Tribal Solutions: Subsidized Employment Programs Serving American Indians and Alaska Natives

Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Tribal Solutions: Subsidized Employment Programs Serving American Indians and Alaska Natives Cover

Download Report

Download Report PDF (2,737.68 KB)
  • File Size: 2,737.68 KB
  • Pages: N/A
  • Published: 2018


Research Questions

  1. How do Tribal TANF programs use subsidized employment to engage TANF recipients in work activities?
  2. What challenges do Tribal TANF programs face in implementing subsidized employment programs?
  3. How do the approaches to subsidized employment taken by some Tribal TANF programs differ from other subsidized employment models used to serve low-income people?

People served by public assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) often have difficulty finding jobs in the competitive labor market. This report describes the ways in which eight TANF programs primarily serving American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) families use subsidized employment. Subsidized employment programs rely on public funds to subsidize the wages that employers pay when they provide jobs to individuals who cannot find them in the competitive labor market. It can be used to create jobs in areas where there are more people interested in work than there are available jobs. It can also help individuals with barriers to employment gain work experience while earning income.


The unemployment rate for AI/AN individuals is consistently higher than for any other racial group in the United States, and many AI/AN communities face substantial barriers to employment. To address these barriers, some Tribal TANF programs have implemented subsidized employment programs designed to increase both participants’ income and their employability. This report highlights strategies that these programs have used and the contexts in which they operate.

Key Findings and Highlights

Key findings include the following:

  • Subsidized employment provides work opportunities for individuals in AI/AN families with limited work experience and barriers to employment. Tribal and state TANF programs are using an array of strategies to engage AI/AN families in subsidized employment. Along with income, these positions provide opportunities to build work experience, job skills, and marketability in the competitive labor market.
  • The local and economic context of the service area influences the approach state and Tribal TANF programs take in implementing subsidized employment. In areas with more limited job availability, subsidized employment functions as an opportunity to provide TANF participants with a temporary job that may also benefit the local community. However, the broader limitations of the local economy minimize opportunities for their transition to unsubsidized employment. When the local economy is larger and more diverse, programs place a heavier emphasis on positions that can lead to unsubsidized employment.


People served by the programs described in this report represent a range of regional, geographic, economic, and cultural diversity. However, they are not representative of the diversity of TANF programs serving AI/AN families across the country. Instead, they were recommended to the research team by regional staff from the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Family Assistance as examples of active subsidized employment programs serving tribal people.

The research team contacted administrators at the recommended programs, and the staff members of programs described in this report participated in phone interviews. The research team also conducted site visits to two of the programs.


Glosser, Asaph, and Emily Ellis. (2018). Tribal Solutions: Subsidized Employment Programs Serving American Indians and Alaska Natives. OPRE Report 2018-94. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last Reviewed Date: