Tribal respondents interviewed for this study noted that each tribe and tribal consortium faces different circumstances and must reach its own conclusion about the operation of tribal TANF. There is no single right answer or approach. The decision process requires consensus building among tribal members, and information must be gathered and disseminated so that stakeholders can educate themselves about their options and make informed choices. Consultation with tribal members who participate in the state TANF program and with those who participated in the AFDC program can provide valuable information for decision makers. Most tribal consortia face an additional challenge in the consultation process¾in addition to consulting with tribal members, each member of the consortium must assess the advantages and disadvantages of operating TANF for itself and for the consortium as a whole.
One site visit respondent said that, even with careful data analysis and consensus building, the decision process is ultimately a "leap of faith." Since funding levels are set based on 1994 AFDC caseloads, a tribe can never be sure that it will be able to serve all eligible participants if unexpected events or circumstances arise, such as a natural disaster that reduces tribal members' income or employment.