Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Local Answers to Difficult Questions. Services to Address Barriers


Many partner agencies in the study sites not only assist in diagnosing barriers but also provide services to address or mitigate the barrier. Although this study did not attempt to undertake a comprehensive review of the variety of service strategies employed, we did have the opportunity to explore some of services provided by key partners that led us to include certain sites in the study. Below we provide a brief overview of selected programs. Each is discussed in greater detail in Appendix B.

The IRIS Program in Minneapolis, MN and SOC Enterprises in Arlington, VA both utilize an interdisciplinary team to address the varied needs of clients with unobserved barriers to employment. Both provide vocational assessment, job readiness services, and psychological assessments. In addition, some clients may participate in sheltered workshops or subsidized employment as they prepare for unsubsidized positions.

Services offered by both the IRIS Program and the Extra Effort program in Montgomery County, KS are based on the agencies’ experiences serving severely and persistently mentally ill (SPMI) adults, who have many of the same barriers as hard-to-serve TANF clients. Both programs keep staff-to-client ratios low so as to facilitate individualized and intensive services. Both provide social stabilization or support services as well as job readiness services.

Finally, Rainier Case Management’s Intensive In-Home Services in Kent, WA is also an individualized, intensive approach to assisting clients with unobserved barriers to employment. Unlike the services described above, Rainier’s services are offered to clients who are non-compliant with TANF program requirements, or at risk of being sanctioned for non-compliance. Rainier case managers conduct in-depth assessments to determine if an unobserved barriers is the cause of the non-compliance and attempt to connect clients with services that will bring them back into compliance. Although Rainier staff offer some informal, one-on-one counseling, their primary service is convincing the client to come back into compliance and working with TANF agency staff to modify service plans to address clients’ needs.

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