Measuring the Success of DC’s Welfare Re-Design, What DCFPI Would Like to Know about How Things Are Going

Good morning, District Dime readers.  We hope you had a nice MLK, Jr. weekend. 

As you know, one of DCFPI’s wishes for 2012 is that the District fully implement its re-designed TANF program to help more families with children prepare for work and find jobs with good wages and benefits.  Today’s column highlights the indicators of progress we hope the District will measure and share on this new endeavor.  Given Dr. King’s focus on economic rights ‘ the need to give poor families the tools to succeed ‘ in addition to civil rights, this topic is especially relevant today. 

The District’s re-designed TANF program aims to do a better job identifying the barriers to work faced by DC’s families, and then provide a set of services tailored to the each family’s needs.  In return, all families will be expected to make progress on their “Individual Responsibility Plan.” 

So, how will we know how things are going?  The District’s Department of Human Services can let us know by sharing information in a timely way on different aspects of the new effort.  Some of the indicators are outputs ‘ such as the number of families assessed and referred to new services.  Later on, it will be good to get information on outcomes ‘ such as the number of parents completing training and getting jobs. 

 Here are some key indicators: 

  • Number of families assessed and referred to services:  The starting point for the new program is a thorough assessment of every family’s strengths and employment barriers.  No one will be referred to new services before going through an assessment.  So it will be critical to know how many TANF families are being assessed and referred, on at least a quarterly basis. 
  • Major types of needs identified:  How many TANF families are ready to look for work, how many need education or training, and how many have other barriers, such as mental illness?  Knowing the needs of DC’s TANF families is critical to designing an effective welfare-to-work program. 
  • What kinds of services are families getting?  The District should provide information on the number of families referred to specific service providers, to get a sense of how the re-design is playing out on the ground level. 
  • Are families getting jobs?  What kind?  Ultimately, the success of welfare reform will be measured by the number of parents who successfully move to work and keep their jobs.  Knowing how many parents find work ‘ and the wages, hours, and fringe benefits of those jobs ‘ is critical. 

This would be a great start. We look forward to learning more from the District on the success of its TANF re-design.