Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. PERSONAL BARRIERS


In this chapter, we turn to the personal-level characteristics of TANF recipients that could potentially function as barriers to employment and self-sufficiency. These characteristics have to do with the individual capacities and readiness for work that arise from the mental, physical, emotional, and social domains of personal functioning. Specifically, in the area of personal barriers, we include the subtopics of prior work history, work orientation norms, ability to perform basic job skills and perceptions of discrimination; learning problems; limited English proficiency and literacy; physical health and disability status; mental health diagnoses; substance abuse and dependency; and criminal involvement.

Table IV.1 summarizes our recommendations and priorities for measuring personal barriers in the survey of TANF recipients. The estimate of the total time needed to administer all the “A”-rated items in the personal barriers domain, as indicated in Table IV.1, is 18.5 minutes.


Personal Barriers Number of Items Past Survey(s) Estimate of Time (minutes) Priority Rating
Work Experience; Work Norms; Job Skills; Job Discrimination
Work Experience
Ever worked for pay 1 WES; NE; IL; IA .25 A
When did Respondent last work for pay? 1 MO; IL; CW .25 B
How much time/years employed since age 18? 1 WES; NE .25 A
Workplace Norms
In the past month, did Respondent have trouble getting along with supervisor; lose temper; refuse to do tasks; show up late for work, etc.? 9 WES 1.0 A
Basic Job Skills
Performance in the past month of a number of different basic job skills (like writing letters; doing arithmetic; filling out forms) 9 WES; CW 1.0 A
Discrimination on the Job
Perceived discrimination on basis of gender, race/ethnicity or welfare 16 WES; CW 2.0 A
Perceived sexual harassment 1 WES .25 B
Learning Problems; Literacy; Limited English Proficiency
Learning Problems
Screener for dyslexia; dyscalcula 12 NE; WES 1.5 A
Is Respondent mentally retarded? 1 AC; CW .25 A
Does Respondent have ADD? 1 AC;CW .25 A
Does Household have a library card? How often used? 2 WES; IA .25 B
How many newspapers/magazines does Household get? 1 WES; IA .25 B
Does Respondent have trouble reading books, newspapers, magazines? 1 WES; IA .25 B
How often does Respondent read to herself? 1 WES; IA .25 B
Limited English Fluency
Respondent has difficulty speaking/reading/writing English because it is not her native language 1 NE; AC .25 A
Respondent's country of origin 1 SPD .25 C
Physical Health Problems
Self-rating of current health status, from the SF-36 1 SPD; MO; NE; AC; HCC; IA; CW; WES; NSAF .25 A
Whether health interferes with Respondent’s ability to work or attend job training 1 NE .25 A
Chronic conditions 1 SPD; AC; HCC .50 B
Chronic conditions that interfere with work/training activities 1 WES .50 A
Functional limitations, from the SF-36 8 NSAF; SPD; AC; HCC; CW 1.0 B
Health insurance 2 WES; NSAF; MO; NE; IL .25 A
Mental Health Conditions
Major Depression (scale) 16 NE; WES; SPD; NSAF; AC; HCC; IA; CW 2.0 A
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (scale) 17 WES; CW; AC; HCC 2.0 A
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (scale) 35 WES; CW 4.0 A
Phobias – (Social; Specific; Agoraphobia) (scale) 24 WES; CW 3.0 C
Panic Attack (scale) 6 HCC 1.0 C
Non-Specific Psychological Distress (Kessler K10 scale) 10 NHIS; WMH; NHIS; NSMHWB; 1.5 B
Substance Abuse Dependency
Alcohol Use/Dependency (scale) 8 SPD; NE; WES; AC; HCC; CW 1.0 A
Drug Use/Dependency (scale) 9 SPD; NE; WES; AC; HCC; CW 1.0 A
Criminal Involvement
Respondent has past criminal record 1 NE; AC .25 A
Convicted of felony since age 18 1 AC .25 A

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