WorkFirst HandBook

Engaging Parents in WorkFirst

1.4 First WorkFirst Engagement (Orientation)

Legal References:

The First WorkFirst Engagement (Orientation) section includes:

1.4.1 What is the first WorkFirst engagement (Orientation)?

Orientation has changed. We call it the first WorkFirst engagement now and it isn't a one-time event. It's not group sessions in most Community Services Offices (CSOs). WorkFirst engagement is all about building a rapport with each parent, one on one, and getting them directly involved in making decisions. This is when you start sending a consistent, positive message about what WorkFirst can offer, and how the choices they make now can affect their grant and their ability to move on to a better future. Let parents know you want to support them in activities so they can earn a living for their family.

A powerful WorkFirst engagement:

1.4.2 What happens during the first WorkFirst engagement?

The WorkFirst Program Specialist/Social Service Specialist conducts the first session after WorkFirst cash assistance approval to provide a broad overview of the WorkFirst Program. Subsequent contacts with the person will provide other opportunities to engage the person in WorkFirst activities.

When presenting WorkFirst opportunities:

1.4.3 What is covered during the first WorkFirst engagement?

As shown in the chart below, there is some basic material that should be covered.

The first WorkFirst engagement includes.

An Introduction to WorkFirst
  • Everyone participates and does the best they can!
  • A job, a better job, a better life
  • Work pays!
  • WorkFirst = Options
  • Supports are available
Comprehensive Evaluation All newly approved and likely to be approved WorkFirst applicants will receive a comprehensive evaluation that will provide the framework for future activities in WorkFirst.
The Employment Pathway & How Work Pays Give a written and oral demonstration, including a description of child care, support services and other benefits (like EITC) available to working families. See "Talking Points"
WorkFirst Time Limit Information and a reminder about the five-year time limit (Possible WorkFirst Cash Assistance Extension at 60 months)
Rights, Responsibilities & Consequences Explanation of the person's rights, responsibilities, participation requirements & sanction. The key message here is that WorkFirst offers many supports and services to help get through a temporary situation, but parents must participate in the program and take advantage of the supports designed to help them find and keep a job. It is important for them to understand that if they chose not to participate, they risk losing their cash grant.Explanation of the person's rights, responsibilities, participation requirements & sanction. The key message here is that WorkFirst offers many supports and services to help get through a temporary situation, but parents must participate in the program and take advantage of the supports designed to help them find and keep a job. It is important for them to understand that if they chose not to participate, they risk losing their cash grant.
Working Relationship Emphasize that this is a working relationship and that open communication can help the parent succeed sooner and avoid problems like sanction.
DSHS Responsibilities The department must provide appropriate support services and child care while the person is in required activities
Post-Employment Services Introduce people to the types of services available once they are working 20 hours or more per week (WorkFirst & post-WorkFirst)
Post TANF Employment Services

Specific types of services and information may vary from office to office but should include:

  • Opportunities for accessing training - skills upgrade.
  • Mentoring, coaching, and employment counseling.
  • Resource information for accessing:
    • Money Management classes
    • Work Skill Assessment
    • Labor Market Information
    • Community Resources - Food Banks, Utilities Assistance, Community Action Programs
Local WorkFirst Services Let people know what types of programs and services are available in your area .
WorkFirst Opportunities Brochure (DSHS 22-1125) A required publication which provides an overview of the WorkFirst program, as well as local community resources.
Q&A Give people a chance to ask questions.
1.4.4 e-JAS/ACES codes

There are no WorkFirst engagement e-JAS or ACES codes.

1.4.5 First WorkFirst Engagement - Step-by-Step Guide

The WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist:

  1. Makes a positive connection with each person.
  2. Provides an overview of the WorkFirst program, stressing all the opportunities that are available
  3. Provides accommodations for those who need them or who do not understand English.
  4. Uses WorkFirst Talking Points to make sure the person gets a good understanding of the employment pathway, their responsibility to take advantage of what the program offers, how work pays and that they risk losing their cash grant if they decide to not participate.
  5. Walks through DSHS 22-1125 with the parent
    1. Attaches business card and local resources; and
    2. Provides it to the person.
  6. Documents in eJAS any results of engagement and makes appropriate referrals and contacts.

For approved and likely to be approved WorkFirst applicants or returners:

  1. Complete the CE.
  2. Write an IRP with the parent based on the CE, input from the parent, and the stacking strategy.
    • If the CE results do not identify an appropriate pathway(s), a CAP may be conducted immediately.
  3. Refer the parent to the appropriate pathway(s) identified by the CE using the appropriate code(s).
  4. Refer for crisis intervention services, as needed, if issues are identified.
  5. Meet with parent at follow-up appointment to update IRP as needed.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections
Forms & Other Resources

Please note that WorkFirst Opportunities brochure [DSHS 22-1125] replaces all the other required list of publications that were required for WorkFirst parents. The only exception to this rule is the Open the Door brochure [22-265], which will continue to be a required WorkFirst publication.