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Welfare reform and American Indian tribes: Critical decisions for the future of Indian families

Date Added to Library: 
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 10:27
Individual Author: 
Kauffman, Jo Ann
Reference Type: 
Research Methodology: 
Place Published: 
Education Resources Information Center
Published Date: 
Published Date (Date): 
Tuesday, April 2, 2002

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRETORIA) gives American Indian tribes the option to run their own Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program or leave these services under state administration. Eight case studies were conducted in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Arizona with the Klamath Tribes, Siletz Tribe, Warm Springs Confederated Tribes, Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of the Mohican Indians, Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, Oneida Nation, White Mountain Apache, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Document reviews and interviews with tribal and state officials and TANF participants provided data on coordination with the state, training and technical assistance, program design, impact of TANF on the tribe, and tribal views of TANF strengths and weaknesses. Six tribes designed and administered their own TANF program, one tribe left TANF entirely up to the state, and one tribe is serving as a contractor for the state's welfare reform program. Most tribal plans mirrored state plans but were flexible as to time limits and work hours and expanded the definition of work activities to include education. Tribal and state relationships were key to successful efforts; assuring access to medical assistance and food stamps was not always a priority; developing new job opportunities was challenging; and unmet needs persisted for alcohol, drug, and mental health treatment. Lessons learned include TANF affected tribes regardless of whether they administered programs; restructuring tribal programs benefitted clients; welfare reform is about work and community support; there was no one model for a TANF effort; medical assistance and food stamps need to be coordinated with TANF; and coordination between tribes and states is critical. Three appendices present methodology, interviewees, and acronyms. (author abstract)

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