WorkFirst HandBook

8.4 Career Development Program

Legal References:

The Career Development Program section includes:

The Department of Commerce contracts with local community-based organizations to provide and manage the Career Development Program for WorkFirst participants.

Participants in an education pathway can be referred to the Career Development program to coordinate a worksite with a Commerce contracted case manager who designs and manages the work requirement. Participants are placed on a worksite and supervised by a Worksite Supervisor who provides daily supervision and work training. This program is designed to provide unpaid employment skills and experience to support the education pathway for up to twelve months.

When the participant is enrolled in an education pathway targeted at a specific career outcome, the worksite will be designed to provide entry level experience in that field.  For participants in a more generic education pathway, worksites will be identified based on the individual’s identified career goals.  Worksites will be co-located on campus when possible.

8.4.1. What is Career Development?

The Career Development program is an unpaid, long term, work experience program that is structured to provide core work activity for WorkFirst participants to coincide and support their education pathway for up to 12 months. The Career Development program establishes a worksite for the participant to obtain the specific skills, training, knowledge, and experience necessary to obtain employment in the participant's chosen career field.

The Career Development program is designed to improve the employability of recipients not otherwise able to obtain employment without experience and must be supervised by a worksite supervisor daily. Placement into the Career Development program must take into account the participant’s education and personal employment goals to determine an appropriate worksite.

8.4.2 What are the Career Development referral criteria?

Career Development is intended to provide employment experience that supports a participant’s education pathway and is meant to “add value” to participants’ programs. This means that the work experience increases participants’ employability through industry related work experience and increases skills.

Participants will be enrolled in their work activity for up to 12 months to coincide with their education plan. Worksites will be co-located on campus when possible and provide work experience to support the specific education pathway.

Participants are required to maintain enrollment in the education activity to remain in the Career Development Program.

Career Development hours can also be used to bring a participant up to full-time participation when the education hours aren’t enough. However, for such a referral, the work experience must “add value” and is not intended to solely meet participation requirements. Referral components for less than five hours will be reviewed by both DSHS staff when they are creating the referral and Commerce WorkFirst contractors upon intake to determine whether a work experience would truly “add value”. See the FLSA/Deeming and Stacking Activities sections for more information about how we use participation in the Career Development program to meet participation requirements.

Examples of a Career Development referral are:

The WorkFirst Program Specialist/Social Service Specialist (WFPS/WFSSS) will:

8.4.3 Career Development Engagement

Career Development work assignments must be coordinated with public or nonprofit organizations and provide job training in the participant's chosen career field.

Participants are expected to make first contact with the contractor within five (5) business days of the referral with a childcare and transportation plan. Contractors will attempt to contact participants by telephone, email if available, or direct face-to-face meeting if the contractor is on-site at the time of referral. First contact is defined as an actual face-to-face meeting between the contractor and the participant.

If first contact is not made within five (5) business days then the contractor will reject the referral on the 6th business day.

Contractors will meet with the participant to review the results of the Comprehensive Evaluation (if applicable), the participant’s education IRP and the participant's education plan to determine an appropriate work activity.

Contractors will provide program orientation to participants regarding program policies and expectations.

8.4.4 Worksite Placement:

Participants will be placed in a work activity no later than 10 business days of first contact. Initial activities can include workplace training and orientation directly related to the worksite. Examples of the training may include safety, workplace competencies, customer service, basic computer skills, work specific skills, etc.  Worksites will be co-located on campus whenever possible.

Contractors will establish worksites and ongoing worksite management to include:

8.4.5 Career Development Plan/Worksite Agreement:

The contractor will work with the participant to develop a Career Development Plan and sign a worksite agreement. The host worksite administrator and the contractor must sign a worksite agreement. A copy of the signed worksite agreement must be on file with the contracting agency.

Work assignments must have a position description that clearly details the work schedule, duties, and transferable skills being obtained. The worksite supervisor and the participant must sign the position description. Copies of the signed agreement must be provided to the participant, the worksite supervisor and maintained in the participant's file.

Information regarding the participants work schedule, duties and skills will be entered into the Career Development Plan in eJAS. Career Development participants are required to sign their initial Career Development Plan that is developed with their Commerce contractor.  Whenever their program expectations or requirements change, the Commerce contractor will update the plan.  Anytime an update is made to the plan 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 Career Development Plan can be updated by the Contractor; WFPS/WFSSSs have access to view the Career Development Plan 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.

8.4.6 Worksite Supervision:

Worksite supervisors are required to provide an employee evaluation for every participant on a monthly basis. Contractors will report information from the evaluations on monthly participation and progression updates via eJAS.

Worksites will be supervised on a daily basis. The worksite supervisor must maintain daily attendance records. If a participant does not show up for work, the absence must be reported immediately to the contractor.

