Case Study of an Approach for Preparing Individuals with Low Income for Work: Kentucky Targeted Assessment Program

Case Study of an Approach for Preparing Individuals with Low Income for Work: Kentucky Targeted Assessment Program

Published: Sep 02, 2021
Publisher: Mathematica and MEF Associates
Associated Project

State Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Case Studies

Time frame: 2018-2021

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


Mary Farrell

Marisa Putnam

Liza Rodler

Key Findings
  • TAP’s main approach to serving people with low incomes is to provide wraparound supports to help participants remove structural barriers to engagement and employment, which may include lack of child care, transportation, food, clothing, housing, utilities, and medical care.
  • TAP’s primary services are intensive case management, referrals to community-based services and treatment programs, and helping participants follow through on referrals and services.
  • TAP’s promising approach comprises four key program elements: (1) a comprehensive assessment to identify participant barriers, (2) co-location and collaboration with referral sources and partners, (3) advocacy for participants to ensure the state TANF and child welfare agency understand their needs, and (4) intensive staff hiring and training to ensure they are experienced and able to work well with clients.

This case study describes Kentucky’s Targeted Assessment Program (TAP), a program providing comprehensive assessment and intensive case management services to parents who are involved in the state’s child welfare and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) systems. The goal of the program is to help participants overcome barriers to self-sufficiency and family safety by focusing on (1) mental health, (2) substance use, (3) intimate partner violence, and (4) learning disabilities or deficits. The state’s Department for Community Based Services, which administers the state’s TANF and child welfare programs, contracts with the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research to operate TAP. TAP operates in 35 of the state’s 120 counties.

This case study is part of the State TANF Case Studies project, which is designed to expand the knowledge base on innovative approaches to help people with low incomes, including TANF recipients, prepare for and engage in work and increase their overall stability. Mathematica and its subcontractor, MEF Associates, were contracted by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop descriptive case studies of nine innovative state and local programs. The programs were chosen through a scan of the field and discussions with stakeholders. TANF practitioners and staff of other programs can learn about innovative practices through the case studies. The studies also can expand policymakers’ and researchers’ understanding of programs that support people’s success in work and highlight innovative practices to explore in future research.

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