Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Local Answers to Difficult Questions. Specialized Staff Involved in Barrier Identification


The study sites rely on specialized staff to assist in the identification of unobserved barriers to employment to varying degrees. Although TANF case managers bear the primary responsibility for initially detecting the possibility of an unobserved barrier, more specialized workers are responsible for additional assessment or diagnosis. In all sites, staff of partner agencies who have more formal training relating to an unobserved barrier, or experience working with individuals with a particular barrier, are involved in the barrier identification and/or diagnosis process. Many of these staff also work with clients to determine appropriate strategies for addressing barriers and may provide individual treatment or accommodations.

Clients who participated in the focus groups indicated that they were more comfortable disclosing to specialized workers (both specialized workers within the TANF office and staff of partner agencies), where they had such interactions. In three of the six study sites, a specialized staff person is located within the TANF agency specifically to assist with barrier identification and the development of service strategies. In two sites (Las Vegas, NV and Kent, WA) the specialists carry the title social worker and are employed by the TANF system, and in the third (Owensboro, KY), the specialist is the TAP assessor employed by the University of Kentucky. Below we describe how these three sites utilize specialists to aid in the barrier identification process.

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