Operating TANF: Opportunities and Challenges for Tribes and Tribal Consortia. Making the Decision to Operate Tribal TANF


For many tribes, the decision to assume responsibility for the TANF program is a critical one. On the one hand, the prospect of tribal control of TANF represents the opportunity to improve services to tribal program participants, extend tribal self-determination, expand program coordination, and can enhance the reputation and image of the tribe. On the other hand, the cost of implementing and operating TANF, the risk that vulnerable tribal members may be harmed if services are inadequate, potential staffing problems, and problems with the state can deter tribes from taking over operation of the program. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages involves careful assessment and consultation among many stakeholders. This chapter examines the key incentives and disincentives that affect tribal decisions on operating TANF, and describes tribal experiences in obtaining the input needed to reach a decision.

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