Designing Solely State-Funded Programs: Implementation Guide For One “Win-Win” Solution For Families And States
Publication Date: July 2007
Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Keywords: Economic projections; State budgets; Economic inequality; Income diversity
States are under pressure to meet these increased work rates and, if they fail to do so, they ultimately will face fiscal penalties. At the same, many states will face a tension between initiating or continuing programs that are effective in addressing the range of employability needs of TANF families and creating programs that focus more narrowly on those activities that can count toward federal work rates, even when these “countable” activities are not a good match for some families. Many of the families that are eligible for TANF and that are not able to secure stable employment quickly face serious barriers, ranging from mental and physical health problems and low cognitive functioning to domestic violence, substance abuse, and unstable housing. If these families are to engage in welfare-to-work activities consistently and ultimately move toward employment, more creative and intensive approaches tailored to meet these challenges will be needed. One approach some states already have taken and others are considering in response to these challenges is to serve some families — those for whom the federal work participation requirements are inappropriate, overly restrictive, or (in the case of two-parent families) simply too high — outside of the TANF/MOE structure in a separate program that is funded solely with state funds that are not claimed toward the TANF maintenance-of-effort requirement. The state can provide these families with the types of training, education, or rehabilitative activities they need and many could make progress toward future participation in federally countable work activities and employment. This report provides practical guidance and legal information to state policymakers, human service agency staff, policy analysts, and others on the details of shaping and implementing this approach.