Training is one way of ensuring that all involved in screening or assessment efforts are presented necessary information about the approach. Therefore, it is likely that TANF staff and staff of partner agencies should be trained. Several states we spoke to said that training, to the extent that it is presenting new policies, procedures, and issues, should not only be incorporated into new worker training, but that it should also be provided for experienced caseworkers as well as supervisors. While it was not the norm among states we reviewed, some states require and many experts recommend that caseworkers repeat training at periodic intervals as a refresher.
Although staff often express a desire for additional training, they also note concern regarding the time training requires, noting that lengthy training can make it difficult to keep up with their workload. However, to ensure that all staff receive important information, some states have made training mandatory for caseworkers. For example, Utah has mandatory training for all employment counselors that includes information about assessment. In fact, to encourage everyone to participate in training, Utah has tied completion of the training to promotions of their employment counselors and to pay raises. States and localities will need to decide for themselves the relative importance of training on screening and assessment issues and weigh this against the costs associated with mandatory training for all staff involved.
To the extent a state or locality is working with other organizations to implement its screening or assessment approach, it is important that all staff involved be trained. Training for partner agencies may include information about TANF policies, the opportunities and limitations these policies hold for case managers, and the obligations TANF recipients face. Cross-training on procedures can also assist with the implementation of collaborative efforts. In some cases, partner agencies who have greater expertise identifying and addressing barriers might serve as a training resource for TANF agencies.