Providing Mental Health Services to TANF Recipients: Program Design Choices and Implementation Challenges in Four States. Rationale for Integrating Mental Health Services into TANF Programs


Although most states have made significant progress in moving families off welfare and into the labor force, many families continue to receive cash assistance. While some of these families are new to the TANF system, many have been receiving assistance for some time and may therefore be at risk of losing cash assistance due to approaching time limits. As legislators and TANF administrators assess the progress that has been made since the passage of welfare reform, it is becoming apparent that some individuals, especially those with mental health conditions, may need more job-related assistance than most welfare employment programs are designed to provide. Because mental health conditions are more common among low-income families in general and welfare recipients in particular than they are among the general population, addressing the mental health needs of welfare recipients is a priority for many program administrators. The goal of providing services to these individuals is to increase the likelihood that they will be able to make the transition from welfare to work and remain employed.

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