients usually enter WtW programs in less formal ways. TANF staff typically have discretion to refer recipients to various programs, one of which might be funded by a WtW grant, and many participants enroll in this way. Many TANF clients also enter WtW programs as a result of direct outreach and recruitment efforts undertaken by the program staff. In both situations, staff at either the TANF office or the WtW program screen potential enrollees to determine if they meet the WtW eligibility criteria and whether they qualify under the 30 percent spending category or the 70 percent spending category, but no other special targeting is done.

Several WtW grantees, nonetheless, used indirect targeting strategies to focus on particular subgroups of WtW-eligible TANF recipients. A common indirect targeting method is the selection of service delivery contractors who have special experience. Even though services are open to all eligible persons, some study grantees (e.g., Chicago, Fort Worth, Nashville) in effect target special groups because they select service providers who specialize in serving certain groups such as homeless families, persons with mental or physical disabilities, individuals with limited education or English-speaking skills, persons who reside in certain neighborhoods, or persons from particular ethnic groups.(13)

A different targeting strategy involves focusing WtW resources on those TANF recipients who do not obtain employment through the regular TANF work program, presumably the harder-to-employ. If only those recipients who have first participated in a TANF work program can get into a WtW program, those in WtW are more likely than not to have barriers to employment. Philadelphia's TWC program, Nashville's Pathways, and the Yakima WtW program, for example, serve individuals after they have already participated in the official TANF work program but were not able to find a job.

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