Role of Intermediaries in Linking TANF Recipients with Jobs: Final Report. How Much Responsibility to Transfer to Intermediaries

02/10/2000

The amount of responsibility the local sites transferred to intermediaries ranged from full responsibility for all employment-related services to no responsibility (see Table II.2).  Of the 20 study sites, 18 transfer some responsibility for providing employment-related services to intermediaries.  The two sites that do not transfer any responsibility to intermediaries are both rural sites that provide all employment-related services in-house or rely on existing resources in the community.  Decisions regarding how much responsibility to transfer to intermediaries not only define the role intermediaries play in linking welfare recipients with jobs but also the extent to which the welfare office plays a role in helping welfare recipients to find and/or maintain employment.  Several key patterns emerge regarding how much responsibility the local sites transferred to intermediaries:

1.  The employment-related responsibilities transferred to intermediaries most often are job search and placement assistance, although a substantial number of communities also transfer responsibility for case management.

Intermediaries provide job search and placement assistance in all of the sites that transfer some work-related responsibilities to intermediaries.  In 12 of these (seven urban and five rural), intermediaries have responsibility for providing case management for the majority of the TANF caseload that is required to look for work; in three of the urban sites welfare office staff also provide case management, but for a relatively small portion of the overall caseload.

Given the emphasis on shifting the focus of the welfare office from determining eligibility to helping TANF recipients make the transition to unsubsidized paid employment, it is noteworthy that so many of the sites, especially in the urban areas, transferred primary responsibility for providing case management services to intermediaries.  Cleveland is the only urban site where former eligibility staff have been retrained to function as "self-sufficiency coaches," assuming responsibility for eligibility and case management.  The other urban sites that provide case management have separate staff, usually working in a separate unit, who have responsibility for this function.  When case management responsibilities are transferred, the intermediary is responsible not only for linking TANF recipients with jobs but also for working with the recipients to develop self-sufficiency plans and linking them with the resources they need to achieve the goals outlined in their plans.

Table II.2
Allocation of Employment-Related Responsibilities Between The Welfare Office and Intermediaries
  Responsibility Transferred to Intermediaries Responsibility Retained by the Welfare Office # of Primary Intermed. Method of Assignment
Eligibility Case Mgmt Job Search Secondary Services Eligibility Case Mgmt Job Search Secondary Services
Urban Sites (TANF Caseload)
San Diego, CA (38,000)   P P P P S S S 3 Geographic
Cleveland, OH (33,000)     P P P P   S 9 Discretion
Phoenix, AZ (15,219) S S S S P P P P 1 Geographic
San Antonio, TX (13,598)   P P P P       1  
St. Paul, MN (9,300)   P P P P S S S 7 Discretion
Hartford, CT (5,800)   P P P P       3 Discretion
Richmond, VA (4,539)     S S P P P P 1  
Omaha, NE (3,500)   P P S P S     2 Discretion
Little Rock, AK (2,168)   P P P P P     7 Geographic
Jacksonville, FL (3,984)   P P P P       1  
Rural Sites
New London, CT (2,400)   P P P P       3 Functional
Olmsted, MN (807)   P P P P     S 2 Functional
Wise, VA (757)         P P P P 0  
Scotts Bluff, NE (600)     S S P P P   1  
Napa, CA (590)   P P P P P     1 Functional
Yavapai, AZ (582)         P P P P 0  
Jefferson, AK (329)       S P P P P 0  
Suwannee, FL ( 311)   P P P P       1  
Columbiana, OH (200)     S S P P P P 1  
Uvalde, TX (200)   P P P P       1  
Notes:

P = Primary Responsibility; S = Secondary Responsibility

2.  Some welfare offices that transfer significant responsibility for providing primary employment services to intermediaries continue to provide these services for at least some portion of the TANF caseload.  Some welfare offices, however, have no responsibility for providing employment-related services to TANF recipients.

Many welfare offices developed some capacity for providing employment-related services to welfare recipients through their implementation of the JOBS program.  Several of the sites have continued to rely on this expertise to provide employment-related services to at least a portion of the TANF caseload (see Table II.2).  For example, in Maricopa County (Phoenix), full responsibility for TANF implementation was transferred to an intermediary in only part of the county; in the remainder of the county, former JOBS staff provide case management services and operate a semi-structured job search assistance program for all TANF recipients required to find employment.  In St. Paul and San Diego, welfare office staff provide case management and job search and placement services to a portion of the TANF caseload; the remainder of the caseload receives these services from an intermediary.  In Richmond, welfare office staff provide case management services for all TANF clients and job search and placement services are provided in-house for some clients and by intermediaries for others.  In Omaha, welfare office staff refer all clients to intermediaries for job search and placement services but provide case management in-house for almost half the caseload.  In many of the sites, job ready clients are referred to a resource room located at the welfare office to look for employment on their own.

Due to their smaller size, the rural welfare offices have maintained more responsibility for providing primary employment-related services to TANF recipients.  For example, in Wise County, welfare staff provide case management, job search assistance and placement and develop and monitor recipients' participation in work experience placements.  When appropriate, welfare office staff refer TANF clients to existing employment or training programs in the community.  Even in Columbiana and Scottsbluff, where intermediaries are used to provide primary employment services to some TANF recipients, welfare staff provide job search and placement assistance to the majority of the TANF caseload.  As its caseload declines, TANF staff in Columbiana are taking on more responsibility for helping clients find employment, reducing the number of clients served by Columbiana's primary intermediary.

