Operating TANF: Opportunities and Challenges for Tribes and Tribal Consortia. Enhanced Program Coordination


Coordination among human service agencies and programs can help overcome the many employment barriers that American Indians and Alaska Natives face. When a state operates the program, the TANF office often is far from the reservation, and it is difficult to coordinate services and activities with tribally operated programs, such as WtW, NEW, and vocational and adult education. When a tribe operates TANF, the offices are on the reservation, often in the same building as, or near, other tribal programs. This proximity, common administrative structure (all are tribal programs), and overlapping service populations facilitate program coordination.

The "477 program," which is available only to Indian tribes, can further enhance program coordination. It allows tribes to coordinate and integrate employment, workforce development, training, and related programs, combining funds received under formula grants from different federal departments and agencies, including DHHS, the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Interior. (1)

In addition, "477 tribes" may use a portion of their total plan resources (including TANF, if it is part of the 477 plan) for economic development activities. (2) The tribe develops a single plan, with a single budget, developed in accordance with tribally-determined goals and priorities. Informants at the four tribal grantees that operate 477 programs (Mille Lacs, Port Gamble, Tlingit and Haida, and Winnebago) said that, because of its size and its emphasis on moving participants from welfare to work, the TANF program was an attractive candidate for incorporation into a tribe's 477 program.

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