WorkFirst Handbook

Welcome to the WorkFirst Handbook

Recent Updates and Memos for Staff

For more information about the WorkFirst HandBook, contact Jennie Fitzpatrick, WorkFirst Program Manager.

About WorkFirst Handbook

WorkFirst has Six Main Performance Goals

  • Reduce the TANF caseload
  • Increase the number of participants in unsubsidized jobs.
  • Increase the percentage of participants with earnings.
  • Increase the earnings of participants.
  • Reduce TANF returns.
  • Increase child support collections.

Participant Flow Chart

There are various stages a participant might go through to become independent of TANF. The process begins with an application for TANF cash aid and ends with a successful exit from the TANF program using job retention and wage and skill progression strategies for lasting gains. The interim steps include activities (like job search) and processes (like evaluation and helping the participant develop an IRP) that will help them meet their goals.

Not every participant goes through every stage. Our experience shows that people can find jobs and independence at any step in the process. This handbook has information about every stage in the program.

WorkFirst Partner Roles

The WorkFirst program mandates a new level of coordination between state agencies, tribal governments, and other key local area partners. Each WorkFirst partner has an important role to play and areas of expertise to contribute in helping participants achieve self-sufficiency.

You can find a link to a list of key WorkFirst partners and a description of the role they each play in the title of this section.

Local Area Planning

The WorkFirst program also instituted a formal process to coordinate between the state agencies and other WorkFirst partners. This process is called local area planning.

Washington State has been divided into local area planning groups. WorkFirst partners within each local area are held jointly accountable to work together and meet local area WorkFirst performance goals and targets. Each area's progress is measured and reported on a monthly basis.

We have included a link to the local area planning web page in the title of this section. If you visit this site you will find more information about local area planning groups and the monthly reports on their progress in meeting major WorkFirst targets and goals.

About the Handbook

Revised on: September 20, 2021

WorkFirst program staff at Economic Services Administration (ESA) of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) primarily wrote this handbook. Others contributing to the contents of this handbook include:

  • Employment Security Department (ESD)
  • The State Board for Community & Technical Colleges (SBCTC)
  • The Department of Commerce (Commerce)
  • Workforce Development Councils (WDC)
  • Tribal Governments and other partners
Handbook chapters cover the following topic areas:
Tools The tools we use to process cases (such as Individual Responsibility Plans and eJAS screening/evaluation)
Supports The supports we provide to participants (such as child care and support services)
Engaging Participants in WorkFirst  How we introduce participants to the WorkFirst program
The Pathways

The pathways participants may take to self-sufficiency include:

  • Career Scope – provides services to help participants find jobs
  • Community Jobs – paid work activity that help a participant prepare for work
  • Community Works – unpaid work activity that help a participant prepare for work
  • Education & Training – education and training programs that help participants build knowledge and skills needed for work
  • Employment - Services and requirements for employed participants
  • LEP – services provided to limited English proficiency participants
  • Issue Resolution - Working with issues that interfere with participants’ ability to work (like family violence)
  • Exempt – provides services to participants who may take alternative routes to self-sufficiency (like SSI)

Using the WorkFirst Handbook

Each section of the WorkFirst Handbook may have:

  • A legal reference list and key principles at the top;
  • The body of text in the center with special requirements, examples or activities notated in special fonts or colored boxes; and
  • A list of resources at the bottom.

The use of participant and parent/caregiver are interchangeable throughout this handbook. 

Desk Aids

This page contains useful desk aids.  Policy and procedure changes will result in revisions to this information.

Chapter 1: Engaging Parents in WorkFirst

1.1 Overview

Revised on: September 20, 2021

This WorkFirst Handbook (WFHB) section includes:

  • 1.1.1 How do we introduce participants to WorkFirst?
  • 1.1.2 What brought you here?
  • 1.1.3 What is the very first step?
  • 1.1.4 What are the next steps?
  • 1.1.5 What are the WorkFirst principles?

