Providing Mental Health Services to TANF Recipients: Program Design Choices and Implementation Challenges in Four States. Florida


The Florida TANF SAMH (Substance Abuse/Mental Health) Program Screening is a standard 32-item screening tool used statewide by TANF SAMH outreach workers. The TANF SAMH program director developed the screening tool with input from TANF SAMH district specialists, and mental health and substance abuse contracted service providers. Questions can be added to the basic screening tool, but the 32 core questions may not be modified.

Purpose of the screening/assessment tool: The purpose of the screening is to identify clients at risk for mental health and/or substance abuse issues.

Target population: The screening/assessment tool is administered to TANF clients and other low-income families with an income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Clients are screened in one-stop employment centers, public health centers, public schools, county courthouses, WIC offices, Head Start offices, and other locations that serve TANF recipients and other low-income families.

Who administers the assessment: Bachelor's level outreach workers administer the assessment to TANF recipients and other low-income families. The outreach workers, staff from the contracted mental health and substance abuse service providers, have a background in psychology, social work, or other social service-related fields.

Time required to complete the screening: The screening can be completed in 45 minutes to an hour.

Information collected/issues addressed: The screening tool begins with two open-ended questions: (1) "How is your life going for you right now?" and (2) "How is life going for your children?" The tool also includes the CAGE to detect drug and alcohol abuse, and a DSM IV-based mental health screening tool that addresses 10 disorders including, among others, depression; suicidal ideations; anxiety; history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse; and domestic violence. A scoring system for the screening tools allows outreach workers to determine whether a client should be referred to treatment. A "yes" response to any one of seven specified questions indicates an automatic referral.

Florida's Screening/Assessment Instrument [in PDF format]


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"TANF-MH01.pdf" (pdf, 763.2Kb)

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