Essay on Welfare to Work Grants Program

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As a part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act (BBA), Congress formed the Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Grants program. The principal focus of this program was to give extra resources to supplement welfare reform funds consolidated in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants to states that were approved under the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). Nightingale and Brennan (1998) note that WtW assets were expected to bolster community programs requiring prompt assistance and to help the least employable. These funds were likewise intended to assist noncustodial parents facing unemployment, raise their incomes, and support their kids.

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As a matter of fact, these funds were appropriated by the Congress as a result of the concern that in high-poverty areas, it would be more challenging to realize the employment goals of welfare reforms than in other communities, and those similar groups may, in the end, bear additional budgetary burdens when persons attain their lifetimes limits. The U. S Federal WtW funds were disseminated to state and local grantees by the Department of Labor (DOL) in 1998 and 1999 (Nightingale & Brennan, 1998). At first, grantees were required to spend the assets within three years of their receipt; however, the 1999 amendments delayed the period to five years.

The primary aim of the WtW grants program was to help the unemployed and assist them to obtain jobs that would eventually result in a lasting economic freedom. The Congress acknowledged that some populations and several high-poverty areas would require more investment of funds for a longer period than the typical welfare caseload. Long-term services were promoted to attain economic self-sufficiency. Starting a job, either unsubsidized or subsidized, was taken to be the initial step towards reaching the goal.

Again, WtW resources targeted persons who required exceptional support services such as; long-lasting welfare beneficiaries, substance abusers, high school dropouts, and individuals approaching their TANF period limits. Moreover, WtF programs served noncustodial guardians having serious employment challenges, irrespective of their legal status of child support. The most emphasized aspect of WtW was on jobs as opposed to education and training (Greenberg, Deitch, & Hamilton, 2009). The program encouraged the placement of individuals who were eligible for employment opportunities that would help them in the transition to lasting unsubsidized employments.

The WtW grants program was boosted when Congress approved $3 billion, $1.5 billion in the fiscal year 1998 and 1999 consecutively to aid in the shifting of welfare beneficiaries into employment (Nightingale & Brennan, 1998). It comprised particular provisions regarding how the WtW resources were to be distributed. The funds were distributed through a formulabased and competitive grants means. A quarter of the donation was allocated on a competitive basis as requests were submitted to DOL (Rushefsky, 2013). The remaining three-quarters of the grant were distributed to states according to a formula based on the share of each states proportion of the population living in poverty and the number of adults on welfare.

In the fiscal year 1998 and 1999, a sum of $2.5 billion in WtW grant resources was distributed by DOL. Notably; $2 billion was allocated by the formula method to states, $472 million through competitive grants and $12.8 million through 93 tribal program grantees (Rushefsky, 2013). It is evident that both the competitive and the formula grants target the same persons and therefore, can be used for similar kind of activities. However, they are dissimilar in funding of the programs and also in the type of entities that are authorized to be grantees.

Although TANF was processed at the national level by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), WtW was administered by DOL but still had to be executed within the wider setting of welfare reform. For a state to receive WtW formula funds it had to present an amendment to its TANF strategy to DOL and HHS, giving a detailed explanation of how the resources would be used (Nightingale & Brennan, 1998). The programs funded by the grants were anticipated to compliment TANF programs and services as they occurred in their local communities.

Moreover, WtW was purposed to supplement and complement, but not duplicate TANF programs. The state TANF law passed in 1996 solidified a trend among states to substitute the previous welfare system under the program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) that was centered mainly on benefit entitlements and income transfers, with a work-based approach to temporary public assistance. Reforms in the welfare department have altered the nations social support system regarding focus on employment and other numerous ways that affected how WtW grant-funded projects were initiated.

According to Rushefsky, (2013), states have a considerable flexibility on how they implement TANF, meaning projects and policies that differ considerably across states. The states decide how their TANF grant is used to fund work-related services, cash assistance, and other support services for low-income families with kids. Contrastingly, WtW legislations comprise certain provisions about the persons who are eligible, and funds are particularly reserved for employment services and not for cash assistance payments. The primary targets for WtW funds are the TANF beneficiaries. Nevertheless, they are subject to policies determined by the states. Therefore, WtW programs and participants must recognize the policies (Nightingale & Brennan, 1998).

Regardless of the flexibility states possess, specifications provided by the federal maintain that welfare payments funded by the federal can only be catered for a short period. More precisely, welfare is meant to be a short-term move towards employment. Different from the previous AFDC program, TANF offers short term assistance only. Recipients can receive federally funded cash aid for only 60 months in their life, and shorter time limits can be applied by the state as well (Nightingale & Brennan, 1998). Almost all beneficiaries of TANF program are subject to a period. The imperative intention of time-limited welfare is to make it understandable to recipients and the welfare agencies that persons are expected to do jobs and earn a decent income to support their families. The welfare only serves as a temporary source of help. In nearly all states TANF policies encourage employment search activities and necessitate beneficiaries to find jobs rapidly, as opposed to providing training and education.


Greenberg, D. H., Deitch, V., & Hamilton, G. (2009). Welfare-to-work program benefits and costs: A synthesis of research. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1353354

Nightingale, D. S., & Brennan, K. (1998). The welfare-to-work grants program: A new link in the welfare reform chain. The Urban Institute, 1-8. Retrieved from

Rushefsky, M. E. (2013). Public policy in the united states (5th ed.). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

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