- Identifying and addressing personal barriers and human capital deficits among TANF recipients are very important.
Personal barriers and human capital deficits appear to be more important than situational barriers in terms of the long-term employability issues faced by TANF recipients. Of particular importance are physical and mental health problems, signs of a possible learning disability, and caring for a sick or disabled family member. Limited job skills and the lack of a high school diploma or GED are also key barriers to employment. More attention and resources should be paid to assessing and ameliorating these types of barriers, especially for those not readily apparent, such as mental health problems and learning disabilities.
- Certain sets of barriers are more common among sub-groups of the TANF population.
In general, the results indicate that many TANF recipients – especially older recipients – face multiple personal barriers in volving physical health problems, chronic health conditions, and mental health problems. Physical health problems, particularly those involving chronic pain and disability, can often be important contributors to mental health problems. Child care and transportation problems are most common among younger clients. Also, this research substantiates what we know about poorer employment outcomes for clients with educational deficits, indications of learning disabilities, and lack of job skills.
- The relationships among employment barriers are often complex, requiring good assessments and in-depth understanding of individual circumstances.
In interpreting the findings in this chapter, the results must be treated with some caution. Although barriers such as child care problems and transportation problems did not show a significant relationship with current employment status or recent work history, this does not mean that child care or transportation were not potential employment barriers. Respondents who had child care problems in the past year may have been actively looking for work or actually working much of the time, compared to those who were out of the workforce due to other barriers, with less need for child care. This might help explain why the respondents who reported child care problems had employment rates that were no worse than other respondents. Likewise, respondents who were out of the workforce for reasons unrelated to child care (such as physical health problems) may have had fewer child care barriers (and other logistical problems such as transportation) because they were able to care for their children at home.