Description and Assessment of State Approaches to Diversion Programs and Activities Under Welfare Reform. C. Implications for Cash Assistance Eligibility Procedures


These descriptions of state efforts provide an initial look at the ways in which states are beginning to change their eligibility determination procedures to consider a broad range of resources that may be available to help TANF applicants meet their immediate needs without receiving ongoing cash assistance. The successful implementation of efforts to link TANF applicants with alternative resources requires a broader understanding of community resources and more sophisticated interviewing skills than has traditionally been required of caseworkers determining eligibility for cash assistance. Thus, staff training and caseworker qualifications are likely to have a substantial impact on how efforts to link TANF applicants with alternative resources play out in practice. With the exception of Wisconsin, states generally offer applicants the opportunity rather than requiring them to take advantage of alternative resources that may be available to them. Consequently, in most states, efforts to link applicants with alternative resources are likely to affect only those applicants who have a relatively minor, short-term need which can be met through means other than providing ongoing cash assistance. Applicants in need of ongoing assistance to address more serious needs are as likely to progress through the application process and receive TANF benefits as they would have prior to the shift to an approach involving a more concerted effort to assess applicant needs and link applicants with the appropriate alternative resources.