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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Improving TANF Program Outcomes For Families With Barriers To Employment
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A significant number of current and former TANF recipients have various barriers to finding and maintaining employment. Among the most common barriers are physical and mental health problems, domestic violence, low skill levels, lack of adequate or affordable housing, and limited proficiency in English. Research has shown that recipients with work barriers are less likely to find jobs, have lower earnings on average, and are more likely to lose assistance because of a sanction for program noncompliance than families without barriers. Poor outcomes are especially likely for families that experience more than one barrier to employment. Welfare reauthorization offers an opportunity to improve services and outcomes for these disadvantaged families.

After summarizing research on the prevalence and effects of various barriers to
employment, this paper discusses changes that could be made to TANF to improve program outcomes for families with work barriers. (Author)
Washington, D.C.