Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Local Answers to Difficult Questions. The Importance of Trust and Relationships

12/01/2001

“It’s important for your worker to know you personally. Not as a stereotype, not as a number.”

“He listens and he doesn’t judge you for the things that happen.”

“They keep on you. They come to your house. It helps keep you going. Financial workers don’t care. They just tell me my case is closed.”

“The social worker showed up at my house to see if I was okay. My family doesn’t even do that.”

“She doesn’t talk at me, she talks with me. Like she may be able to understand
some of the things you’re going through.”

 

Clients clearly stated that they were more likely to disclose to someone they trust and with whom they have established a personal relationship.

Clients clearly stated that they were more likely to disclose to someone they trust and with whom they have established a personal relationship. Clients noted a number of characteristics of staff with whom they were more likely to develop a trusting relationship and thus to whom they are comfortable disclosing unobserved barriers to employment. Staff considered trustworthy, and to whom clients would or could confide, were commonly described as respectful, responsive, caring, down-to-earth, interested, nonjudgmental, compassionate, and supportive.

When pressed about how they came to determine staff to be trustworthy, many clients indicated that trust was gained when staff demonstrated their willingness and ability to help, for example through the provision of supportive services or a helpful referral. Home visits were mentioned by some clients as being evidence of a worker’s caring or interest in helping. On the other hand, some believed that home visits, particularly when unannounced or when their intent was not understood, were off-putting and an invasion of privacy. Several clients noted that determining that an individual was trustworthy or developing a trusting relationship requires time. However, examples provided indicate that there is no fixed period of time required to develop a relationship, and that some relationships form more quickly, whereas others may take some time.

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