Indian Tribes and Welfare Reform

CRS Report for Congress
Indian Tribes and Welfare Reform
Vee Burke
Domestic Social Policy Division
The 1996 welfare law (P.L. 104-193) gives federally recognized Indian tribes
(defined to include certain Alaska Native organizations) the option to design and operate
their own cash welfare programs for needy children with funds subtracted from their
state’s block grant for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). As of
September 15, 2004, 45 tribal TANF plans were in operation in 16 states. Their annual
rate of federal funding totaled $134.2 million. The 1996 law also appropriated $7.6
million annually for work and training activities to tribes in 24 states that operated a pre-
TANF work and training program (now named Native Employment Works — NEW),
authorized direct federal funding to Indian tribes for operation of child support
enforcement programs, and set aside a share of child care funds for them. The original
TANF law was scheduled to expire September 30, 2002, but Congress extended
funding through several laws, most recently through September 30, 2004. Pending are
two major TANF reauthorization bills: H.R. 4, as passed by the House, and H.R. 4, as
approved by the Senate Finance Committee. Both bills would renew tribal TANF grants
through FY2008 and make tribal organizations eligible for new marriage promotion
grants. In addition, the Senate Committee bill would authorize some new funding (tribal
improvement fund). This report will be updated for significant developments.
Before enactment of TANF, American Indians or Alaska Natives (Indians, Inuit
[Eskimos], or Aleuts) received family cash welfare on the same terms as other families
in their state, with benefits and income eligibility rules of the program of Aid to Families
with Dependent Children (AFDC) set by the state and costs shared by the state. The law
had no provision for administration of cash aid by tribes. However, some Wisconsin
tribes subcontracted with the state to provide AFDC independently on their reservations.
In FY1994, 1.3% of the national AFDC caseload (about 68,000 families) were American
Indians and Alaska Natives. In addition, more than 65,000 needy Indians who were not
in categories eligible for AFDC received cash aid based on their state’s AFDC benefit
standards, but paid by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Under pre-TANF law, more
than 80 tribes and tribal organizations exercised an option to run their own work and
training programs, called Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) programs,
with 100% federal funds.

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Under TANF, which provides fixed annual state grants through FY2002, numerous
Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages in 16 states (see Table 1) are operating their own
tribal family assistance programs. Tribes that operated their own JOBS program also
receive annual appropriations under TANF law of $7.6 million (their FY1984 funding
for JOBS) for work and training activities (renamed Native Employment Works —
NEW). Finally, $28.6 million in Welfare-to-Work (WtW) grants was awarded for
FY1998 and 1999 by the Labor Department to Indian and Native American tribal
governments (86 grantees in FY1998, 91 in FY1999). Standard TANF work participation
rates and time limit rules do not apply to tribal assistance programs. Their rules are set
by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary with tribal participation.
Tribal Assistance Programs
Eligible for tribal assistance grants are the more than 330 federally recognized tribes
in the contiguous 48 states and 13 Alaska entities. As of September 15, 2004, 45 tribal
TANF grants were approved for 230 tribes plus some non-reservation Indians in Alaska,
Arizona, California, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico,
Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Annual
federal funding, deducted from the basic TANF grant of their state(s), totals $134.2
million (for funding by tribal plan, see Table 1). Grantees estimated their monthly
caseload at 33,510 families. According to the fifth annual TANF report, the average
number of Indian families served by state governments under regular TANF programs
was about 35,000 in FY2000, down 50% from the corresponding FY1996 figure (a part
of the decline represented persons who moved from the regular state program to a tribal
program). Some features of tribal programs follow.
!Recognized tribes and tribal organizations may operate family assistance
programs in their service areas. A tribe’s TANF grant equals federal
AFDC payments to the state for FY1994 attributable to Indians in its
service area; the tribal grant is subtracted from the state’s TANF grant.
!Tribal TANF plans are for three years (rather than 2, as for states) and
contain many fewer required elements than state plans. However, regular
TANF data collection and reporting rules apply to tribal plans.
!The HHS Secretary, with participation of the tribe, establishes work
participation rules, time limits for benefits, and penalties for each tribal
family assistance program. In general, Indian tribes in Alaska must
operate plans in accordance with rules adopted by the state for TANF.
(The National Congress of American Indians has asked for removal of
this provision, and for the restrictive definition immediately below,
saying that it wants Alaskan tribes to be treated like other tribes.)
!TANF law generally defines an Indian tribe as in Section 4 of the Indian
Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, but it specifies that
an “eligible Indian tribe” in Alaska means one of 12 specified regional
nonprofit corporations plus a reservation.
!Tribal TANF regulations permit 35% of a tribal grant to be used for
administrative costs in the first year, 30% in the second year, and 25%
thereafter. State TANF programs, however, generally may spent no more
than 15% of their grants on administration.