Welfare offices in three of the ten states (Connecticut, Florida, and Texas) have no responsibility for providing employment-related services to TANF recipients.  In Connecticut and Texas, full responsibility for providing employment-related services has been transferred to the workforce development system.  In Florida, local WAGES coalitions decide who will provide employment services to TANF recipients.  Some local WAGES coalitions rely on the local community college to provide these service while others have used a competitive bidding process to select one or more intermediaries to provide them.

3.  When secondary employment-related services are provided, they are almost always provided by intermediaries, however, in most sites, these programs are still in the early stages of development.

Although some secondary services are provided in all of these sites, they do not reach large numbers of recipients and are in the very early stages of development.  When secondary employment services are provided they almost always are provided by intermediaries, usually using funds from the Welfare-to-Work program.  Unlike primary employment services that include similar elements across all of the sites, secondary services vary considerably.  In some sites the only secondary service provided is work experience; in others, short-term training or programs to promote job retention and advancement are emphasized.  Work experience programs and intensive case management and outreach for sanctioned families are the only secondary employment programs that are sometimes provided by welfare office staff.

Using Intermediaries to Help the Hard-to-Employ Find Employment
Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) stands apart from the other study sites in both its approach and the comprehensive nature of the secondary employment services it provides to TANF recipients.  In late 1998, Cleveland issued a request for proposals to identify intermediaries who could provide employment services to TANF recipients who are deemed "hard-to-employ."  Through this process, Cleveland now has 19 intermediaries who will provide specialized job search and supportive services for ex-offenders, recipients with chronic barriers to employment such as substance abuse or mental health and "intermittent" workers who can find, but do not retain employment.

All of these services are being funded with TANF funds, making it possible for the welfare office to set and, if necessary, redefine the eligibility criteria for receipt of these more specialized services.  The expectation is that TANF recipients referred to these more specialized intermediaries will receive more intensive services than recipients who receive regular job search and placement assistance; follow-up services may be provided for some participants for as long as 18 months.  The intermediaries that will provide these services are primarily local nonprofit organizations, including several that specialize in providing supportive and/or employment services to hard-to-employ populations outside of the TANF system.

4.  The local sites' decisions regarding how much responsibility to transfer to intermediaries were influenced by their current and potential administrative capacity, their previous experience with intermediaries, the TANF administrative structure, caseload size, and legislative mandates.

Even though the local sites are operating in a range of policy environments, these policies seemed to have little, if any, influence on the decisions the local sites made regarding how much responsibility to transfer to intermediaries.  Instead, the factors that most affected their decisions focused primarily on administrative considerations, including whether the local site had or could hire sufficient staff to provide services in-house and their previous experience working with intermediaries or their perceptions of the advantages of doing so.

Limited Administrative Capacity.  Lack of administrative capacity significantly influenced several local offices' decisions regarding how much responsibility to transfer to intermediaries.  For example, San Diego estimated that they would need 433 additional staff to provide employment services to the portion of their TANF caseload that was mandated to find employment.  Operating in an environment where there is considerable support for privatizing government operations, county officials enthusiastically embraced the decision to transfer significant responsibility to intermediaries rather than add this number of additional staff to the county's payroll.  In Omaha, where the welfare office is under a statewide hiring freeze, the decision to transfer significant responsibility to intermediaries was viewed as a necessity, rather than the optimum service delivery arrangement.

History.  Previous experience with intermediaries played a much greater role in the decision to use intermediaries in some of the local sites.  For example, having used intermediaries to provide case management and employment-related services under the JOBS program, Ramsey County (St. Paul) was able to build on established relationships with providers in the community to expand its capacity for providing employment-related services to TANF recipients.  Napa, operating one of the oldest one stop centers in the country, already had a comprehensive, well-functioning collaborative service system in place on which they could build.  New London chose to design a service delivery system that would take into account the strengths of the organizations already providing employment-related services in the community.

Administrative Structure.  In the sites where the welfare office retained administrative responsibility for TANF employment programs, responsibility for providing employment-related services was usually shared between the welfare office and intermediaries.  However, when administrative responsibility for TANF employment programs was transferred to the workforce development system, all responsibility for providing employment services was transferred to intermediaries, leaving the welfare system with no employment-related responsibilities.

Caseload Size.  The urban sites were more likely to transfer responsibility to intermediaries than the rural sites.  However, within the urban sites, caseload size did not seem to be the primary determinant of how much responsibility to transfer to intermediaries.  For example, the three sites with the largest TANF caseloads made very different decisions regarding how much responsibility to transfer to intermediaries.  One of the largest sites transferred responsibility for case management and job search and placement assistance to intermediaries for two-thirds of its TANF caseload.  A second transferred responsibility for job search and placement assistance but not case management for its entire TANF caseload.  A third currently provides all primary employment services in-house for the majority of its TANF caseload.

Legislative Mandates.  The legislatures in three of the states enacted legislation to encourage greater use of intermediaries.  The Arizona legislature mandated that full responsibility for operation of the TANF program (including eligibility determination) in a portion of Maricopa County (including part of Phoenix) be transferred to the private sector.  If the intermediary selected to operate the TANF program meets its performance goals, the legislature's long-range plan is to transfer statewide operation of the TANF program to the intermediary.  The legislatures in Arkansas and Florida mandated the creation of new administrative structures to increase the role of the private sector in the implementation of TANF.  In Arkansas, the state Transitional Employment Board (TEB) and local Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA) coalitions have responsibility for planning and coordinating the delivery of employment-related services for TANF recipients.  In Florida, this responsibility rests with the state Work and Gain Economic Self-Sufficiency (WAGES) Board and the local WAGES coalitions.

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