WorkFirst HandBook

Paid & Unpaid Employment

8.3 Community Jobs

Legal References:

The Community Jobs section includes:

8.3.1 What is Community Jobs?

Community Jobs (CJ) is a full time (40 hours per week), WorkFirst (WF) activity that provides participants with paid, temporary employment. CJ is a paid work experience of up to six months, which combines 20 hours per week in a temporary subsidized job (considered employment) with 10 hours per week of stacked activities and 10 hours per week of issue resolution (considered preparing for work). With the Department of Commerce's (Commerce) approval, a participant may participate for an additional three months. CJ gives these individuals the opportunity to gain experience in an employment setting while increasing their income, skills and self-confidence. CJ is a one-time program, however exceptions may be made through CJ Contractors (Contractors) and Commerce. Commerce administers the CJ Program statewide and local contracting partners deliver direct services.

A Community Jobs enrollment:

8.3.2 Who needs Community Jobs?

CJ may be an option for participants who:

8.3.3 Partner roles in Community Jobs

CJ participants are engaged in more than one activity at a time specifically identified to meet their individual needs. This is a multi-partner effort. Partners include, but are not limited to, Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Employment Security Department (ESD), State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and Commerce. It is important to keep the participant moving steadily toward independence from WorkFirst. One way to do this is to ensure smooth transfers from one activity to another.

8.3.4 Community Jobs and Stacked Activities

Education activities can include high school equivalency, basic skills, ESL, or job skills training. When available, education components should be co-enrolled with the local community or technical college. Education/training can also be provided by other resources when the community or technical college is not a viable option and Commerce approval is obtained. Job skills training must provide job skills required by an employer to provide a participant with the ability to obtain employment or to advance at the workplace. Job skills training can include training to meet the needs of a specific employer or it can be general training that prepares a participant for employment. This can include literacy/language instruction when it is explicitly focused on skills needed for employment.

In the event job skills training classes are not available through the community and technical college system, contractors may directly provide such services or connect the participant with a community based provider.

Life Skills training is training that prepares participants to meet the demands of everyday life and employment. It may or may not be employment related and is not intended to completely address and resolve family issues. It is intended to be an up-front introduction that helps prepare participants to participate in activities effectively. Programs are locally designed and operated to maximize available resources to best serve the participants within the community.
Life Skills training may include such topics as:

Job Readiness training is training that prepares participants for an effective job hunting experience.  Job Readiness training may include such topics as:

Voluntary Community Service is an opportunity for participants to volunteer in family centered activities with their child’s school, childcare, HeadStart, ECEAP, Boys & Girls Clubs, adult care facility, etc.  Court ordered community service also qualifies as long as it is unrelated to the CJ worksite job.  Community service hours can be up to 10 hours per week and cannot exceed the maximum allowed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

All stacked activity components must be supervised daily and attendance records must be maintained. If the co-enrolled activity is provided by a WorkFirst partner the appropriate component must be coded with the provider's contractor code. That provider is responsible for reporting participation and progress (if applicable) in eJAS. See Monitoring Participation chapter 3.9.

The remaining 10 hours per week will focus on employment barriers and activities to assist participants in obtaining and maintaining unsubsidized employment. These activities are not coded as eJAS components; they are requirements within the participant's IDP.

All activities must be documented in the Individual Development Plan (IDP) with specific details regarding schedules and monthly progress updates.

If the subsidized CJ job ends and the participant has not yet found unsubsidized employment, the participant should be referred back to DSHS for the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or WorkFirst Social Worker (WFSSS) to complete a referral to ESD for full-time Career Scope services. The Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) should be changed to show Career Scope services for 40 hours per week.

8.3.5 How do Commerce contractors calculate homework hours when they are the contractor of record for stacked activities?

Commerce Contractors will use the Education & Training Homework Requirements Worksheet to determine and report actual hours including homework. The Commerce Contractor will:

8.3.6 Community Jobs and Domestic Violence

If participants are working on resolving or coping with family violence and are also participating in Community Jobs, CJ staff should:

