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Can Trauma-informed practices help TANF recipients with careers and financial literacy?

I invite you to review Trauma-informed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): A Randomized Control Trial with a Two-Generation ImpactI believe this research has implications in how we set up career pathways, develop instruction, and deliver professional development training. 

The research is centered around how TANF has had limited success in building sustainable self-efficiency in family and does not address trauma or trauma exposure as a barrier to employment. The article cites research on the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences and TANF recipients. Research has repeatedly linked ACEs or trauma-exposure to damaging work prospects and stable income due to the work limiting conditions such as depression, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and food insecurity. 

From the article, "Trauma-informed approaches that integrate knowledge and awareness of how trauma affects cognitive, social, and emotional functioning seeks to ensure that operations and processes do not re-traumatize individuals."

The research had control groups and full intervention groups. Interestingly, in the first 12 months, there was little difference in the outcomes for individuals receiving interventions. All groups (the control group who were not receiving trauma-informed services and the group who had interventions in place) experienced significant employment gains; however, by month 15 - the group with the interventions demonstrated 'statistically significant increase in earnings by month 12". It is believed that individuals engaging in services built around trauma-informed practices helps to build more self-efficacy, thereby securing and maintaining employment. 

I am interested in your thoughts on this article? Does this create a shift in how you will implement training in FY19? And do any programs already implement trauma-informed practices for their program? 

Looking forward to your thoughts. 



Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Thanks for sharing this research publication, Kathy.  I’ve only skimmed it, but it rang true for the work of many of the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselors I’ve worked with over the years.  These individuals often have to play the roles of both a counselor and adult educator, in order to help clients move from government support to competitive employment, and greater independence.  One of WIOA’s goals is to create better collaboration between agencies, in order to support the most vulnerable and disconnected members of our communities.  Together, adult educators and VR counselors need to practice trauma-informed approaches to serving our shared population.  I’d love to hear stories of how members are already practicing this with their learners in career pathways programs.