WorkFirst HandBook


3.2 Comprehensive Evaluation

Legal References:

Note:  The DSHS Annual and Returner Updates will not be available until August 22, 2014.
The Comprehensive Evaluation section is divided into three separate sub-sections: What is the Comprehensive Evaluation?

Everyone has skills and abilities needed in today's workforce. Weaving those skills and abilities with labor market realities and education levels is the cornerstone of the Comprehensive Evaluation (CE).

The CE is an automated tool for WorkFirst Program Specialists or WorkFirst Social Service Specialists to learn more about an individual's strengths, readiness and ability to succeed in the work place. There are a series of evaluations designed to help parents achieve better and quicker engagement in employment-related activities that lead to self-sufficiency.

The primary objectives of the CE are to:

The CE is the key tool in leading parents directly to employment since job search continues to be the most appropriate pathway for the majority of parents. For other parents, the CE leads to employment through training or employment programs and also identifies areas in which the parent may need additional support. In some instances, parents receive services to help resolve issues while participating in work related activities.

Active participation by the parent is essential. The CE is designated both as an engagement tool and the vehicle to move parents quickly to the most appropriate WorkFirst activity. The parent's involvement in the decision making process helps ensure the parent's success.

As we learn more about WorkFirst families and document that information in the comprehensive evaluation and the on-going observation notes, we can make better informed choices about their participation and achieve the goal of self-sufficiency.

eJAS notes provide a standalone screening for each category. This is an important feature for family violence, because this allows family violence screening to be completed when it is safe for the family member to do so. What is a Comprehensive Evaluation?

First, set a positive tone about getting to Career Scope and work. Ask: "How can I help you get to work?" Explain to the person that we ask screening questions to:

Second, start acquainting the person with workplace expectations, such as the need to show up on time, every day, and how to have reliable back up plans for child care and transportation.

Third, some of the questions in the CE touch on sensitive topics (like family planning, substance abuse, or domestic violence). Set some expectations with the person to make the conversation go easier. Tell the person that your interview will: What topics does the Comprehensive Evaluation cover?

As shown in the chart below, the CE covers all the topics needed to determine where the person is placed on the employment pathway. It also includes legally required screening for specific issues.

Below you will find a list of categories reflecting the required screenings for WorkFirst families. Dependent teens do not have a CE requirement; however, it is recommended to document the dependent teen's educational activities, or other pertinent information in the dependant teen's eJAS case in the appropriate category. Equal Access status and limited English proficiency screening occurs in ACES.

CE Topics

Part 1 – Screening for Urgent/Emergent Needs

Part 2 – Family Issues Part 3 – Employability

*This is a special record screen and highly protected.

For more information on CE topics and documentation please refer to the "Comprehensive Evaluation Documentation Guidelines" What does special records category mean?

All individual information is confidential under state and federal law. In eJAS, there are also four categories of client information, called "Special Records", with increased protection. These categories contain information about:

* Please note that DSHS staff is not required to screen for HIV/AIDS/STD. This is an optional category to be used when a parent voluntarily provides information about HIV/AIDS/STD issues that could interfere with WorkFirst work activities.

It is important to document these four topics only in the matching note type in eJAS. Invite the person to discuss the matter(s) directly with her or his service provider (such as her or his job service specialist). What does financial literacy evaluation mean?

For a variety of reasons many parents may lack the basic financial knowledge necessary to spend their money wisely, save for the future and manage money challenges. Financial literacy can provide families with tools for a smoother transition from a benefit-based to a wage-based income, and keep them from unknowingly entering into financially devastating credit arrangements. It is an essential element in parents' achieving financial stability, self-sufficiency and long-term financial well-being.

During the CE determine if financial literacy activity might be beneficial to the parent, and, regardless of the results, ask if the parent wants a referral to money management training available in the local community. (This is not a mandatory activity and does not have an eJAS code). Who must receive a Comprehensive Evaluation and when should it be conducted?

The CE is conducted by the WFPS in the Community Services Office (CSO) for:

Child only cases do not require the Comprehensive Evaluation.

NOTE: CSOs refer "likely to be approved" applicants to the CE to save time and engage the parent quicker (see likely to be approved definition)

The CE  is completed when the parent is approved (or likely to be approved) for WorkFirst cash assistance and stays active until the parent has been off TANF for at least 12 months., However, a new CE may be  done any time at staff discretion. (See Section 3.2.2Initial Comprehensive Evaluation.)

Staff will update the active CE when a parent exits and reapplies within 12 months.  DSHS and WorkFirst partners will also update recipient’s CE periodically.  (See Section 3.2.3Comprehensive Evaluation Updates.) What does "Continuous Activity Planning" mean?

"Continuous Activity Planning" (CAP) is an informal meeting or joint evaluation with the parent, available WorkFirst partner(s), DSHS co-workers and the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS). This meeting is to discuss the parent's progress and participation as well as a recommendation for the parent's next activity. This meeting can be conducted via phone or in person and must be documented in eJAS under the "Continuous Activity Planning" note type.

The WFPS or WFSSS must document: When is a new CE or CAP required?

The WFPS/WFSSS decides whether the parent needs a new CE or a CAP based on the last complete CE. This decision cannot be made based on a partial or incomplete CE.

Timeframe (from CE finish date) Situation Required Action
Complete Within 6 months

A parent is:

  • Transitioning to a new activity,
  • Not progressing in an activity, or
  • Failing to complete the current activity
Conduct a "Continuous Activity Planning" meeting.
Over 6 months A parent is progressing in the plan identified in the previous CE and moving onto the next step. Conduct a "Continuous Activity Planning" meeting.
Not progressing or participating

Update the CE as needed unless the parent is going back to their last required activity.