  1. Support participants in meeting participation requirements, considering the safety of participants and their families.
  2. Assist in developing appropriate work activities for the participant that does not put the participant at further risk of family violence, make it more difficult for the participant to escape family violence or penalize them for being family violence survivors.
  3. Consider and discuss with the participants the ramifications of sharing information related to family violence with employers and co-workers, considering what other employees may need to know to safely support the participant, and provide briefings to the placement site if participants have given their informed consent.
  4. Review whether the Contractor has exhausted all options for addressing the specific barriers to participation in getting and keeping a job.
  5. Outline the requirements of the CJ Program. Let participants know that there are people who can help them work through whatever emerges as they work through the program.
  6. Refer the participants back to the WFPS with recommendations if they do not or cannot follow through with the requirements of the CJ Program and you have done all you can do to assist.
  7. Never record participants' actual street address(s) in WF records if they participate in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). CJ staff must use the ACP mailing address as shown in the Client Demographics Screen in eJAS in place of the participants' actual street address for mailing purposes and in place of an employer's name and address on employment screens. Hourly wage and other non-disclosing information may be entered and updated.
  8. Discuss with the participant that information they disclose concerning family violence will be recorded in the system and the WFPS/WFSSS will have access to them. Reassure participants that the information is kept highly protected among WF partners for whom a signed release has been received. Also assist them in making contact with the WFPS/WFSSS for the purpose of connecting with workers or community partners who may assist in coping with or resolving family violence issues.
8.3.7 CJ Individual Development Plan

The Contractor will work with the participant to develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) in eJAS. The IDP will detail all aspects of participants' activities while in the CJ Program to include employment information like work location and schedule, education co-enrollments, barriers and barrier management plans, details of all co-enrollment activities, progress updates, and various program reviews. All details of the CJ Program should be included in the IDP so the participant has a full understanding of their program expectations, activities, and accountability. If they are not participating in all activities detailed in their IDP, they may be sanctioned for non-participation.

CJ participants are required to sign their initial IDP that is developed with their Commerce contractor.  Whenever their program expectations or requirements change, the Commerce contractor will update the IDP.  Anytime an update is made to the IDP regarding a change in the program expectations or requirements, the Commerce contractor will either have the participant sign the most updated plan, or they will get verbal approval from the participant.

The IDP can be updated by the Contractor; WFPS/WFSSSs have access to view the IDP by opening it from the link on the participant's main screen in eJAS.

Note: If the participant is involved with the ACP (Address Confidentiality Program), do not enter the worksite information. The Contractor will enter "ACP" instead of the actual worksite name.

8.3.8 CJ and Support Services

Prior to authorizing Support Services to a CJ participant, WF partners should access Support Services in eJAS to ensure the guidelines for each category have not been exceeded. Support Services will then be authorized.

8.3.9 Start of CJ Employment

Parents should be placed on a worksite within 10 business days from the First Contact meeting when they started their IDP. The start date of a participant's CJ Program begins on the first day on the paid CJ worksite (considered enrollment). The Contractor will enter this date in the Actual Start Date column of the Contractor Caseload Screen.

Parents can be placed into Life Skills training or begin contractor provided stacked activities while waiting for placement in a work site.

The following fields on the eJAS Employment screen will be completed by the Contractor once the Contractor confirms the participant has started CJ employment and is receiving wages:

When the CJ enrollment ends:

The Contractor will enter the following information in the Employment Screen:

The WFPS/WFSSS will complete the following:

8.3.10 Budgeting CJ Income

When the CJ employment begins, the WFPS enters CJ income type and the anticipated gross income amount on the ACES EARN Screen. These entries will automatically set up the:

Please note: The first month the participant receives their first CJ paycheck(s), the CJ paycheck(s) is disregarded for WorkFirst/SFA. Example: participant begins working at CJ worksite on 9/16/2013 and receives first paycheck(s) on 10/10/2013 and 10/25/2013. The income is disregarded for the month of October. The start date the worker will enter for the month of October is 10/1/13.

In the ongoing month (the month the participant will receive their first CJ paycheck), the start date is the first of the month the participant receives the check. The worker must make sure to properly code the income and the hours in the ongoing months.

To capture the historical CJ hours, after the ongoing month is updated, the worker will go into a minimum of 2 historical months (unless the participant was placed on the job site less than 2 months ago). The worker will update the ACES EARN screen using:

ACES will generate an alert #413 in the 2nd and 5th months of participation to notify the user that a review is due. An alert (#414) is generated in the beginning of the ninth month of CJ participation. Confirm when the CJ job will actually end in the 5th month (and double check in the 9th month for cases will be in CJ longer than six months) and enter that date in the end date field, removing the income.

8.3.11 Hold Process

If a participant starts on the CJ worksite and a situation arises that requires them to be temporarily removed from the CJ Program, a case staffing should be held with the WF partners.

Reasons for a temporary hold could include:

Once the hold issue has been resolved, the participant should resume their CJ Program.

