Performance Improvement 2009. Do Programs Use Vouchers and Other Indirect Funding Mechanisms to Improve Client Choices?


This study culminated an examination titled “ Understanding Vouchers as a Tool to Expand Client Choices in HHS Programs.” The study represented a first step toward better understanding the role of indirect funding mechanisms such as vouchers to increase client choice of service provider and expanding the array of providers to include faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs).

Voucher use varied greatly between the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) programs. The federal framework for CCDF required the use of vouchers, and as a result most states offered certificates to families that could be redeemed with providers of their choice. In TANF, legislative authority is given for voucher use, but there is no requirement to use them and we found only a few examples of their use. Some TANF programs integrated client-choice concepts into their contract-based service delivery system by offering clients a choice from among a set of contracted providers. Such models preserved an element of financial stability for providers who depended on the consistency of contracts to create the organizational and staffing capacity. The use of vouchers alone did not maximize client choice; program policies and procedures influenced choice. The value of vouchers, the provision of information to allow clients to make informed decisions, provider qualifications for program participation, the voucher-funded service and the client’s interest in receiving the service all affected client choice. While program officials recognized and appreciated the role of FBCOs in providing child care and services to the low-income, they did not seem to consider vouchers as a means of expanding the role of FBCOs in the service delivery network.

Report Title: Using Vouchers to Deliver Social Services: Considerations Based on the CCDF and TANF Program Experiences
Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy
Federal Contact: Alana Landey, 202-401-6636
Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
PIC ID: 8860

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