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Welfare Reform: More Coordinated Effort Could Help States and Localities Move Tanf Recipients With Impairments Toward Employment
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With TANF’s reauthorization pending in 2002, you asked us to provide information on how individuals with disabilities or impairments are faring in the new welfare environment. In response to your request, we are providing you with information on (1) the percentage of TANF recipients considered to have physical or mental impairments and how this percentage has changed over time; (2) how county TANF agencies assess and move recipients with impairments toward employment; and (3) what key federal efforts are under way to facilitate TANF agencies’ efforts to help this population become employed.

To address the first question, we relied primarily on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)— a survey of households nationwide that asks respondents questions about their TANF status and functional impairments and uses categories of impairments generally in keeping with those covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). To determine how TANF agencies screen and assess recipients with impairments and help them move to employment, we sent a questionnaire to a random, stratified sample of 600 county TANF offices, representative of county TANF offices nationwide. Our review of the literature and suggestions by officials at HHS and the Departments of Labor and Education, experts, key researchers, and service providers, prompted us to visit four county TANF offices identified as having promising approaches for identifying and helping TANF recipients with impairments move to employment: Cumberland County, North Carolina; Sedgwick County, Kansas; Davidson County, Tennessee; and Leon County, Florida. Finally, to determine the key efforts of federal agencies to help this population, we interviewed HHS, Labor, Education, and other federal officials; program advocates; state and local officials; and reviewed agency documents. We conducted our work from November 2000 to September 2001 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. (GAO)
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