Engaging Parents in WorkFirst
1.4 First WorkFirst Engagement (Orientation)
The First WorkFirst Engagement (Orientation) section includes:
- 1.4.1 What is the WorkFirst engagement (Orientation)?
- 1.4.2 What happens during the first WorkFirst engagement?
- 1.4.3 What is covered during the first WorkFirst engagement?
- 1.4.4 eJAS/ACES codes
- 1.4.5 First WorkFirst Engagement - Step-by-Step Guide
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:
- Builds a positive working relationship.
- Engages and motivates.
- Shows "what's in it for you" and how they are responsible to take advantage of what the program offers.
- Demonstrates how employment, the Comprehensive Evaluation (CE) and participation are important responsibilities and opportunities.
- Gives information (like a choice to not participate can result in no cash grant) so the parent can be an active, informed partner in making decisions.
- Stresses that welfare is temporary and that work is the best avenue to provide a better life for them and their children.
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:
- Establish a positive rapport with the person you are working with-make a human connection.
- Ask open-ended questions and encourage the person to share his or her thoughts and feelings about what they want to do.
- Incorporate 'Talking Points' to focus on each person's strengths, responsibilities, and the consequences of their decisions, while addressing barriers.
- Give local resource information, in writing, for future reference.
- Encourage the person to call you any time if they have questions or concerns.
- Discuss WorkFirst expectations in a positive manner and be open about the consequences should they choose not to participate.
- Invite partners to share their messages and what they have to offer.
- Get parents into activities as soon as possible for as many hours as possible.
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||
|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:
|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:
- Makes a positive connection with each person.
- Provides an overview of the WorkFirst program, stressing all the opportunities that are available
- Provides accommodations for those who need them or who do not understand English.
- 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.
- Walks through DSHS 22-1125 with the parent
- Attaches business card and local resources; and
- Provides it to the person.
- Documents in eJAS any results of engagement and makes appropriate referrals and contacts.
For approved and likely to be approved WorkFirst applicants or returners:
- Complete the CE.
- 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.
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.