Celebrating Success with Native Family Assistance Programs

Submitted by Clay Butcher on July 7, 2005 - 8:53am

In April, Alaska’s Legislature passed Senate Bill 51 (SB51) reauthorizing the Native Family Assistance Program. In passing this bill, the Legislature gave special recognition to AVCP, TCC, and T&H for their great success in operating NFAPs and for support in helping Native families leave welfare for employment and self-sufficiency. Recognition was also given to our Native partners providing welfare-to-work services in other regions of Alaska.

SB 51 makes the NFAPs permanent in state law, allowing AVCP, TCC, & T&H to continue to operate their NFAPs and to receive state funds through Native Family Assistance grants to support them. SB51 also expands the availability of Native Family Assistance grants to the 12 Alaska regional Native non-profit organizations and Metlakatla Indian Community, the same Alaska Native organizations authorized under federal law to run Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs.

In conjunction with our work on SB51, we have been working with Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) to implement their Native Family Assistance Program, and the use of EIS to support them. CITC will be the largest NFAP in Alaska, serving approximately 720 families per month. CITC is also the first Native organization using EIS for its NFAP. A number of EIS programming changes have been completed to support this new way of doing business. Much appreciation goes to all DPA and Child Support Services staff for their great work in supporting this effort. An event with Commissioner Gilbertson and the Native organizations is scheduled to occur in Anchorage on July 22, 2005, celebrating the success and reauthorization of the Native Family Assistance Program, as well as CITC’s start-up.

Effective July 1, 2005, CITC will begin accepting applications and determining eligibility for new applicants. Alaska Native and American Indian ATAP families who are currently living in the Municipality of Anchorage will have their cases transferred to CITC over the next 3 months (July - Sept.). DPA staff will be out stationed at CITC to perform intake and case maintenance services for families who are also eligible for Food Stamps or Medicaid, and to provide technical assistance to CITC staff.

In the next year you will hear about the development of additional Native Family Assistance Programs. Bristol Bay Native Association and Maniilaq Association have submitted letters of interest and have started their planning process to run NFAPs. DPA and TCC are also partnering on developing a demonstration project that would allow TCC to determine eligibility and issue Food Stamps for TCC's NFAP families.

As we have successfully completed the pilot project phase of NFAP, Policy & Program Development staff have created a NFAP guide to document information about these programs. The Native Family Assistance Program guide is attached as a PDF file and will be posted soon as an on-line manual on the DPA website.

Field Services is working on changes to the Administrative Procedures manual to incorporate the practices associated with coordinating service delivery with NFAPs: processing joint applications, information exchange, case transfers, etc. Additional policy clarifications will be included in the September 2005 updates to the program policy manuals.

Please contact the Policy & Program Development Team at DPAPOLICY@health.state.ak.us DPAPOLICY@health.state.ak.us if you have any questions about this message, or the information included in the NFAP guide.