Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Ten Important Questions TANF Agencies and Their Partners Should Consider. Question Three: What policy opportunities and limitations are presented by TANF?

03/01/2001

The devolution of policy making authority granted under PRWORA encourages state and local creativity and flexibility to identify and address unobserved barriers to work among the TANF population. This section discusses the opportunities and limitations presented by federal TANF policies that states face in developing screening and assessment approaches. In particular, we consider four key TANF features - 1) the uses of federal TANF funds and the definition of assistance, 2) time limits, 3) work requirements, and 4) the Family Violence Option.33

When developing screening and assessment policies and approaches state and local TANF agencies and their partners need to clearly understand the intricacies of each policy requirement, and the mix of constraints and opportunities they offer. The intent of this section is to highlight key features of TANF policy that may influence decisions about approaches to screening, assessment, and service provision. In an effort to illustrate some of the program and policy choices states have made, this section offers some examples. However, it is by no means a comprehensive review of the combinations of policies states have adopted, nor does it present the range of combinations states may want to consider.34


33  For a more complete understanding of TANF guidelines, see Public Law 104-193, and TANF regulations at 45 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 260-265. See also regulation summaries prepared by Greenberg and Savner 1999 and Schott, et al. 1999.

34  For additional information on the uses of TANF funds see, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, Helping Families Achieve Self-Sufficiency: A Guide on Funding Services for Children and Families through the TANF Program, www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/funds2.htm. Washington, DC: DHHS, undated.

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