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


The Family Services Counseling (FSC) Assessment Form is a standard tool used statewide by all family services counselors. The assessment was developed by the program director with input from welfare and FSC program staff. Family services counselors may use additional inventories but are required to complete the basic assessment form for all clients referred to the FSC program. Copies of completed assessment forms are sent to the College of Social Work, Office of Research and Public Service at the University of Tennessee for use in the FSC program evaluation.

Purpose of the screening/assessment tool: The purpose of the assessment is to determine the service needs of TANF recipients participating in the FSC program. Results from the assessment are used to design the types and volume of activities included in the client's employment plan. This assessment is also used in a statewide evaluation of the FSC program.

Target population: The FSC Assessment Form is administered to TANF recipients referred to the FSC program, which includes those with mental health and substance abuse problems, victions of domestic violence, individuals with learning disabilities, and/or children with behavioral problems. Clients in sanction status are automatically referred to FSC (participation in services is voluntary).

Who administers the assessment: The assessment is administered by family services counselors, who are either licensed mental health professionals or individuals supervised by a licensed mental health professional.

Time required to complete the assessment: On average, assessments take about two hours to complete.

Information collected/issues addressed: The FSC Assessment Form collects information on demographics, family situation, sources of stress, problems the client is struggling with, school/work history, physical health, counseling history, drug and alcohol use, current functioning, and on issues covered in the Adult Strength Scale.(2) Counselors also recorded their impressions and recommendations on the form. In addition, the form includes four supplemental screenings: (1) learning needs screening, (2) drug and alcohol screening, (3) family violence screening, and (4) functional assessment.(3) These screenings are only used if certain "red flag" questions on the assessment are answered positively or if the counselor believes that additional questions may help the client open up and disclose more information.

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

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

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