A Study of Work Participation and Full Engagement Strategies. Regular and Frequent Contact with Recipients


Like a client-centered employment plan, regular and frequent contact between TANF recipients and case managers is another part of individualized case planning that is used to motivate recipients to participate in program activities. When their workload allows it, case managers talk regularly with recipients, by telephone or in person, to discuss eligibility changes, review progress toward employment goals, help them access work supports, and address personal and family challenges that interfere with participation in work or work-related activities. They celebrate recipients' successes and take a tough love approach to nonparticipation.

In four of the seven study sites--El Paso County, Oswego County, Riverside County, and Wisconsin--case managers are required to contact TANF recipients on their caseloads monthly. This is more feasible in sites like Wisconsin and El Paso County because case managers there have relatively small caseload, ranging from a low of 40 to 80 recipients in Wisconsin to 70 to 90 work-ready recipients in El Paso County (Table III.3). Other sites--Franklin and Montgomery counties, for example--require contact at least every six months. Case managers there have less flexibility in case planning and typically carry a caseload of 250 to 350 families, including anywhere from 30 to 75 TANF families. However, some case managers meet more frequently with TANF recipients who have complex service needs or who are not participating in program activities.

Table III.3.
Case Management Structure and Frequency of Client Contact
  El Paso County,CO Franklin County, OH Montgomery County, OH Oswego County, NY Riverside County, CA Utah Wisconsin
Structure of Case Management In-house (hard-to-employ)

Goodwill Industries (work-ready)

Generic case manager (combined caseload) Generic case manager (combined caseload) Specialized case manager Phase I (job search)

Phase II (employed)

Generic case manager (combined caseload) Generic case manager
Average TANF Caseload (per case manager) 100-125 cases

70-90 cases (Goodwill)

300-350 cases (30-50 TANF ) 250 cases

(60-75 TANF)

80-100 cases 100-110 cases (phase I)

60-90 cases
(phase II)

60-90 cases

(20-30 TANF)

40-80 cases
Required frequency of Client Contact 90 days (in-house)

monthly (Goodwill)

6 months 6 months Monthly contact with Pathways

As needed with case manager

Monthly 90 days (monthly in some offices) Monthly

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