Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Local Answers to Difficult Questions. Mechanisms for Establishing Partnerships


Partnerships in the study sites were created in a variety of ways. In some cases, partnerships grew out of past experience working informally with other organizations within a community’s social service system. In Kentucky, the University of Kentucky’s Targeted Assessment Project (TAP) is based on a previous relationship between the University’s Institute on Women and Substance Abuse and the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children. Prior to the TAP effort, the Women’s Institute had worked with the Cabinet to provide training on substance abuse identification and referrals. The Women’s Institute built on this relationship with the Cabinet to encourage a more holistic approach to barrier identification, out of which the TAP effort grew.

Approaches to establishing relationships varied across the sites, in part based on the responsibilities maintained at the state level, as compared to those passed to regional or local TANF offices. In the example above, the State of Kentucky initiated the TAP effort  with the University of Kentucky. In Arlington, VA and Minneapolis, MN, the devolved nature of responsibility for TANF operations has resulted in relationships being established primarily between local-level agencies.39

Alternatively, Nevada is a state administered TANF system and as such the state welfare agency took the lead in establishing relationships in support of identifying and addressing unobserved barriers. Memoranda of understanding between organizations outline the expectations of each agency relative to barrier identification, referrals, and services, and serve as the foundation for local level operations. In Washington, service contracts are established regionally so that they can be more closely tailored to local needs. However, local office directors in Washington have the latitude to establish additional partnerships and can even initiate additional local contracts if regionally-secured services do not meet local needs.

Overwhelmingly, TANF staff at all levels reported having little difficulty securing services necessary to support efforts to identify and address unobserved barriers.

Overwhelmingly, TANF staff at all levels reported having little difficulty securing services necessary to support efforts to identify and address unobserved barriers. In part this may be a result of the study sites reflecting service rich communities. However, staff commonly attributed this ease to the general availability of TANF funding to purchase or create services. For example, in Kent, WA, TANF funds were used to support additional beds in substance abuse treatment facilities, thus ensuring that TANF clients have access to required treatment. In Minneapolis, MN the IRIS Program was initially funded with Welfare-to-Work grant funds and later received funding from the TANF system to allow access to IRIS services by a broader range of TANF clients. In Nevada, TANF funds were used to expand mental health services to ensure TANF clients would not face long waiting lists and risk running out of months on TANF before receiving necessary services.

39  An important exception is the Department of Social Services/Department of Rehabilitation Services jointly funded project that facilitates services by SOC  Enterprises.

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