School for Social Work
This mixed methods study examined the experiences and perceptions of welfare recipients who were referred to Contra Costa County's sanctioned client outreach program. Contra Costa County assigned social workers ("Client Engagement Specialists") to provide intensive outreach to this client population that was often regarded as difficult to engage in required employment activities and services. The objective was to better understand how welfare recipients viewed the attempt to re-engage them and what county-offered services they regarded as most helpful to them and their families. The study consisted of a sample of 19 respondents drawn from a larger sample pool of 149 sanctioned welfare recipients referred for services from October through August, 2008. Subjects answered questions from an interview guide consisting of 47 Likert Scale type questions and 4 open-ended questions regarding their experiences and beliefs. Additional data was obtained from the statewide CalWORKs data system used by Contra Costa County, CalWIN. Findings showed that sanctioned welfare recipients held largely positive views of their social workers and social workers' attempts to engagement them in county employment services. They placed particular value on social worker competence in employment coaching, community resource referral and support. Respondents reported a high level of understanding of both welfare program requirements and the county noncompliance/sanction process. Attitudes toward county work experience and job readiness programs were mixed, with approximately half reporting positive experiences and half expressing dissatisfaction. In keeping with the previous literature, many recipients reported experiences of material hardship, mental health challenges and transportation problems. Spiritual beliefs were reported as a source of support by most respondents, however questions regarding specific beliefs/religious affiliations were not asked.
Perrier-Morris, Sena M., "Engaging the hard to engage : an examination of sanctioned TANF clients' perceptions of the re-engagement process : a project done in collaboration with the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department." (2009). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.