Operating TANF: Opportunities and Challenges for Tribes and Tribal Consortia. Federal Policies and Procedures


The study results suggest some aspects of federal policy or procedures that can impinge on tribal TANF operations. Some might affect how readily tribal TANF participants can get access to other federal programs, and some can influence tribes' decisions to take over operation of TANF.

  • Use of State TANF Information and Reporting Systems by Tribal Grantees. To help tribal TANF grantees produce the required reports, DHHS developed and disseminated the FTANF reporting system for tribal grantees. Some tribal grantees found the system to be inflexible, however, in part because it cannot easily export or import data to and from other systems. To reduce costs and promote efficiency, some tribal grantees have adopted or attempted to adopt state TANF information systems to track and report services provided and participant accomplishments. Study grantees said that they were unable to produce required quarterly TANF reports using the state systems. A review of ways to facilitate the use of state TANF information systems by tribal grantees and identification of technical assistance needed by tribal grantees may be warranted.
  • Coordination of Tribal TANF Programs and State-Administered Programs. States administer the Medicaid, SCHIP, and Food Stamp programs used by many tribal TANF participants. Working with states and tribes, DHHS could develop ways to facilitate the enrollment and participation of tribal TANF participants in these programs, possibly through the waiver process, as in the state of Wisconsin.
  • Enhanced Technical Assistance to Tribes for TANF Planning and Implementation. DHHS has provided extensive technical assistance to tribes and tribal consortia in developing TANF plans and implementing TANF programs. The tribes and consortia that were among the first to implement the TANF program benefited from this assistance, but the next waves of tribes and tribal consortia developing and implementing TANF programs may have even greater needs for guidance. Tribes that have experience operating TANF may be able to help those starting out, but providing that help will strain tribal resources. Providing funding to tribal grantees that have successfully implemented TANF programs to mentor others may be worthy of consideration.

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