In 2003, ASPE contracted with MPR to conduct a survey-based study of state and local contracting for social services under Charitable Choice, aiming to learn more about how state and local officials understood and applied the Charitable Choice provisions. The objectives of the study were to determine the extent to which state and local grant agencies for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and state agencies for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) contracted with FBOs and to assess the understanding of Charitable Choice provisions among agency officials. The study involved a survey conducted in 2004 of TANF and SAPT agencies responsible for service contracting.
In that study, TANF and SAPT contracting with FBOs was reported as having increased in the aggregate across the states between 2001 and 2004, both in dollar amounts and in proportions of contracts (Jacobson, Marsh, and Winston, 2005). At the same time, most TANF and SAPT agencies reported that Charitable Choice law had little or no effect on the preexisting policies that governed their contracting with FBOs. Despite this, many of the agencies reported undertaking significant outreach efforts to encourage prospective faith-based providers to partner with government and to remove barriers, and some cited activity by state or regional FCLs or by statewide offices of faith-based and community initiatives (FBCIs). Nearly all agencies recognized that certain characteristics and behaviors make FBOs ineligible for funding under Charitable Choice. However, several did not appear to know or to apply the relevant Charitable Choice provisions. In the study we noted lingering uncertainty about Charitable Choice implementation and suggested a further exploration of the FCLs role in facilitating implementation in the states. The present study is intended to respond to that call.