Elevating Family Input in TANF and Child Support Programs: Resources for Program Staff, Leaders, and Families

Elevating Family Input in TANF and Child Support Programs: Resources for Program Staff, Leaders, and Families

OPRE Brief 2023-024
Published: Mar 23, 2023
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Key Findings
  • These resources are designed to encourage and make it easier for TANF and child support program staff and leaders to actively seek and hear the opinions and perspectives of families they have served, are currently serving, or could serve in the future as they improve their services, processes, operations, service delivery, program spaces, or policies.
  • To ensure these resources are valuable, relevant, and actionable for TANF and child support programs, the study team will partner with eight TANF and child support programs to pilot test them between 2023 and 2024. The study team will use the experiences and feedback from the pilot sites to revise these resources and expects to share an updated, final version in 2025.
Family Input Resources Report Cover

This expansive toolkit provides guidance, real world examples, and resources to help Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child support programs engage the families they serve in improving service delivery, policy, and program operations.

Program leaders and staff using these resources should consider what they want to learn about engaging families in the program improvement process, then navigate to the section that best aligns with their starting point and goals. Many of these resources are designed to stand alone, so you likely do not need to read everything. Alternatively, readers may download the full toolkit of resources above.

Human services programs and the communities they serve are diverse, so we encourage you to adapt these resources for your specific community and program context.

  • Navigation Tips — These tips can help you quickly find relevant information, based on your program or role.
  • What Do We Mean By Program Improvement? (Section 2) — This section will help you gain a better understanding of program or continuous improvement processes.
  • Why Engage Families in Your Program Improvement Efforts? (Section 3) — This section will help you make the case for gathering input from families to improve your program.
  • An Overview of Family Engagement in Program Improvement (Section 4) — This section explains what family engagement looks like in program improvement.
  • Building and Maintaining Trust with Families (Section 5) — This section explains how to restore, build, or maintain trust with the families you engage.
  • Preparing for Change (Section 6) — This section describes how to get your program ready to include families in program improvement
  • Getting Started on Gathering and Using Family Input (Section 7) — This section is targeted for those who are new to gathering family input for program improvement and are not sure where to start.
  • Integrating Family Input Throughout Program Improvement (Section 8) — This section is targeted for those who already gather input from families but want to formalize or deepen how you engage families.
  • Sharing Power with Families to Drive Continuous Improvement (Section 9) — This section is targeted for those who want to start to share decision-making power with the families you engage in program improvement.
  • Family Input Toolbox (Section 10) — This section lists tools and resources that can help you plan for, collect, and incorporate feedback from families in program improvement. All of the tools, resources, guides, and more that are referenced in Sections 2 — 9 are listed here.

To develop these resources, the study team convened an Expert Workgroup consisting of members with diverse identities and experiences, including TANF, Tribal TANF, and child support program staff and people currently or previously served by those programs. Together, the study team and Expert Workgroup conceptualized and developed these resources. These resources were also informed by the study team’s prior knowledge development activities, including a targeted literature scan of academic and non-academic literature and consultations with TANF, Tribal TANF, child support, and human services program leaders.

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