Welfare-to-Work Grants Programs: Adjusting to Changing Circumstances. IV. WTW Legacy and Lessons


The WtW grants provided supplemental resources that were intended to complement TANF funds and focus specifically on those welfare recipients and noncustodial parents with particularly difficult barriers to employment. Grantees were given broad discretion in targeting and designing programs. At the same time, the federal legislation, at least initially, placed some restrictions on eligibility and services which presented special implementation challenges that had to be addressed. Despite the frustrations in the first two years over the very strict eligibility criteria and the difficulties programs had identifying eligible participants, we heard generally positive opinions about the WtW grants program. , with the exception of the frustrations in the first two years regarding the very strict eligibility criteria. Administrators' perceptions do not, of course, represent empirical evidence about the effectiveness of a program. Their informed opinions do, however, provide useful insights into the implementation of work programs for hard-to-employ populations and suggest important program and policy implications.

We asked WtW grantee administrators to provide their own personal perspectives about the "legacy" of WtW. Was it worthwhile and what were its strengths? What were some of the main lessons they learned from the experience? Did the WtW grants program improve how their agencies or communities serve individuals considered hard-to-employ? Administrators generally feel that the grants provided an important, and flexible, opportunity to improve and/or expand services to welfare recipients and develop some new approaches to serve hard-to-employ individuals.

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