Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Local Answers to Difficult Questions. Chapter Five: Staffing Strategies To Identify Barriers To Employment

12/01/2001

As TANF agencies and their partners increasingly focus on efforts to identify unobserved barriers to employment, they must consider the roles different staff should play in the barrier identification process. In doing this, they must decide how to best utilize TANF agency staff and staff of partner agencies in this endeavor. In all of the study sites, TANF case managers play an integral role in initial barrier identification efforts. In many cases this is a new role for these staff. However, the abilities of TANF case workers to fulfill barrier identification responsibilities are affected by their other responsibilities, their skills and training, and the size of their caseloads. Each of these dimensions is discussed below.

Case managers in several study sites are supported by specialized workers or through partnerships with organizations that employ specialized workers. While staff of partner agencies—such as substance abuse treatment facilities, community mental health centers, Vocational Rehabilitation programs, or domestic violence shelters—likely have greater expertise or more formal training related to identifying or addressing barriers within their area of expertise, they may not have the ready access to TANF clients that workers in the TANF system possess and therefore must coordinate with the TANF system in order to fully address the needs of welfare recipients. The use of specialists in the study sites, and efforts to coordinate identification and service efforts carried out by the variety of staff involved, are also discussed below.

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