Role of Intermediaries in Linking TANF Recipients with Jobs: Final Report. Defining Intermediaries


Intermediaries are not new to the welfare system. Prior to the implementation of TANF, some welfare offices used intermediaries (often referred to as employment and training service providers) to operate all or part of their Job Opportunities and Basic Skills training (JOBS) programs. Intermediaries also provide services to welfare recipients and other low-income job seekers through the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) programs. In addition, some community-based organizations act as intermediaries, helping unemployed community residents (some of whom are welfare recipients) find employment, often in conjunction with participation in other programs.

Given the broad range of organizations that might be classified as intermediaries in any one community, we sought to develop a definition of an intermediary that would allow valid comparisons across communities. After considering several definitions, we established two criteria that an organization had to meet to be classified as an intermediary for purposes of this study:

  1. They must provide services that help link welfare recipients with jobs.
  2. They must have a formal relationship with the welfare office or other administrative entity that has responsibility for moving welfare recipients into the labor market.

In an effort to maintain a focus on intermediaries who link welfare recipients with jobs we explicitly excluded two potentially large groups of organizations that often are thought of as intermediaries:  (1) organizations that provide only supportive services (such as child care, transportation, food, clothing or legal assistance) and (2) organizations that offer only education or training services without a job placement component [such as Adult Basic Education (ABE), English as a Second Language (ESL) and General Equivalency Diploma (GED) programs and some community college education, vocational education or training programs]. While narrow in some respects, this definition made it possible to gather and compare information on the universe of intermediaries within select communities in a relatively short time frame and with modest financial resources.

To distinguish the various roles intermediaries play in helping link welfare recipients with jobs we classify intermediaries into two groups, primary and secondary intermediaries. Primary intermediaries provide job search and placement assistance, and sometimes case management, to most TANF recipients who are mandated to find employment. Secondary intermediaries operate work experience, education, training, supported work, job retention, advancement or other specialized employment programs for a more limited pool of recipients.

What Is an Intermediary?
Intermediary An organization that has responsibility for linking TANF recipients with jobs through a formal relationship with the state or local entity responsible for the administration of TANF or Welfare-to-Work employment programs.
Primary Intermediary An intermediary that operates a job search and placement assistance program targeted to most TANF recipients who are required to find employment.
Secondary Intermediary An intermediary that operates a work experience, education, training, supported work, job retention, advancement or other specialized employment program for a limited pool of TANF recipients.

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