WorkFirst HandBook

Resolving Issues

6.1 Overview

The Resolving Issues Overview section includes:

6.1.1 What is resolving issues?

Resolving issues begins with identifying issues that can interfere with a person's ability to look for work or work or participate in other WorkFirst activities. When issues are identified, we can provide necessary supports to help the parent engage in activities that will lead to employment.

Many WorkFirst individuals will need to resolve some issues to succeed in WorkFirst. People come to us without basic supports or perhaps, not much experience in being a working parent. And, although we may not even think of authorizing child care or making a family planning referral as "resolving issues" -- it is.

Many individuals come to us with more serious concerns that will take longer to resolve, like disabilities or family violence. It is important to start working through these problems as quickly as possible - and add other activities as soon as individuals are able - so they can start building on their strengths while eliminating some negatives.

Last, some individuals face issues so severe, that it is unlikely they will be able to enter the job market. WorkFirst Social Service Specialists (WFSSSs) may need to work intensively with these individuals, perhaps helping them apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

6.1.2 When do we resolve issues?

We look for issues that may need to be resolved at:

If issues are identified when a parent starts working or participating in WorkFirst activities, you should work with the individual to resolve these issues.

As shown in the chart below, the level of intervention required to work with issues varies, depending on the type of problem the person faces.

Issue Likely intervention
Lacks basic supports

Likely a shorter-term intervention by the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) to:

  • Refer for medical/dental care.
  • Provide child care (WFSSS may help find suitable child care).
  • Provide AREN to find or keep housing or refer for emergency housing.
  • Explore transportation options and provide support services to pay for it.
Lacks expert advice Likely a shorter-term intervention by the WFSSS (that can be combined with looking for work or work) to provide:
  • Prenatal care.
  • Family planning.
  • Parenting classes.
  • Child health/nutrition advice.
  • Legal advice.
Family & health concerns Likely requires a longer-term WFSSS intervention. These situations may need to be stabilized before adding other activities.
  • Caring for a child (or adult) with special needs.
  • Family violence.
  • Substantial physical/mental/learning disabilities.
  • Substance abuse/chemical dependency.
6.1.3 What are the principles for resolving issues?

There are some common themes you will see whenever we talk about resolving issues.

Overall principles for resolving issues

Identify and begin to resolve issues as soon as possible to give the parent any additional supports they need to succeed.

The purpose of issue resolution is to help the parent find ways to participate in WorkFirst activities while also assuring the family's medical and other needs are addressed. Employment remains a major focus with self-sufficiency as the ultimate goal.

Temporary deferments may be necessary and appropriate in some situations. Most parents, however, want to work and may see work as very therapeutic in helping them cope with other concerns.

Finding creative ways for the parent to participate without a temporary deferment is usually the best option. It is often possible to accommodate a family's special needs while at the same time supporting the parent's employment efforts.

Resolving issues, while encouraging employment, can help us increase WorkFirst cash assistance exits, reduce WorkFirst returns, and keep caseloads down.

6.1.4 What is the role of the WorkFirst Program Specialist?

The WFPS is a central player in identifying issues. He or she collaborates with the WFSSS and other service providers to:

6.1.5 What is the role of the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist?

The WFSSS plays a key role in providing screening, assessment, referral services, and has valuable expertise in intensive case management for individuals. The WFSSS coordinates services with other WorkFirst partners and other service providers as needed. WFSSSs assist in helping parents resolve issues, including:

Upon referral the WFSSS will:

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections
Other Resources