The findings show that many TANF recipients have physical and mental health barriers to employment. Twenty-two percent of the respondents could be classified as having a physical health problem, and 30% reported that their physical health had been a major barrier to employment or education in the past year. About one-third of the respondents could be classified as having a mental health problem, and 15% said that mental health problems had been a major barrier to employment or school in the past year.
Physical and mental health problems tend to be concentrated among older recipients, whites, and divorced or separated recipients. In addition, individuals in these same groups are also more likely to be caring for a sic k or disabled family member. Thus, different sub-groups of the TANF population have different barriers to employment, and different reasons for going on and staying on TANF. For younger and never-married recipients, factors such as lack of jobs or education are important. For older and divorced/separated respondents, physical and mental health barriers or having to look after a sick or disabled family member are more significant.
These results also emphasize the link between educational deficits and possible learning disabilities among the TANF population. High school dropouts were three times as likely as other respondents to show evidence of a possible learning disability. They are likely to require more intensive services than referral to a GED program or high school completion program.
The findings on job skills indicate that many of the TANF recipients (and in particular, high school dropouts) had little or no computer experience and little experience writing letters or performing similar clerical functions. Lack of exposure to computers or other clerical tasks may be an important barrier for TANF recipients, in terms of gaining higher earnings and opportunities for job advancement, benefits, and regular work hours.
Many of the respondents who reported problems with child care cited the high cost of child care and the difficulty of finding child care providers for the times needed. SCDSS should continue helping eligible TANF recipients receive child care assistance and identifying good quality child care that fits client work schedules.