!The state governor must certify equitable access from the TANF program
to Indians not eligible for help from a tribal family assistance plan.
!The law gives explicit permission for state TANF programs to use money
from the TANF loan fund for aid to Indian families that have moved out
of the service area of a tribe with a tribal family assistance plan.
!A special rule exempts from the 60-month TANF benefit time limit any
month in which the recipient lives in Indian country or an Alaskan native
village with an adult unemployment rate of at least 50%.
!The law makes tribes eligible for TANF loans, but not for bonuses
offered to states for high performance or for cutting non-marital births.
!HHS has ruled that state funds contributed to an approved tribal
assistance plan may be counted toward the spending level (maintenance-
of-effort) that a state must achieve to qualify for a full TANF grant.
! A 1999 amendment permits tribes, like states, to reserve TANF grants
for assistance (ongoing needs and supportive services for the
unemployed) in any future year. Since July 1, 2001, tribes also have been
allowed to reserve unobligated NEW funds for assistance in any future
Pending Legislation
The House-passed TANF reauthorization bill (H.R. 4) and the Senate Finance
Committee substitute version of H.R. 4 (PRIDE) renew tribal grants at their current level
and make Indian tribal organizations eligible for proposed marriage promotion grants and
the proposed employment achievement bonus. Both bills require tribal family assistance
plans to provide assurance that tribes have consulted with their state(s) regarding the
plan’s design. The Senate Committee bill also authorizes appropriation of $100 million
annually for five years for a tribal TANF improvement fund, which could be used to
provide technical assistance to tribes, fund competitive grants, and conduct research.
The American Indian Welfare Reform Act (S. 751 /H.R. 2770) proposes many changes.
They include federal payments to states that contribute (with TANF MOE funds) to costs
of Indian tribal assistance programs, increased tribal funding from the Child Care and
Development Block Grant (CCDBG), authority for tribes to receive federal funds for
foster care and adoption assistance, and (on a demonstration basis) to determine eligibility
for food stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP.
Child Care and Child Support
The 1996 law reserves between 1% and 2% of its child care funds for payments to
Indian tribes and tribal organizations, to be subtracted from national totals. Previously no
AFDC-related child care funds were earmarked for Indians. In FY2002, $96 million was
allocated to tribes, 2% each of mandatory and discretionary funds. (Discretionary funds
are provided under the Child Care and Development Block Grant [CCDBG].) The law
also allows Indian tribes, subject to HHS approval, to use CCDBG funds for construction.
The 1996 welfare law authorizes direct federal funding for child support operations to
Indian tribes (and, again, Alaska Native organizations) with approved child support plans.
By regulation, tribes receive 90% federal funding for the first three years, 80% for later
years. As of March, 2004, 9 tribes received direct federal funding and handled more than

21,000 cases. Final regulations replaced interim rules in March.

