In addition to the specialized workers mentioned above, all sites rely on experts from partner agencies to further the identification process or diagnose conditions and provide services to clients with unobserved barriers to employment. For example, staff in all sites refer clients to community mental health centers, local substance abuse treatment agencies, domestic violence shelters, and/or Vocational Rehabilitation programs that employ staff who have the skills and tools to determine with certainty that a barrier exists. Specialized staff in these organizations have the formal training required to work with these clients and administer barrier-specific tools. Specialists at community mental health centers commonly hold Master’s or Ph.D. degrees, while staff of substance abuse treatment organizations are commonly Certified Addictions Counselors or have other specialized training. Domestic violence service providers who are partners in the study sites employ an interdisciplinary staff, some of whom are advocates, counselors, or have other specialized training.
Vocational counselors involved in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) programs typically must possess a degree in vocational counseling. VR programs also work with other vocational evaluators and diagnosticians, depending on the client’s specific disability.
The VR pilot program co-located with one of the employment service providers in Minneapolis, MN initially sought to employ staff who had experience with both vocational counseling and social service provision. This joint requirement was considered important because TANF clients were believed to require a different level of need for support than other VR clients. Thus staff would have to address not just the vocational evaluation and counseling needs of the client, but those needs that affect their ability to participate in or complete VR services. This joint requirement was difficult to fulfill and managers resorted to hiring staff with some social service experience and who would commit to completing their vocational counseling course of study after employed.