Operating TANF: Opportunities and Challenges for Tribes and Tribal Consortia. Special Challenges for Tribal Consortia


Because a group of sovereign tribes make up a tribal consortium, the decision to operate TANF can be especially difficult. Generally, each tribe has to decide whether its members would be better served by the state, the consortium, or its own TANF program. There were two tribal consortia in the study--Tlingit and Haida and Torres Martinez. Tlingit and Haida, while a federally recognized tribe, is one of the 12 Alaska Native regional entities that are eligible to operate TANF under section 419(4)(B) of the Social Security Act. Since the Act does not extend eligibility to operate TANF to Alaska Native villages, the communities that comprise Tlingit and Haida are ineligible to operate TANF independently--the choice for these communities (and for other Alaska Native villages) is whether to receive TANF from the consortium or from the State of Alaska. Tlingit and Haida asked representatives from all communities to discuss whether the consortium should take over the TANF program. They also gave presentations at the villages and brought representatives from the villages to Juneau. Although communicating and coordinating planning efforts were challenging, the consortium approach has enabled tribes and Alaska Native villages with few members to work collectively to provide TANF services. According to program staff, it would have been impractical (even if allowed) for the member tribes to implement and operate a tribal TANF program without working as a consortium.


1.  While any tribe can coordinate its programs regardless of the funding source, study informants at grantees that participated in the 477 program said that the program made a dramatic difference in their coordination efforts, activities, and achievements

2.  Section 9(b) of PL 102-477 provides that 477 tribes may use a percentage of 477 project funds for creation of employment opportunities, including private sector training placement. The maximum percentage of 477 program funds that may be used is the greater of the unemployment rate in the tribe's service area, up to 25%, or 10%.

3.  The Lac du Flambeau and Red Cliff tribes, through special arrangements with the state of Wisconsin, participated in the operation of the AFDC program.

4.  Most of the grantees selected for this study were early program implementers and thus had some degree of experience in operating the TANF program. Grantees with little TANF experience were unlikely to have developed innovative approaches and therefore were unlikely to be selected in the sample.

View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 363.88Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®