Statewide Evaluation of the CYSA/TANF Program
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California’s Welfare-to-Work Act of 1997 created two new programs, one of which was the Comprehensive Youth Services Act (CYSA). The CYSA, provided county probation departments (CPDs) with federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds to be used to help attain overarching federal TANF goals by providing services to youths and their families. As specified in the CYSA, the intent of the legislation was to allow CPDs to “provide a continuum of family-focused, case-specific services in a community-based setting, that addresses the full spectrum of child and family needs, including services provided in county-operated residential care facilities.” This report is the final document of RAND’s three-year evaluation of the Comprehensive Youth Services Act/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (CYSA/TANF) Program within California. These findings reflect analyses conducted through February 2003, using data from two statewide surveys of probation departments, an 11-county process study, and four county outcome studies. Findings show that overall, counties used CYSA/TANF to fund programs in custody settings (i.e., institutions such as juvenile hall and/or ranches and camps) or spread their CYSA/TANF allocation across programs in multiple categories (from prevention and early intervention to supervision to custody) in order to “provide a continuum of family-focused, case-specific services in a community-based setting, that addresses the full spectrum of child and family needs, including services provided in county-operated residential care facilities.” Counties, in general, had a number of initial services already in-place prior to CYSA/TANF, given efforts statewide beginning before CYSA/TANF to enhance the delivery of services to youths; counties used CYSA/TANF to enhance services in the juvenile halls and camps. County probation staff reported that CYSA/TANF programs positively impacted CYSA/TANF goals, although outcome studies in four counties showed little program impact at the individual youth level. California Probation Departments appear to have followed closely the planning guidelines laid out in the CYSA.