Supporting Cross-Program Integration: Some Recommendations for Federal Policy and Practice

The 1996 welfare law afforded new opportunities for states to deliver coordinated services through greater cross-program integration. The experience heightened the interest of many states and localities in initiating new efforts to integrate programs designed to assist lowincome individuals and families.

There are, however, many challenges to service integration. Narrow and restrictive federal funding and regulatory structures are frequently identified as key challenges. Yet there is no common understanding of the extent to which federal funding silos, different eligibility and reporting requirements, and conflicting regulations actually impede serving families in a comprehensive, integrated manner.

The lack of common understanding became evident during consideration of the expanded waiver authority— which came to be known as the superwaiver—included in the Bush Administration’s 2002 proposal to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. As the superwaiver was debated, it became apparent that it was difficult to carry out a conversation about federal barriers without reviewing the extent to which federal requirements impaired states’ ability to implement integration initiatives. It also became apparent that a broader discussion of how federal law and agencies might support program integration efforts ran the risk of getting sidetracked by disputes about the superwaiver.

To learn more, read this brief by Mark Greenberg and Jennifer L. Noyes.