Designed for welfare-to-work recipient screening

Many unemployed people want to work, but have personal social and attitudinal problems that have become barriers to employment. This is particularly applicable to unemployed individuals who deny, minimize and, may even try to conceal their personal problems from others. Before anyone can adequately correct or engage in remedial treatment, they and their helpers must understand what the problem or problems are. Only then can people engage in effective, problem-solving programs.

Prior to problem awareness, employment readiness and employment, per se, usually involved trial and error. A much more effective technique uses a self-report test that is focused on specific issues, like: client truthfulness when screened, substance (alcohol and other drugs) abuse, work attitudes and motivation, and how well the client handles stress and pressure. The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) meets these needs.

The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) is discussed on Behavior Data Systems (BDS) website, and Welfare Screenings website

The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) is designed for welfare recipient screening, in welfare-to-work programs. The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) identifies and measures the severity of problems, (if present) with regard to the truthfulness or openness of the client while being screened, substance (alcohol and other drugs) abuse, work-related attitude and motivation, and stress (pressure) handling abilities.

Why develop the Self-Assessment Index? Job training, placement and employment success, often depend upon helping welfare recipients overcome barriers to employment. The most effective, welfare-to-work programs identify barriers to employment early, so staff can help participants overcome these obstacles. The SAI was, specifically, designed to meet these needs. Early identification of barriers to employment allow staff to refer needy individuals to appropriate intervention, counseling, and remediation programs available in their communities.

To be effective, staff must know the "severity" of the clientís (recipientís) problem(s). Severity of client problems is established by Self-Assessment Index (SAI) five (5), scales (measures). Staff can then match problem severity with treatment intensity. Most experienced assessors understand that matching problem severity to treatment program intensity is very important for intervention, counseling, and treatment success.

Five Self-Assessment Index Scales (Measures)

1. Truthfulness Scale: Measures how truthful the client (welfare recipient) was while completing the Self-Assessment Index (SAI). This scale identifies and measures the severity of denial, guardedness, problem minimization, and attempts to "fake good." Many new welfare recipients are skeptical and distrustful or suspicious when asked to provide personal information. Despite staff attempts to allay these concerns, some welfare recipients continue to deny and minimize their problems. This is where the Truthfulness Scale is important. The Truthfulness Scale score reveals when the client's Self-Assessment Index (SAI) scores are accurate, or distorted by the clientís denial, defensiveness, attempts to minimize their problems, etc. It is important that staff is confident that the test data is accurate, because it will influence their recommendations.

2. Alcohol Scale: Measures the severity of alcohol use and abuse. Alcohol refers to beer, wine, and other liquor. Alcohol use is frequently associated with vocational rehabilitation dropouts and sustained employment failures. When alcohol problems are present and not addressed, (e.g., Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, group counseling, intensive outpatient treatment, or inpatient treatment) the clientís drinking problem usually becomes worse.

3. Drug Scale: Measures "other drugs" use and abuse. "Drugs" refers to marijuana, crack, ice cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, ecstasy, heroin, etc. The Drug Scale measures the severity of illicit drug use or abuse. Drug abuse screening is important, because drug use is, increasingly, associated with vocational rehabilitation and sustained employment failure. The Drug Scale identifies illicit drug use and, when present, measures the severity of abuse. This enables staff to match drug problem severity with treatment, (educational classes, NA and CA meetings, group counseling, intensive outpatient treatment or outpatient treatment) intensity.

Inclusion of both the Alcohol Scale and Drugs Scale, helps identification of a clientís substance of choice, as well as polysubstance abuse. Most experienced staff would agree that substance (alcohol and/or other drugs) abuse is, often, a barrier to welfare recipient programs' drop-outs, obstacles to obtaining employment, and barriers to sustained employment.

4. Work Index Scale: Measures attitude and motivational factors that influence welfare recipient program success, obtaining a job, and sustained employment. Attitudes are shaped over years and are a complex product of experience and learning. They include enduring preferences, aversions, beliefs, and prejudices. Attitudes influence welfare recipientsí decisions and behavior. Many attitudes, such as how the welfare recipient perceives the value of working, work-related expenses (clothes, transportation, etc.), family support, (or lack of it) and child care responsibilities, etc., influence the success of many, welfare-to-work programs and recipients' subsequent success. The Work Index Scale helps staff better understand the clientís attitudes and motivation. With this awareness, staff can now help resolve many of these realistic and practical issues. Many of these motivational factors may seem trivial, but when taken together, they are important factors that influence welfare-to-work recipientís success. An elevated, Work Index Scale score is indicative of serious problems.

5. Stress Coping Abilities Scale: Measures how effectively the client handles stress (pressure, anxiety). Aside from alcohol and drugs, a common relapse trigger is stress - or more specifically, how the individual copes with stress. It is now known that stress, if not handled properly, exacerbates symptoms of mental and emotional problems. Thus, a very high (severe) Stress Coping Abilities Scale score (at the 90th percentile or above), it is, likely, that the client manifests an identifiable mental health problem. In these instances, referral to a certified/licensed, mental health professional might be considered.

Why use the Self-Assessment Index? The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) is an objective, welfare recipient, screening instrument or test, with impressive reliability, and validity. This testing procedure is fair and avoids extremes, i.e., over-identification or under-identification of barriers (problems) to employment. Indeed, more welfare recipients will receive needed help. Without a screening program, there is usually more risk of over or under utilization of additional, professional services.

The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) is a welfare recipient (client) test for use in welfare-to-work programs. The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) identifies barriers (problems) to employment. Simultaneously, the SAI measures problem severity. This enables staff to match problem severity and treatment program intensity, which facilitates quicker and more effective treatment. This is particularly important in welfare-to-work programs, like TANF, that must get welfare recipients gainfully employed within two (2) years.

The Self-Assessment Index (SAI) "SAI: Manual" explains the SAI and how it works. To review this document, click on this SAI Manual link.

A link to the discussion on "Reading Impairment testing" explains Behavior Data Systems' (BDS') proprietary alternative for reading impaired assessment. Some estimate that 20+ percent of welfare recipients have reading problems. BDSís Human Voice Audio program is available in English and Spanish. To date, it has resolved many, welfare recipientís reading and cultural differences issues. A welfare recipientís passive vocabulary (what they hear and understand) is, often, greater than their active (spoken) vocabulary. And, hearing items read aloud, often, helps reduce cultural and communication problems. Human Voice Audio requires a computer, earphones, and simple instructions, regarding how to operate the up-down, arrow keys on the computer keyboard. Without this, "Human Voice Audio" option, welfare-to-work programs could be limited.

Staff Training assistance is offered by BDS staff to departments, programs, and statewide agencies (U.S.) who are using (or going to use) the Self-Assessment Index. Sometimes, smaller agencies or departments coordinate a joint, Self-Assessment Index (SAI) training session. BDS prefers that these, training sessions incorporate a minimum of 25 attendees.

Free Examination Kits. A one-test, demonstration diskette is available on a 30 day, cost-free basis. Demo diskettes are provided in Windows format. A one time, Windows setup procedure is required. BDS asks that the demonstration diskette and test booklet are returned within 30 days.

Interested in more testing websites? If so, click on this, Testing Websites link.

Behavior Data Systems welcomes screeners', assessors', and evaluators' input. Our telephone number is (602) 234-3506, our fax number is (602) 266-8227, and our e-mail address is You're also invited to visit our website,

Behavior Data Systems, Ltd.
P.O. Box 44256
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4256

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