Category A: Competitive
Area of Science: Behavioral and Social Sciences

Project Title: Welfare Reform on the Reservation

Team Members:
LyValene Begay
Wes Beletso
Melissa Cadman
Nedlaya Francisco
Leona Largo
    Sponsoring Teachers
    Lisa Lucero
    Project Advisors
    Joseph Corrales

Project Abtract:
Interim Report:


The purpose of our project was to compare and analyze statistics of Navajos who received welfare benefits in the past few years. Welfare is a big problem on the Navajo reservation. The project was to look at the statistics of the Navajo people on welfare. The Navajo clients make up about 70 percent of San Juan County's total welfare recipients. Of those statistics, 57% of the Navajos live on the reservation. Our plan was to gather and compare data of Navajo people who have received welfare benefits in the past to the amount of people who are currently receiving welfare benefits. Our team has tried to come up with several possible solutions that will help the Navajo people adjust to the TANF program. We tried to create a program written in C++ that will predict the statistics of how many Navajo people will be receiving the TANF benefits in the next five years (the years TANF will be phased out).

The problem we are investigating is how the welfare reform act will affect the current Navajo welfare recipients on the reservation. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families is a Program designed to move people off the welfare into the work force. However, there are a few requirements to stay in the program, they are volunteering, and work participation for 24 hours per week. According to TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) welfare recipients have a 5-year span in which they will receive welfare. Recipients living on the reservation will be highly affected, they will have a hard time meeting these TANF requirements. The recipients will have to find other means of obtaining income once the TANF benefits run out.

We began our project by starting research on the Welfare Reform and how it will affect the Navajo people on the Navajo Reservation. We first started research by looking through the websites that had information about welfare. After we found some information we then decided about how our program would be designed. Our project mentor, Joe Corrales, the county director for San Juan County Income Support Division, gave us information about the welfare process and how it will affect the Navajo people. He gave us information about the TANF program, which is a welfare program that will help people on welfare receive jobs and become able to support themselves. He also gave us statistical information about welfare recipients and how they received information in the past few years. He also discussed with us how the Navajo Nation Government would take over the TANF program for the Navajo Reservation, which will happen in July 1999. With the data that we have collected we used Excel to create charts showing the total amount of people who received TANF benefits from September 1996 to November 1998. We then created a PowerPoint presentation to show our data. Our presentation included data gathered from our advisor and the graphs, which included information about Navajos living on the reservation and Navajos living off the reservation receiving welfare benefits. With the information that we have collected so far we have been able to come up with some suggested solutions to solve our problem. Most of our information and ideas came from articles in the local newspapers. This will be discussed later in our report.

Navajo Tribe Acquires the Temporary Assistance to Need Families Program

The new bill is not yet agreed upon by the state, the target date is set on July 1st 1999. This bill is called the 9638-Indian self-determination Education Assistant Act. This bill will allow and administer the Navajo Nation to provide their own Welfare reform department. This bill would have to follow many procedures before the bill is approved, first of all the big questions are "How we would give jobs to recipients?" "Where would most of Navajo's do to find jobs?" "Would we control 15% of the Navajo Nations budget to keep the program running?" The Navajo Nation will face many questions and problem strategies throughout the process of getting the program to start running. Public Law 9638 states that the Navajo Nation provides several programs, Social Services, General Assistant, and Educational Programs, these programs are all funded under the Public Law Contract. The reason why the bill hasn't yet been approved is because the Navajo Nation is still in the process of dividing the programs to help our budget to remain coordinate. However the 9638-Indian self-determination Education Assistant bill requirements will remain the same, for recipients who receive cash assistant. Until, then the Navajo Nation Appeal Program is meeting at the Lawsuit Federal District Court to proceed for the Welfare Reform contract to be ratified. If the Navajo Nation attains the bill, they will have to file a 638 contract to keep the bill from being confiscated. >From now to July 1st, 1999, the Navajo Nation government is preparing for the program, they are working with the Chapter Houses throughout the Navajo Reservation. The government branches will develop a place for the program, starting with constructing office facilities, developing a computer network system, work programs, and working with other companies to open new jobs.