8.4.7 Reporting:

Worksite supervisors will submit attendance records every two weeks to the contractor. The contractor will enter the attendance records in the actual hours reporting screens in eJAS (see Monitoring Participation chapter). Contractors will report attendance issues using the "Immed" column on the Contractor Caseload Screen:

After two absences (regardless of whether they are excused or unexcused) in one calendar month, the WorkFirst partner/provider will:

This allows the participant to remain in the activity while the service provider, case manager and participant have an opportunity to discuss whether participation in this activity is appropriate.

If it is decided that the activity is not appropriate for the participant, the WorkFirst partner/provider will refer the participant back to DSHS.

Contractors shall report the monthly participation and progression status of each participant using eJAS between the 1st and the 10th of the following month on the previous months' activities.

In addition to the worksite evaluation reporting, at the end of the 11th Month or one month prior to the end of the program, the contractor will include their suggestions for next steps at completion of the program. This will provide the WFPS/WFSSS information when they meet with the participant, resulting in a smooth transition between programs with minimal interruption in participation.

8.4.8 Support Services

Contractors may provide support services related to work activities. Prior to authorizing support services, contractors will review the eJAS Payment History to ensure the guidelines for the category have not been exceeded.

8.4.9 Closing a Career Development Program:

Anytime a participant is no longer enrolled the contractor will:

8.4.10 Career Development Program - Step-by-step guide
  1. The WFPS/WFSSS will:
    1. Refer the participant to the contractor using the WE component code:
    2. Create the component for up to 12 months to coincide with the education pathway IRP.
    3. Enter the number of hours the participant can work per week in the Scheduled Hours.
    4. Enter the Contractor Code.
    5. In the Referral Narrative, include the schedule for any stacked activities that may already be identified or specific information about the upcoming activity if the participant is pending the start of another activity.
    6. Authorize support services and child care needed for engagement with the program.
  2. Upon receipt of the referral, the contractor will:
    1. Attempt to contact the participant by telephone, or email if available, or a direct face-to-face meeting if the Contractor is on-site at the time of the referral. The contractor will document attempts to contact participants in eJAS case notes.
    2. Arrange First Contact meeting (actual face-to-face meeting) with the participant within five (5) business days from the referral.
    3. Review the referral information, program recommendation, results of the CE (if applicable), and the education plan to determine if the program recommendation is a good match and identify a worksite.
    4. "Accept" the referral if First Contact is made with the participant within five (5) business days of the referral.
    5. Complete the First Contact column on the Contractor Referral Screen and include details about the first contact with the participant.
      1. If the referred program does not appear to be the best fit for the participant, the contractor will include their recommendation and explanation in the First Contact Note as well. Additional discussions may be required for both partners to agree. If a different program is agreed to, the WFPS/WFSSS will update the component referral with the new component code.
    6. If First Contact is not made with the participant within five (5) business days the Contractor will "Reject" the referral on the 6th business day.
    7. Once accepted, the contractor will:
      1. Develop a work activity for the participant within 10 business days of First Contact.
      2. Create the worksite agreement and the Career Development Plan in eJAS.
      3. Enter the date the participant starts at a work activity in the Actual Start Date column on the Contractor Caseload Screen.
  3. Once the Contractor enters the Actual Start Date in the Contractor Caseload Screen, the WFPS/WFSSS will:
    1. Resolve 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.
  4. For the duration of the program, the contractor will:
    1. Enter monthly participation and progression status reports in eJAS between the 1st and the 10th of the following month on the previous month's activities.
      1. Participation reporting will include attendance documentation in the eJAS actual hours reporting screens.
      2. Progression reporting will be entered in the Career Development Plan that will include information from the worksite supervisor monthly evaluations of the participant's progress at the worksite.
        1. After the 11th Month in the program, or one month prior to the end of the program, in addition to the evaluation information, the contractor will provide suggestions for recommended next steps upon completion of the 6th Month.
    2. Notify the WFPS/WFSSS of attendance issues using the "Immed" column on the Contractor Caseload Screen if the participant has more than two absences within a calendar month.
    3. Document issues related to the work activity in eJAS case notes. Contractors will attempt to resolve worksite issues with the participant. Contractors will involve the WFPS/WFSSS immediately when issues arise that the contractor is unable to resolve or the issue is not related to work but is affecting the participant's ability to participate.
    4. Provide support services related to the participant's work activity. Support services will be documented in eJAS.
  5. At the completion of the program (or anytime the participant leaves the program), the contractor will:
    1. Close the Career Development Plan.
    2. Update case notes with exit information including the reason for leaving the program and suggestions for next steps for the participant.
    3. Enter the date and select the "reason" code on the Contractor Caseload Screen to electronically refer the participant back to DSHS
    4. Create an Employment Screen if the participant obtains unsubsidized employment.
    5. Send an e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS notifying them that the participant is no longer enrolled in the program.
  6. At completion of the program, the WFPS/WFSSS will:
    1. Close the component and the contractor code by entering the actual end dates in the Actual End field in the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen.
    2. Determine the participant's next activity.


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