Trauma support could drastically help the population who receives welfare to succeed.

_Mariana Chilton

Chilton is the director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health.

The state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program focuses on pushing welfare recipients into the workforce, with little support for conditions that might limit recipients’ opportunities or ability to secure competitive pay. A new study led by the Center for Hunger-Free Communities of the Dornsife School of Public Health shows that there could be better outcomes for those participating in welfare if they received help addressing childhood traumas.

More than 100 TANF recipients who are caregivers to young children participated in the study. Those who received the trauma-informed peer support experienced improvement in self-confidence, mental health and economic security.

“Financial education without the trauma-informed peer support had virtually no impact on improving income and in promoting health,” says Professor Mariana Chilton. “Once the trauma-informed peer support was mixed in, income started to improve and mental health for the parent really improved.”

With the study conducted with encouragement from the state, Chilton hopes that it can be added to current TANF programming.