Operating TANF: Opportunities and Challenges for Tribes and Tribal Consortia. Potential Staffing Problems


Addressing the significant staffing needs of the TANF program can create difficult personnel issues for tribes and tribal consortia. A tribe must use staff resources just to decide whether to operate the program. Staff is also needed to develop the TANF plan, and far more staff is required to implement and operate the program. Often, staff is borrowed from other tribal programs, which can add to the burden on other tribal social services. When staff temporarily assigned to the planning process return to their original program, the transition may be difficult for both programs.

Qualified staff to operate tribal TANF programs is sometimes scarce. Staff from state TANF programs could offer their knowledge and experience to fill positions in tribal TANF programs, but tribal members rarely have this employment experience. Hiring nontribal members to staff tribal programs, moreover, may be inconsistent with the letter and spirit of tribal Indian preference employment regulations. Such hiring is likely to be controversial (especially if a tribe has a high rate of unemployment) and may produce social and political dissension.

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