Characteristics of Tribal TANF Plans
Data compiled by the Division of Tribal Services show that most tribal TANF plans
have adopted the 60-month lifetime time limit for federally funded TANF to an adult.
The two Oregon tribes (Klamath tribes and Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians) adopted
a limit of 24 months within an 84-month period (similar to Oregon state plan limit).
Work activities shown in most tribal plans are the same as those specified in TANF law,
but several tribes make additions. Thus, two Washington tribes list as additional work
activities: “teaching cultural activities” and “barrier removal, including counseling, and
chemical dependency treatment.” The Tanana Chiefs Conference, in Alaska, includes as
work activities “approved subsistence hunting, fishing, gathering.” Most two tribal plans
limit the “service population” to Indians. However, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior
Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin says it will serve all families, including non-Indians, on
the reservation (and tribal member families in Bayfield County); and the White Mountain
Apache Tribe in Arizona also says it will serve all families on the reservation. The
Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe serves only one-parent families with its tribal plan; its 2-
parent families are aided by BIA’s General Assistance program.
Table 1 shows that most of the tribal TANF plans have set work participation rates
below the all-family rate of 50% and the 2-parent family rate of 90% specified for state
TANF programs in FY2002. The table also shows that 36 of the 45 tribal grantees
(including the Navajo Nation in Arizona and Utah) receive state funds — claimed as
TANF MOE amounts — to help pay for their programs. The tribes that do not receive
state funding are located in Wisconsin (8 tribes), South Dakota (1 tribe) and New Mexico
(part of the Navajo Nation).
Table 1. TANF Grants for Tribal Family Assistance Programs
(as of September 15, 2004) and Their Work Rules
Work RulesState
StartTANF grantfundsWeekly
Tribedate?Participation ratehours
1. Forest County Potawatomia7/1/97$115,79350%30No
Community, Wisconsin
b(all) 20b
2. Klamath Tribe, Oregon7/1/97464,259 (all) 30%(2-parent) 50%b(2-parent) 25bYes
3. Confederated Tribe of Siletz10/1/97661,625(all) 25%bb20bYes
Indians, Oregon(2-parent) 40%
4. Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior10/1/97347,12050%30No
Chippewa Indians, Wisconsin
5. Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe,a10/1/97613,868(1-parent) 25%b(1-parent) 25bNo
South Dakota
6. Sokaogon Chippewa Community,a10/1/9777,19550%30No
Mole Lake Band, Wisconsin
7. Stockbridge-Munsee Band of10/1/97143,12250%30No
Mohican Indians, Wisconsin
c (1-parent) 25c
8. Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Arizonaa11/1/971,729,965(1-parent) 30%(2-parent) 60%c(2-parent) 35cYes
9. Southern California Tribal3/1/98(1-parent) 35%c(1-parent) 30c
Chairmens Association, Calif. — 18enlarged3,653,904(2-parent) 50%c(2-parent) 35cYes