8.3.12 Stacking CJ with Part Time Job Search

When the CJ Contractor decides a participant is within 4 weeks of being job ready, the participant's CJ component can be stacked with a part time job search component, providing it does not interrupt or conflict with the participant's completion of other stacked activities. If the scheduled end date of the CJ component is more than 4 weeks away, the CJ component will be backed down to end in 4 weeks from the referral to part time job search. The participant will be transitioned to full time job search at the end of the 4 week CJ-JS period.

If during the 4th week of part time job search it does not appear the participant is ready to accept employment, a CAP can be done to identify a different activity or to continue in Community Jobs.

The Contractor will:

  1. Determine the hours of the part time job search, between 10-15 hours per week
  2. Contact the WFPS who will create the referral.
  3. Update the participant's IDP to reflect the new stacked activity.
  4. Document the actions taken in eJAS notes, including:

At the end of the 4 weeks of part time job search, the participant will transition to full time job search if they have not obtained unsubsidized employment.

The WFPS will:

  1. Create the RI component to complete the referral for part time Career Scope activities.
  2. Change the end date of the CJ component to 4 weeks out, if the CJ end date is longer than 4 weeks away.
  3. Document actions taken in eJAS notes.


Agency/worker roles in Community Jobs

WF Program Specialist

  • Refers to CJ Contractor using the CJ component code and IRP template.
  • Creates the CJ component for 20 hours per week.
  • Ensures cash aid and pre-enrollment support services are provided.
  • Ensures that the participant has child care and a transportation plan.

Community Jobs Contractor

  • Receives electronic referral.
  • Reviews the participant's eJAS file for program eligibility, including previous referral and engagement in the CJ Program. If previous CJ involvement, contact Commerce to obtain approval to re-engage/re-enroll the participant.
  • Makes first contact with participant within 5 business days from date of the referral.
  • Accepts or rejects the referral within 6 business days of the date of referral.
  • Enters the First Contact information.
  • Creates an initial IDP during the First Contact meeting.
  • Ensures that the participant signs the IDP.
  • Develops a subsidized job.
  • Enters the Actual Start Date in the Contractor Caseload screen when the participant begins at a worksite.
  • Creates the Employment Screen in eJAS.
  • Acts as the employer of record and provides CJ wages.
  • Provides support services during CJ enrollment.
  • Arranges for full time participation (40 hrs per week) in the IDP.
  • Identifies and arranges for a minimum of 10 hours per week of stacked activities.
  • Notifies WFPS/WFSSS of the stacked activities, hours and provider for eJAS coding.
  • Monitors attendance, participation and progress for all co-enrollment activities coded to their contractor code. Documents progress in the participant's IDP.
  • If the Contractor is also the provider for co-enrolled education activities the Contractor will report attendance and participation via the actual hours reporting screens in eJAS.
  • The Contractor will identify and arrange for an additional 10 hours per week of barrier management or employment related services. The activities will be documented in the IDP and not coded in eJAS.
  • Update the IDP on a monthly basis
  • Enter case notes throughout the participant's CJ program.
  • Close the IDP and CJ Employment Screen when the participant is no longer enrolled in the program.
  • Electronically refer the participant back to DSHS via the Contractor Caseload Screen

Community and Technical Colleges

  • WF Foundation Basic Skills
  • GED
  • ESL
  • Other WF training options including Job Skills Training

Other Service Providers

  • May be part of stacked services to resolve difficult issues (like family violence, medical issues, and/or additional training opportunities)


