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


Intensive case managers, also known as specialized case managers, may be employment case managers with a reduced TANF caseload of hard-to-employ clients or bachelor's level mental health staff who work with LCSWs to link clients to services. Intensive case managers in Utah's welfare-to-work-funded GROW(14) program teach clients basic living and problem-solving skills, link clients to mental health and other services, and monitor and track client participation in mental health services. In Clarksville, Tennessee, a bachelor's-level intensive case manager assists the LCSW by coordinating services, and by monitoring and tracking client participation in mental health and other activities. Western Palm Beach County Mental Health in Belle Glade, Florida, hired an intensive case manager to assist clients receiving mental health services with housing referrals, immigration paperwork, and SSI applications and to teach clients about job search activities and resume-writing skills.

The advantage of intensive case managers is that they can provide some of the linking and monitoring responsibilities performed by the mental health counselor, allowing the mental health counselor to focus on client assessments and mental health treatment. The drawback is that, at times, limited funding restricts the amount of social work staff that can be hired to provide mental health services. Typically, intensive case managers are used to augment, rather than to replace, clinical workers.

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