Examines using TANF funds to subsidize youth employment, with the goal of reducing youth unemployment and providing youth with essential soft skills experience.
“The [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009] invested in opportunities for local areas to operate summer youth employment programs primarily through [Workforce Investment Act (WIA)] youth funding in 2009 and the [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF Emergency Fund)] in 2010. In 2009, the Recovery Act invested $1.2 billion in the WIA youth program” (p.xiii) Local workforce investment areas were encouraged “to use these funds to subsidize summer employment opportunities for youth in summer 2009. Although the act itself did not specify a particular use for the funds, which remained available until June 30, 2011, it did extend eligibility to youth up to 24 years of age and specified that states measure participants’ achievement of work readiness goals” (p.xiii). “To understand how the TANF Emergency Fund was used in support of summer youth employment… this study describes the implementation of the 2010 [subsidized youth employment initiative (SYEI)] in 10 sites in seven states. Although the study was not intended to produce findings that would be nationally representative, it provides useful insights into how the TANF and workforce agencies planned and implemented their SYEIs, how the use of the TANF Emergency Fund affected their programs, and what youth experienced during the summer months” (p. xiii). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

A few key findings have been drawn from the four research topics explored: “(1) The workforce and TANF agency partnerships developed in planning and implementation; (2) design approaches, in particular those affected by the use of the TANF Emergency Fund; (3) youths’ reasons for participating and their experiences in the summer program; [and] (4) lessons and noteworthy practices drawn from states’ and sites’ experiences” (p. xiv). • The benefit of agency partnerships includes “educating agencies and customers. The 2010 SYEI exposed the workforce system to the TANF population, a population that the workforce system might not have had much experience serving. In addition, TANF youth were exposed to the range of workforce services available to them” (p. xvi). • Regarding design approaches, the study indicates that “although sites generally modeled their 2010 programs on their experiences providing summer youth employment opportunities in the previous summer, sites’ reliance on TANF funds affected key aspects of the program. These aspects included the use of different funding streams, the enrollment of SYEI participants in the regular WIA Youth formula program, youth eligibility and recruitment, participation of public and private work sites, and reporting on work readiness measures” (p. xvi). • The study shows that “sites focused on identifying enough work sites to meet the expected number of participants, often without consideration of the industry. Common work sites included manufacturing facilities, restaurants, retail stores, summer camps, and public administration buildings” (p. xix). • Lessons learned from the study include, “ communities should consider and explore avenues to develop and sustain future, more long-lasting partnerships that can combine the resources of TANF and workforce agencies and other organizations with the expertise of the workforce agencies in providing youth with valuable summer experiences” (p. xx). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff).