Other government agencies or providers of publicly funded services may be natural partners for TANF agencies.
Other Government Agencies. TANF agencies may find natural partners in the other parts of state government or among entities that administer publicly funded programs. For example, VR and the Department of Labor's Welfare-to-Work (WtW) grants programs offer examples of other programs with which TANF agencies may consider partnering. Both VR and laborrelated programs have considered these and similar challenges in so far as they present barriers to employment. In fact, the WtW program is not only intended to serve hard-to-serve TANF clients, but includes TANF recipients with substance abuse problems as one of its eligibility criteria.
In some cases such programs are housed within the same department or division within a state agency. Where this is the case, the fact that multiple agencies answer to the same boss and share similar objectives(albeit at a high level), potentially encourages and facilitates collaboration. In Arkansas and some other states, mental health functions are housed in the same part of the state government as public assistance. In Missouri, the Governor issued an Executive Order that requires the Department of Social Services (which houses TANF) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH; which houses both substance abuse and mental health services) to work together because of common interests and objectives. Therefore, when Missouri's TANF program administrators sought assistance in identifying substance abuse problems among TANF recipients, they turned to DMH. Because DMH includes both substance abuse and mental health services, they were able to assist in the development of a tool that screens for both barriers.
In Arizona and Rhode Island, the TANF and VR programs are housed within the same state government department. In Rhode Island, the VR program has worked with TANF to incorporate questions to screen for learning disabilities into the TANF employability planning process. If a client screens positively for a learning disability, she is referred to VR for additional services. In Phoenix, Arizona, TANF funds are used to support VR staff who work exclusively with TANF recipients. TANF recipients who are deferred from Arizona's welfare to work program are screened for VR eligibility, and if eligible, offered the same array of assessment and other services available to VR clients.78
CBOs under contract to provide employment services may also have expertise identifying or addressing barriers.
Community-Based Organizations. In addition to government agencies, non-governmental and community-based organizations (CBOs) also offer expertise with barriers to employment. Many TANF programs already rely heavily on CBOs for contracted employment services. In some cases, these same CBOs may have expertise identifying or addressing a particular barrier, and may be a valuable resource to the TANF agency. For example, homeless service providers, domestic violence shelters or coalitions, community mental health treatment facilities, substance abuse treatment organizations, adult and secondary education providers, faith-based service organizations, and others may offer TANF agencies assistance.
For example, Kansas relies on non-profit Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Centers for additional assessment services. Kentucky is relying on the expertise of staff the University of Kentucky to assist with the identification of barriers among TANF recipients. Through its Targeted Assessment Project, the University of Kentucky has hired highly experienced assessors who are place in TANF offices to assist with barrier identification issues.
78 Holcomb, Pamela A. and Terri S. Thompson. State Welfare-to-Work Policies for People with Disabilities: Implementation Challenges and Considerations. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, August 2000.