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Local Implementation of TANF: A Description of Current Practices / Later Changes Following the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, 2005-2006

Project Overview

This project examined how the local management of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs has evolved and adapted practices in the years following the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Special attention was given to changes in (1) methods aimed at improving performance, tracking and measuring outcomes, (2) coordination between welfare and workforce development agencies, and (3) other efforts to improve program results and address changing needs.

Research Design: Data for this project was obtained from visits to five local TANF offices, defined as locations that provide services for the work-eligible population, including those receiving non-assistance as well as assistance. These observations were compared and contrasted to data collected from the same sites at an early point during TANF implementation.

Major Research Questions: Have the services offered changed over time? What was the reason(s) for the change (e.g., fiscal constraints)? How were changes implemented? Have overarching program goals changed over time? If so, were changes locally driven or determined at a higher level of government? If decision-making has occurred at the state level, how have local offices operationalized the new program or policy goals? Have the methods for tracking local office goals and performance changed? What data is available at the local level to help managers and other staff track performance and adapt the program, if necessary?

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