Through the Tribal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (Tribal TANF) program, federally-recognized Tribes and Alaska Native villages aim to ameliorate poverty through immediate cash assistance to families as well as services such as job preparation, life skills, and relationship education to boost long-term self-sufficiency. While the Tribal TANF system focuses on economic wellbeing, contact between Tribal TANF workers and families with children may provide an opportunity to monitor the overall wellbeing of families and any risks to child safety. Recognizing the potential benefits of coordination between Tribal TANF and Child Welfare (CW) agencies, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has awarded over 30 demonstration grants for innovative projects to coordinate Tribal TANF and CW services. An expressed goal of this grant program is to prevent child abuse and neglect.
To understand the potential impact of this policy, ACF contracted with James Bell Associates (JBA) 2011 to conduct a descriptive study of the implementation of 14 demonstration projects from one cohort. The purposes of the study are to understand the services grantees provide to families, the characteristics and extent of collaboration and service coordination between TANF and CW, and facilitators and barriers to collaboration. This study includes three rounds of data collection across the grant period through interviews and observations on site visits, document reviews, and regularly occurring phone and email check-ins. Results from the first two rounds suggest that most grantees made substantial progress in coordinating across TANF and CW informally through shared trainings, joint meetings, and information sharing. Grantees identified the creation of formal coordinator positions and trust between the agencies as fundamental to success. Grantees’ experiences at the time of the final round of data collection are being analyzed.
The proposed presentation will summarize this descriptive study and highlight the findings that may have implications for policy and practice, including the strengths and challenges of implementing these TANF-CW coordination projects and their potential to help prevent or reduce child maltreatment among AI/AN communities.