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In this article we document trends in welfare caseloads and some initial experiences of service providers and welfare recipients on reservations within Arizona under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). We document the issues and concerns of state and tribal service providers as they implement the legislation on reservations that are often geographically isolated and which lack infrastructure, jobs, childcare and transportation.

We also record experiences of women with children on reservations with the 1996 federal welfare legislation. These families experience similar barriers when trying to move from welfare to work as do their counterparts across the country; however, these barriers are magnified on reservations. The welfare recipients’ barriers include: a shortage of employment opportunities on reservations; a lack of transportation and childcare facilities; low levels of education and job experience; and, individual and family problems. Poor families in Indian communities face additional barriers to employment because of their geographic isolation, lack of access to basic necessities (like telephones), as well as stereotypes and discrimination by employers due to ethnicity or personal/family histories.

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