Welfare Reform:

Status of Awards and Selected States' Use of Welfare-to-Work Grants

HEHS-99-40: Published: Feb 5, 1999. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about: (1) welfare-to-work formula and competitive grants awarded to, or declined by, states for fiscal year (FY) 1998; (2) how selected grantees are planning to use these funds; and (3) how selected grantees plan to meet welfare-to-work requirements to better integrate the states' workforce development services with other human services for welfare recipients.

GAO noted that: (1) The Department of Labor (DOL) awarded formula grants to 44 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands with welfare-to-work funding available for FY 1998, and, as of November 20, 1998, it had awarded competitive grants to 126 organizations with combined welfare-to-work funding available for fiscal years 1998 and 1999; (2) six states--Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming--did not participate in the welfare-to-work formula grant program; (3) these states, which would have received a total of about $71 million, chose not to participate for various reasons, including concerns about their ability to provide state matching funds; (4) Arizona was the only state that applied for formula grant funds but did not pledge sufficient matching funds to receive its maximum federal allocation; (5) the competitive grant funds Labor awarded represented all welfare-to-work funds available for FY 1998 and about a third of the FY 1999 funds; (6) most states had at least one local service organization that received competitive grant funds; (7) three of the six states GAO reviewed--Massachusetts, Michigan, and Wisconsin--outlined very specific uses for formula funds, while plans for the other three states--Arizona, California, and New York--indicated that the use of these funds would be determined by the local service delivery areas; (8) Michigan's and Wisconsin's plans emphasized assistance to unemployed noncustodial parents--these parents, mostly fathers, often have child support payments in arrears and dependents who are receiving welfare cash assistance; (9) Massachusetts focused on serving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients who are reaching their time limits on cash assistance; (10) in contrast, California's plan did not emphasize a specific welfare-to-work service strategy because state officials believed that no one service strategy could be applied effectively throughout the state; (11) similarly, Arizona and New York allowed local service delivery areas to decide on strategies for using formula grant funds; (12) state and local officials in the six states GAO reviewed noted that a stronger partnership was developing between the workforce development agencies and other human service agencies assisting welfare recipients, in part because of their joint involvement in the welfare-to-work planning process; and (13) the welfare-to-work competitive grantees also coordinated their plans with state and local officials.

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