Comprehensive Administration Program shows statistics among three of the states in which the Navajo Nation is located in, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Figure G.1-A recent data of funding across the reservation.

From the data received the chart shows the number of Navajo case loads receiving TANF is higher than the number of Non-Navajo case loads in the San Juan County. The graph in Figure G.2 illustrates the difference between the Navajo cases and the Non- Navajo cases.

The results show that 70% of the cases in San Juan County are Navajo families. The pattern shows that on December 1997, the number of cases were at the lowest and in January of 1998 the cases increased by 100.

The graph in Figure G.3 shows that the number of Navajos living off the reservation is lower than the number of Navajos living on the reservation.

The number of Navajos living on the Reservation is 57% of the total cases in the San Juan County. The pattern for the Navajos living off the Reservation is below the 200 case load line and the pattern is at a constant rate.

The graph Figure G.4 illustrates the difference between the age groups receiving TANF.

The chart shows the age group that receives the most benefits is then Under 18 group. The group Under 18 has a high amount of case loads compared to the 18-29 Group and 30 and Over Group. The group Under 18 is about 3 times the group of 30 and Over. The next group is the ages 18-29. The group that will be most affected by changes will be the Under 18 Group.

The problem with Welfare Reform on the Reservation is how the welfare reform is affecting the high rate of Navajo welfare clients on the reservation. The method we used to research our problem is to compare and analyze the statistics among age groups and past recipients from the year 1997 to the year of 1998. We compared the total current clients on welfare in San Juan County Navajo vs. non-Navajo plus Navajos living on the reservation vs. Navajo living off the reservation. From comparing and analyzing the statistics, we got results that had showed the recipients, receiving a higher percentage of welfare benefits were Navajo living on the reservation. The New Mexico Works instituted a federal system, called TANF, to move people off of welfare and in to the work force. Some of the TANF requirements include volunteering and work participation for 24 hours per week. The clients go through a 15- day assessment, such as determining job skills and training so they can go into a part time job of a full-time job. As part of the TANF program, current recipients must be involved in one of the following qualified work activities: paid employment, subsidized public/private employment, on-the-job training, job search and job readiness training (also called job skills training), community service, limited vocational training/education, working toward completion of high school or GED, or be a current child care provider. We tried to come up with projections for clients receiving welfare benefits for the remaining New Mexico Works years of existence by analyzing statistics working on a C++ program. Projections will help the Navajo recipients adapt to the Welfare Reform Act and show how the act will affect the Navajo people. However, we were unsuccessful in developing a program to predict future welfare recipient statistics. We were able to come up with a few ideas for solutions. The solutions we came up with are:

Some of the possible obstacles to the solutions are:

  1. Lana or Ginger Magalamore, "Life Skills", San Juan College Career Office, Farmington, NM, (505) 326-9157
  2. Alex Yazza, "Navajo Nation Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program", Window Rock, AZ, (520) 810-8552
  3. Division of Tribal Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, Washington, DC 20447, (202) 401-9214
  4. Joe Corrales, Department of Social and Human Services, Farmington, NM, (505) 325-1831
  5. Mr. Austin, Shiprock High School Math Teacher, PO Box 6003, Shiprock, NM 87420, (505) 368-5161
  6. Mrs. Lucero, Shiprock High School Business Teacher, PO Box 6003, Shiprock, NM 87420, (505) 368-5161



In the beginning of this project, we felt it was important for us to educate ourselves concerning welfare on our Navajo Nation. Through this whole project, we know we have completed that goal, even though we couldn't complete our whole project. Unfortunately, we weren't able to come up with a formula that would help us predict possible statistics to help us come up with future statistics. However, our research, we were able to come up with possible solutions. We've become more aware of Navajo recipients that need assistance from welfare programs. Another important learning experience is our achievement to work as a team. It's a very important factor to contribute in our success to complete this project. Our ability to work as a team has succeeded, and this project has been worthwhile for Team 079.