Privatization in Practice: Case Studies of Contracting for TANF Case Management. Affiliates of National Nonprofits


Some nonprofit organizations operate throughout the country via networks of locally governed affiliates. These organizations offer an array of social services to individuals and families, from homeless shelters to nutrition programs for the elderly. Within each network, a national office may develop broad general policies, provide technical assistance to members, and engage in policy advocacy. The local affiliates that provide direct services operate with substantial independence, however, and primarily receive funding from the communities in which they are based rather than their national organizations. They also typically receive much less assistance in proposal preparation and program development from their national headquarters than the national for-profits do. Their size, in terms of budget and number of employees, varies.

Affiliates of several national organizations provide TANF services in the study sites. They include:

  • Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego. Catholic Charities runs 35 programs in the San Diego area. The organizations services address homelessness; assistance for refugees and immigrants; pregnancy, parenting, and adoption; and other issues.
  • Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. Lutheran Social Services is one of the largest nonprofit agencies in Minnesota. It offers assistance in varied areas, including housing, mental health, employment, and refugee resettlement.
  • American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center of Minnesota and the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Greater Milwaukee. Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC) in Hennepin County and Wisconsin offer education and job skills training, employment assistance, housing, and other services for low-income people.
  • Salvation Army Delaware Region. The Salvation Army in Delaware maintains separate arms for its ministry and social services activities. Its social services division operates child care, employment, emergency assistance, and other programs.

Affiliates that opt to compete for TANF case management contracts typically view the undertaking as an extension of their current employment and training programs, consistent with their mission to serve the poor and disadvantaged. Their service model may include links with other programs that the local and parent organizations offer to low-income families. While many affiliates have a history of providing services as government contractors, TANF case management may be a new, and substantially different, role for them. In particular, staff members may be forced to implement policies that seem severe  such as sanctioning clients who fail to meet work requirements  and that are in tension with the organizations traditional role as providers of assistance to the needy.

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