Role of Intermediaries in Linking TANF Recipients with Jobs: Final Report. Key Lessons Learned


1.  There are a variety of ways to transfer employment-related responsibilities to intermediaries.  Given that localities have different resources, needs and priorities, a service delivery structure that works in one locality may not necessarily work in another.

The local sites examined for this study transferred responsibility to intermediaries in a number of different ways.  The decisions they made reflected differences in their in-house resources, administrative structure, prior experience with intermediaries and perceptions of the relative effectiveness of government and the private sector.  Based on their early experience, there is no evidence to suggest that one particular strategy for transferring responsibilities to intermediaries will produce better results than another.  Instead, what appears to matter is creating an infrastructure that builds on the strengths of the local community.

It is also important to note that the decisions one makes regarding how much responsibility to transfer to intermediaries can impact the kinds of organizations that are qualified to function as an intermediary.  In particular, when responsibilities are broadly defined and the number of clients to be served is large, non-profit organizations may be less likely than large for-profit organizations with a national infrastructure to act as an intermediary.

2.  Clearly defined roles and responsibilities and ongoing communication are critical to the implementation of the intermediary function.

Intermediaries are operating in a complex policy and administrative environment.  Regardless of how TANF is administered and how much responsibility is transferred to intermediaries, the process of linking welfare recipients with jobs is a shared responsibility.  Welfare office staff remain responsible for referring clients to intermediaries, imposing sanctions on clients who do not participate in work-related activities and authorizing work supports such as food stamps and Medicaid when clients are no longer eligible for cash assistance.  When the welfare office and the workforce development system are both involved in the administration of TANF or providing employment-related services to TANF recipients, clearly defined roles and responsibilities and clear procedures for transferring information between agencies are even more critical.

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