Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Local Answers to Difficult Questions. Owensboro, Kentucky

12/01/2001

In addition to formal training and credentials, TAP assessors must also have experience working with low-income women with multiple barriers to employment and be familiar with the communities in which they work.

As in Las Vegas, case managers in Owensboro are also supported by more highly trained specialists. The Targeted Assessment Project (TAP) co-locates TAP assessors, who are experienced clinicians, in the welfare office to assist with barrier identification. Assessors are employees of the University of Kentucky, Institute on Women and Substance Abuse. The Institute has a contract with the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children to operate the Targeted Assessment Project which is designed to take a holistic approach to identifying and addressing TANF clients’ barriers. To accomplish this objective, TAP designers believe that assessors must have advanced formal training (i.e., hold a Masters of social work, counseling, or education degree, be a Certified Addictions Counselor, or have other clinical training). In addition to formal training and credentials, TAP assessors must also have experience working with low-income women with multiple barriers to employment and be familiar with the communities in which they work. In Owensboro, the TAP assessors are very experienced. They each have multiple of the required credentials, had both previously worked in the local mental health services community, and have relationships with staff at key partner agencies to which TANF clients are referred.30

TANF clients may be referred to the TAP assessor in a number of ways. During the initial assessment interview, case managers complete a screening form with clients to determine if she should be referred to the TAP assessor. Case managers reported that they also refer clients who are not making progress toward self-sufficiency or are generally “difficult” cases. Additionally, clients who do not initially disclose barriers and are referred to the Project LIFE job readiness workshop, but who later disclose a barrier, may be referred. TAP assessors rely on both their clinical training, as well as their interpersonal skills, to develop a rapport with clients and conduct a psycho-social interview. In some cases, this assessment is conducted over the course of several interviews and may involve the TAP assessor visiting the client in her home or meeting the client at a neutral site. Based on this assessment, the TAP assessor makes recommendations to the case manager regarding changes or additions to the client’s service plan to include referrals to address unobserved barriers, as appropriate. To ensure that clients do not fall through the cracks of a complicated social service system, TAP assessors often call theirpeers in other agencies to personally arrange appointments. In some cases the TAP assessors even accompany clients to the first appointment with a partner agency to ensure follow-through and make sure the client is comfortable with the new specialist.


30  To assure that everyone in the community accepts the individual hired as the assessor, applicants are screened and interviewed by a group of community social service representatives.

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