Screening and Assessment in TANF/Welfare to Work

Publication Date: March 15, 2001


Changes to the welfare system brought about by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), and state and local welfare reform efforts, carry serious implications for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients with disabilities and barriers to employment. Specifically, work participation and time limit requirements are two key provisions of the federal welfare law which provide a new sense of urgency encouraging states to develop strategies to assist clients with their transitions from welfare to work. As a first step in this process, TANF agencies are considering strategies to identify the barriers that are inhibiting or prohibiting this transition. PRWORA offers unprecedented flexibility to develop such strategies and design programs and services to assist with the transition from welfare to work.

As caseloads have declined, there is general agreement among TANF agencies that larger proportions of remaining clients are “hard-to-serve” Often this means clients are believed to have substance abuse or mental health problems or learning disabilities, or to be in domestic violence situations referred to collectively in this paper as “unobserved” barriers to employment. Given the employment focus and time-limited nature of TANF, there is increased interest in screening and assessment approaches that can be used to identify these barriers to employment.

Current as of: