Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Local Answers to Difficult Questions. On-going Opportunities to Identify Unobserved Barriers


In the study sites barrier identification is on-going throughout a client’s TANF experience.

Perhaps one of the most important findings of this study is that barrier identification as carried out by the study sites is an ongoing process, not a single event. Universally, respondents indicated that there is no single point when barrier identification occurs. Rather, they indicated that barrier identification is on-going throughout a client’s TANF experience, including while being served by partner agencies. As various staff interact with clients attempting to make the transition from welfare to work, efforts to identify barriers to this transition are undertaken, both formally and informally.

In all sites, there are specific points in a client’s TANF experience when efforts to identify barriers using a particular tool are undertaken—some of these were noted in earlier chapters. In addition, staff universally employ informal strategies to identify barriers during nearly every interaction with clients. Staff who rely heavily on informal strategies generally consider each interaction with a client as an opportunity to uncover possible barriers to employment, thereby reinforcing the on-going nature of barrier identification. Within this ongoing process, there are specific points when efforts are made to identify barriers. Common points utilized across the study sites are presented in Figure 2 and are further described below. These opportunities to identify barriers seem to vary in part based on the responsibilities of the staff involved, activities that normally occur early in a client’s TANF experience in each locality, and the TANF policy context.

Figure 2: Possible Opportunities to Identify Barriers to Employment


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