tribe consortium 5/1/99

Work RulesState
StartTANF grantfundsWeekly
Tribedate?Participation ratehours
10. White Mountain Apache Tribe,4/1/981,914,66925%16cYes
Ar i z o n a
b(all) 20
11. Osage Tribe of Oklahoma5/4/98419,328(all) 30%(2-parent) 65%b(2-parent) 35No
12. Northern Arapaho Tribe, Winda7/1/981,640,45825%b30bYes
River Reservation, Wyoming
13. Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe,10/1/98516,58025%c20cYes
W a shi ngt o n
14. Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe,10/1/98501,34325%c20cYes
W a shi ngt o n
15. Tanana Chiefs Conference,a10/1/982,443,97335%c30cYes
Alaska (37 village consortium)
16. Nez Perce Tribe, Idahoa1/1/99504,99030%20Yes
(1-parent) 25
17. Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwea1/1/99823,539(1-parent) 40%(2-parent) 30Yes
Tribe, Minnesota(2-parent) 55%(50 in combined
ho ur s)
18. Confederated Salish anda1/1/ 991,599,22420%c30cYes
Kootenai Tribes, Montana
19. Salt River Pima Maricopaa6/1/99710,340(1-parent) 25%cc(1-parent) 20ccYes
Indian Community, Arizona(2-parent) 25%(2-parent) 40
20. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the7/1/99858,781(1-parent) 30%20Yes
Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho(2-parent) 45%
21. Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake1/01/00610,12435%(1-parent) 30No
Superior Chippewa, Wisconsin(2-parent) 40
22. Central Council of Tlingit anda7/1/002,367,15035%25Yes
Haida Indians of Alaska,
23. Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idahoa7/1/00161,719(all) 5%(2-parent) 40%20No
24. Eastern Shoshone Tribe of thea10/1/001,640,45815%15No
Wind River Reservation, Wyoming
25. Fort Belknap Community10/1/00958,01215%20 Yes
Council, Montana
26. Association of Village Councila10/1/005,420,84125%25Yes
Presidents, Inc., Alaska
27. Navajo Nation, Arizona, Newa10/1/00(1/1/0131,174,02615%20Yesexcep
Mexico, and Utah in NM) t NM
28. Hopi Tribe, Arizona4/1/01628,740 (all) 15% (2-parent) 20% (All) 16(2-parent) 25Yes
29. Pueblo of Zuni, New Mexicoa4/1/01801,389(1-parent) 5%(2-parent) 10%10Yes
30. Winnebago Tribe, Nebraskaa4/1/01259,197(1-parent) 15%(2-parent) 20%(1-parent) 20(2-parent) 40Yes
31. Quinalt Indian Nation (QIN),4/1/011,695,13520% 20Yes
W a shi ngt o n
32. Quileute Tribe, Washington 25%(1-parent) 25(2-parent) 30 for
(service population includes some5/1/01749,462first parent; 20Yes

members of the Hoh Tribe)for second

Work RulesState
StartTANF grantfundsWeekly
Tribedate?Participation ratehours
33. Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla5/1/01
Indians, California, enlarged — 921, 854,626 30%30Yes
tribes and some non-reservationenlarged
Indians 11/1/01
34. Owens Valley Career6/1/01
Development Center, California, —14,861,30825%20Yes
8 tribes plus some non-reservationenlarged
Indians 1 2 /l/0 1
35. Confederated Tribes of Colville11/01/013,396,96525%20Yes
Reservation, Washington
36. Bad River Band of the Lake(1-parent) 20
Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians,1/1/02291,84825%(2-parent) 35No
W i sc o nsin
37. Washoe Tribe of Nevada and
California, 2 tribes plus some non-1/1/034,420,54420%24Yes
reservation Indians
38. Spokane Tribe of Indians,3/1/038,403,22920%(1-parent) 20Yes
Washington(2-parent) 30
39. Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin3/1/03835,92425% (2004)30% (2005) 32 (2004) 40 (2005) No
40. California tribal TANF24 (2004)
Partnership (19 tribes plus non-7/1/031,362,19125%30 (2005).Yes
reservation Indians)
41. North Fork, California10/1/03787,88215% (2004)20% (2005).24 (2004)26 (2005)Yes
42. Menominee Indian Tribe of4/1/041,212,23920% (2004-05)22% (2006)(1-parent) 25No
Wisconsin25% (2007)(2-Parent) 30
43. South Puget Inter-tribal Planning9/1/044,743,96215% (2004-05)25% (2006)(1-parent) 20Yes
Agency, Washington (3 tribes)30% (2007)(2-parent) 30
44. Hoopa Valley Tribe, California10/1/041,212,23920% (2005)25% (2006)(1-parent) 18-24ddYes
(some non-reservation Indians)30% (2007)(2-parent) 20-28
45. Chippewa Cree Tribe of the9/1/041,292,28915% (2004-05)25% (2006)(all) 20-24Yes
Rocky Boys Reservation (Montana)30% (2007)
Total TANF grants$134,156,751
a. These tribes also receive federal funds for the Native Employment Works (NEW) employment and training program.
b. For FY2000
c. For FY2001
d. Increased progressively over the three years 2005-07.