Screening and Assessment in TANF\Welfare-to-Work: Ten Important Questions TANF Agencies and Their Partners Should Consider. Research Questions Regarding Screening and Assessment Methods


Does a particular screening or assessment effort yield desired results? States and localities are actively considering what screening or assessment approach to adopt. However, few efforts to screen or assess for unobserved barriers to employment have been rigorously evaluated. Without this information, it will remain unclear how states and localities can most effectively identify the challenges TANF recipients continue to face.

How effective are approaches that rely on self-disclosure or red flags alone? Although relatively easy to implement and low-cost approaches, relying on red flags or self-disclosure may or may not identify barriers as effectively as more formal approaches. These approaches should be examined to determine their effectiveness.

Does the use of formal screening tools enhance a TANF agency's ability to identify unobserved barriers to employment? To some degree, all TANF agencies rely on case management, self-disclosure, and red flags to uncover barriers to employment. Does the addition of a formal screening or assessment tool more effectively uncover barriers? Few tools have been designed or tested for use with TANF recipients. Given this, there is little known about their effectiveness. To understand if the use of formal instruments is more effective than less formal approaches, further study is necessary.

Is it more effective to assess for and address a single barrier or address multiple barriers at once? The research available and caseworker anecdotes indicate that few clients face a single barrier to employment. Yet, little study has focused on the most effective approaches to identifying and addressing multiple barriers. Outstanding questions include: Should services be designed to address a single barrier at a time, or should the approaches be comprehensive attempting to simultaneously address several issues? Can clients effectively participate in services addressing more than one barrier at a time? More information about the co-occurrence of barriers and service approaches is also necessary.

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