Every 12 months The family violence and family planning screenings are due. Complete the DSHS Annual CE Update (which completes the family violence and family planning screening). What does "likely to be approved" mean? What are the pathways of the Comprehensive Evaluation?

The following criterion is designed to help the WFPS make an informed decision about which employment pathway(s) is most appropriate for a parent after completing the CE.

CE recommendations should be designed to meet parents' needs while maximizing federal participation requirements. Refer to the Stacking Activities Chart when determining the appropriate stackable activities for the parent.

Prior to approving a referral to any of the employment pathways listed, parents must be advised of WorkFirst program requirements and their responsibility to participate in the activities identified in their Individual Responsibility Plan.

Parents should have approved child care and transportation plans in place prior to referral. Parents reporting to an activity without arranged childcare and transportation may be referred back as they are unable to begin participating as required.

If the CE results do not identify an appropriate pathway(s) based on the following criteria, a Continuous Activity Plan (CAP) may be conducted immediately.

Career Scope

Referrals to Career Scope may be appropriate for parents who:

Exception: Parents who are working full-time and want assistance finding a better job are appropriate for Career Scope services as long as they can come into the office at least once a week to receive assistance. Otherwise, they can be referred to the WorkSource Center as a self-directed job seeker.

Education & Training Activity

Referrals to Education & Training may be appropriate for parents who:

Community Jobs

Referrals to Community Jobs may be appropriate for parents who:

Job Connection Program

Referrals to Job Connection may be appropriate for parents who:

Career Development Program

Referrals to Career Development may be appropriate for parents who:

Referrals to Community Works may be appropriate for parents who:

Unsubsidized Employment

Parents may be in this pathway full- or part-time

LEP Pathway

Referrals to the LEP Pathway may be appropriate for parents who:

Issue Resolution

Parents may be in this pathway full- or part-time, depending on their ability to participate in work or work-like activities. Whenever possible, these issue resolution activities should be stacked with one of the above activities as appropriate.

Issue resolution activities assist in helping parents resolve issues, including:


Referrals to the Exempt Pathway may be appropriate for parents who:

3rd trimester of pregnancy Deferral

Infant Exemption Where is the Comprehensive Evaluation documented?

The CE is recorded in the CE screens in eJAS. The information, except special records, is accessible and readable by all the WorkFirst partners and will be used to make decisions regarding program participation and expectations. What does "parent involvement in decision making" mean?

Parent input is essential to an effective CE. We want and value the parent's input and take their desires and wishes into account when developing a plan.

However, a parent's wishes alone do not substitute for the CE and program pathway criteria. Parent input should not be the sole basis for deciding what activity a parent will participate in. A parent's wishes need to be factored into the larger picture, which includes family and health issues, education, skills and abilities, job availability, and training or rehabilitation resources.

Decisions on what pathway a parent participates in must first be made on the basis of program criteria and policy. At that point the parent's wishes should be a major factor in deciding on the pathway choice. How will the Comprehensive Evaluation be used to develop an Individual Responsibility Plan?

The results of the CE will be used to develop the IRP. It will indicate the best pathway for the parent and what support services WorkFirst will provide the parent to participate. Decisions will be made objectively and consistently, based on program policy criteria - See "Criteria for Decision Making" . The IRP will be developed by the WFPS and the parent to:

IRPs will be developed for longer-term activities if parents are participating in consecutive program elements. The expectation is that all activities are preparing parents to go to work. IRPs will be developed to find the best mix of activities, including for those clients who are participating in issue resolution activities. Parents will be expected to participate full-time.

WFPSs will use the criteria for developing an IRP and making referrals to a pathway as outlined in "Criteria for Decision Making" .

Community Jobs referrals will be made only for the parents least likely to succeed in attaining unsubsidized employment. Based on the CE results, CJ will be an option for those parents who have participated in other activities and have not been successful or where other activities may not be deemed appropriate. Can a parent be placed in sanction for failing to participate in the Comprehensive Evaluation?

Yes. If a parent fails to show to any CE appointment, the worker must go through the good cause process to determine if the parent had a good reason for not completing the CE. For more on excused and unexcused absences, see section - How do we treat excused and unexcused absences?

Sanction is a tool of last resort which will be used as a consequence for parents who refuse to participate in the WorkFirst program. It is very important to determine and document whether a person is refusing, or simply unable to comply. Comprehensive Evaluation: Step-by-Step Guide

Refer to the Application and Screening section for a step by step guide of the process leading to the determination of eligibility and the CE. Application information will be used as appropriate in terms of the CE and developing the parent's IRP.


  1. Conducts Positive Prevention strategies as part of the WorkFirst Cash Assistance application process. Child care, transportation and/or other needed support services are provided by DSHS staff at the time of positive prevention so the parent can complete the CE and prepare for employment pathway participation.
  2. Documents whether the person will need Equal Access accommodations to complete the application process and actively participate. (See Up-front referrals.)
  3. Uses the questions in the CE section in eJAS to complete the CE. (To view a list of all areas covered in the CE, refer to What topics does the CE cover? Section Determine who are returners and conduct the returner portion of the CE.
  4. Determines the appropriate employment pathway(s) using the information documented and the parent's input . ( To view the employment pathways refer to What are the pathways of the Comprehensive Evaluation? Section )
    • If the CE results do not identify an appropriate pathway(s) based on the following criteria, a CAP may be conducted immediately.
  5. Develops the IRP by:
    1. Using the criteria for developing an IRP and making referrals to employment pathway(s) activities as outlined in "Criteria for Decision Making".
    2. Documenting results from the CE in eJAS.
    3. Updating the IRP outlining the required activities and level of participation the parent must achieve.
    4. Opening the appropriate referral code(s) in eJAS.