8.3.13 Community Jobs - Step-by-step guide
  1. The WFPS will refer the participant to the Contractor using the:
    1. CJ component code and CJ IRP template,
    2. Enter the CJ component code for 20 hours for 12 months.
    3. Advise the participant that they must meet with the Contractor within five business days.
    4. Advise the participant that they need to bring valid employment identification to the meeting with the Contractor. (The most common types of employment ID include driver's license or state identification card and social security or U.S. Permanent Resident Card.)
    5. Authorize support services up to the time of the CJ referral.
    6. Authorize needed full time child care.
  2. Upon receipt of the CJ referral, the Contractor will:
    1. Attempt to contact the participant to arrange the First Contact meeting
    2. If First Contact is made within 5 business days, the Contractor will accept the referral and complete the First Contact note with the specific details of the meeting.
      1. If First Contact is not made within 5 business days, the Contractor will reject the referral on the 6th business day.
    3. During the First Contact meeting, the Contractor will develop an initial IDP with the participant outlining their specific program activities including any pre-placement activities.
      1. Develop a host worksite for the participant
      2. Develop stacked activities for at least 10 hours per week.
      3. Contractors will need to notify the WFPS all stacked activities via e-message so the WFPS can create the appropriate component codes to support the activity.
      4. Develop action plans to address barriers.
      5. Identify and arrange for 10 hours per week of additional participation activities to resolve barriers or in employment related activities. These activities are not coded components in eJAS.
      6. Job Search should not be coded as a co-enrollment activity while enrolled in the CJ program unless the participant is job ready. Please refer to section 8.3.12 - Stacking CJ with Part Time Job Search.
    4. Once the participant begins at the worksite the Contractor will:
        1. Enter the date the participant started at the worksite in the Actual Start Date column of the Contractor Caseload Screen.
        2. Create an Employment Screen in eJAS with the worksite information, and
        3. Update the participant's IDP to reflect the worksite information and requirements.
  3. Once the Contractor enters the Actual Start Date in the Contractor Caseload Screen, the WFPS will:
    1. Fix the discrepancy between the Scheduled Start Date on the Contractor Caseload Screen and the Actual Start Date on the Contractor Caseload Screen by changing the Scheduled Start Date to match the Actual Start Date. This will remove the black triangle from the Contractor Caseload Screen that explains that the Scheduled Start Date does not match the Actual Start Date. It will also remove the exception from DSHS' Client Accountability Report (CAR.)
    2. Enter CJ wage information into eJAS and ACES. See EA-Z Manual for CJ income budgeting information.
    3. Refers participant, if appropriate, to the local Division of Child Support office to discuss a possible modification of his/her support order.
  4. Once the Contractor identifies the stacked activity they will notify the WFPS/SW of the specific activity, provider and number of hours per week. A minimum of 10 hours per week will be coded in eJAS. The remaining 10 hours of activities will be documented in the IDP but not coded components in eJAS.
  5. Upon notification of the stacked activity, the WFPS/SW will create the appropriate component with the provider's contractor code and number of hours per week. Creating the additional component will generate an IRP for that activity.
  6. For the duration of the 6-month CJ placement, the Contractor will:
    1. Report attendance for any stacked activities with their contractor code as the service provider.
    2. Maintain attendance records for all activities.
    3. Ensure the IDP details full-time participation (40 hours a week).
    4. Send an immediate notification in eJAS to the WFPS upon 2 excused or 2 unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section Reporting.
    5. Update the IDP monthly, regarding co-enrollment activities and progress.
    6. Enter case notes into eJAS.
  7. At the completion of a participant's CJ Program (or anytime the participant leaves the CJ Program), the Contractor will:
    1. Initiate the final review of the CJ enrollment with the participant and the WFPS, recommending next steps to move them into unsubsidized employment.
    2. Close the CJ worksite Employment Screen.
    3. Enter the date and select the "reason" code on the Contractor Caseload Screen to electronically refer them back to DSHS.
    4. If they have obtained unsubsidized employment, the Contractor will create a new Employment Screen with the new information; or update current worksite with unsubsidized employment information.
    5. Complete the Exit Section of the IDP.
  8. Upon completion of the CJ Program, the WFPS will:
    1. Close the CJ component and the contractor code by entering the actual end dates in the Actual End field in the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen.
    2. Update the CJ wage information (when CJ ends) in eJAS and ACES.
    3. Initiate the final review of the CJ enrollment with the participant and the WFPS/WFSSS, recommending the next steps to move the participant to full-time (40 hours) Career Scope services.
    4. Refer the participant to ESD for Career Scope services using the RI referral code with 40 hours.
    Hold Process
  9. Upon agreement with the WF partners to place the participant on hold, the Contractor will:
    1. Electronically refer the participant back to DSHS by entering the date and selecting the "Issue Resolution" reason code.
    2. Complete the Hold section of the IDP.
    3. Close eJAS employment screen.
  10. The WFPS will:
    1. Close the CJ component and the contractor code by entering the actual end dates in the Actual End field in the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen (if applicable).
    2. Refer to appropriate activity and component while in Hold status (If applicable)
    3. Reinstate his/her WorkFirst grant (if applicable).
  11. Upon agreement with the WF Partners to return them to the CJ Program, the WFPS will:
    1. Close the active Hold component (if applicable)
    2. Repeat Steps 1, 3 and 5 above to create CJ component referral.
  12. Upon receipt of the CJ referral, the Contractor will:
    1. Repeat Steps 2 and 4 to accept the participant back into the CJ program.
    2. Complete the Hold section in the IDP.
    3. Re-evaluate current IDP and update.
    4. Connect the participant back to a worksite.

Once the participant is re-engaged from the Hold, steps 7 through 10 above should be followed.

Note: WF attendance requirements apply.


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