As states implement Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs, the importance of public assistance case-worker functioning has been magnified. Based on personal interviews with 60 recipients, this article presents recipient perspectives about caseworker performance in one pre-TANF welfare reform program. While assessments of caseworker performance were mixed, study respondents consistently emphasized three dimensions in evaluating caseworker performance: substantive competence, accessibility, and interpersonal relations. Respondents rarely mentioned empowerment, strength building, or other casework practices that have been emphasized in social work practice literature. It was concluded that developing caseworker competence along the basic performance dimensions stressed by respondents may be a prerequisite to the establishment of more substantial helping relationships. Discussion includes prospects for infusing empowerment and strength-building perspectives into TANF case manager roles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)