Workforce Investment Act:

States and Localities Increasingly Coordinate Services for TANF Clients, but Better Information Needed on Effective Approaches

GAO-02-696: Published: Jul 3, 2002. Publicly Released: Jul 3, 2002.

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The 1998 Workforce Investment Act (WIA) required states to provide most federally funded employment-related services through one-stop centers. Two years earlier, welfare reform legislation created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant which provided flexibility to states to focus on helping needy adults with children find and maintain employment. Nearly all states reported some coordination of their TANF and WIA services at the state or local level, and the use of some of these coordination methods increased between 2000 and 2001. Historical relationships, geographic considerations, adequacy of facilities, and different perspectives on how best to serve TANF clients influenced how states and localities choose to coordinate services with one-stop centers. Several challenges, including program differences between TANF and WIA and different information systems used by welfare and workforce agencies, inhibit state and local coordination efforts. Though some states and localities have found creative ways to work around these issues, the differences remain barriers to coordination for many others.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To enable states and localities to determine whether coordinated service delivery is the most effective method for improving TANF clients' employment success, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services should promote research that would examine the role of coordinated service delivery on outcomes of TANF clients.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor has participated in an HHS experimental design study looking at employment, retention, and advancement in about 15 sites. In addition, Labor has provided funding support to an HHS demonstration study analyzing hard to serve clients. Labor is currently testing and documenting models of coordinated service delivery that result in job advancement for entry-level TANF recipients followed by an employer commitment to backfill the entry-level position with a One-Stop referral.

    Recommendation: To help states more effectively address some of the obstacle to coordination, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services should work together to jointly develop and distribute information on promising approaches for coordinating services for TANF clients through one-stops.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Along with Labor, HHS has completed a series of summit meetings held in major cities around the country to identify best practices for service coordination and other related issues. HHS has an ongoing study (begun in 2002) looking at serving TANF and low-income populations through WIA one-stop centers. Information from this study will be shared with both TANF offices and one-stop centers.

    Recommendation: To help states more effectively address some of the obstacle to coordination, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services should work together to jointly develop and distribute information on promising approaches for coordinating services for TANF clients through one-stops.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor has funded the development of a "promising practices" web site, which includes information on coordination efforts by one-stops. In addition, Labor, in conjunction with HHS, has completed a series of summit meetings held in major cities around the country to identify best practices for service coordination and other related issues.

    Recommendation: To enable states and localities to determine whether coordinated service delivery is the most effective method for improving TANF clients' employment success, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services should promote research that would examine the role of coordinated service delivery on outcomes of TANF clients.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HHS research initiatives, conducted with Labor and independently, have focused on the success of different service models in serving TANF clients. Labor participated in an HHS experimental design study looking at employment, retention, and advancement in about 15 sites. In addition, HHS has supported demonstration studies on hard to serve clients which will analyze outcomes for clients receiving different service models. HHS reports that they will be a source of useful information on successful program designs.

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