1.1.1 How do we introduce participants to WorkFirst?

How do you introduce participants to the WorkFirst program? You get them engaged, right from the start and begin to develop a trusting relationship. Tell them that WorkFirst offers many supports and services to help them through their temporary situation, but they must do their part by taking advantage of program opportunities to help them find and keep a job. They need to know that:

  • All mandatory WorkFirst participants must complete a WorkFirst Orientation;
  • WorkFirst can help connect participants to different opportunities, including employment;
  • There are people and resources available to provide support as we help them build a plan for their family; and
  • If they choose not to participate, they risk losing their cash grant.

1.1.2 What brought you here?

This is a very simple question that you should ask every applicant when they apply for WorkFirst. Their answer can give us important clues about how to get them off to a good start in the WorkFirst program.

Begin by building a rapport and a partnership with the participant. Then focus on how they need to do their part and take advantage of WorkFirst supports and services to better their lives and become self-sufficient.

Perhaps this is their first time on public assistance and they only came in because they faced an unexpected crisis, like illness, divorce, or job loss. Emphasize all the services WorkFirst offers, get the participant connected to the right programs, and help guide them down the path to economic stability.

For returning families, start off talking about how they managed to leave WorkFirst before, what happened while they were off, and what made them reapply. Knowing what worked for them in the past can help you figure out where to start in getting them back on track.

1.1.3 What is the very first step?

First you deal with the immediate financial crisis. You:

  • Review every other resource available to the participant such as child care, unemployment compensation, social security benefits, labor and industries compensation, or other local resources.
  • Explore if Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA) would stabilize their family's situation. If they chose DCA:
    • Determine eligibility for Basic Food, and
    • Remind the participant that if they go on WorkFirst cash assistance within one year, this becomes a loan that they have to repay.
  • If the participant declines DCA, determine eligibility and authorize benefits for TANF cash assistance and Basic Food.
  • Provide information for resources (like Health Benefits Exchange, food banks or emergency housing) to maintain the family until their public assistance benefits are approved .
  • Get information about the noncustodial parent(s) and make a referral to the Division of Child Support to get child support collections started.

1.1.4 What are the next steps?

The next step is to tell the participant about the WorkFirst program, it's message, "A job, a better job, a better life" and how they can earn a living for their family. Be sure to explain that TANF is a temporary program and they are responsible to participate in the WorkFirst. They may not remember everything you are telling them, particularly if they are in crisis mode the first time you meet. This makes it very important to continue WorkFirst engagement throughout a person's stay on assistance.

The following sections of this chapter describe the other important "first steps" you take with newly approved WorkFirst families: setting appropriate participation requirements, making referrals and orienting them to the program. The chart below shows the initial work you do to help families become engaged as quickly as possible.

Triage the case for required…
Engagement

Explain program participation requirements and the participant's responsibility to participate. Let them know that if they choose not to participate, they risk losing TANF benefits.

Participation

Determine what the family's WorkFirst participation requirements will be. Is someone in the family:

  • Exempt from participation?
  • Pregnant (third trimester) or parenting an infant?
  • A pregnant or parenting minor (unmarried and under the age of 18)?
  • In need of stabilization or issue resolution?
  • Able to participate in work or work activities?
Up-front referrals All families must get family planning and family violence information and be offered referrals for more in-depth follow-up.
Orientation Reach out to all adult members of the family; tell them what is available, what you expect from them and what you can do for them.
Comprehensive evaluation Let the family know that they will receive a comprehensive evaluation to help get them into appropriate WorkFirst activities as quickly as possible.

1.1.5 What are the WorkFirst Principles?

Telling people the WorkFirst message is the best way to set the stage for a successful WorkFirst experience. Look at the program through their eyes and talk about it the way most people would. These parents want to earn a living for their family. Build on that.

A job, a better job, a better life. Eight words sum up the common goal of the many pieces that make up Washington WorkFirst.
A job… Paid work offers the best opportunity for families to escape poverty. A job is the best place to start.
A better job… The first job may be entry level or part-time. Once participants go to work — even if they earn enough to leave assistance –-WorkFirst continues to support them. WorkFirst participants can take advantage of training opportunities, job referrals, Basic Food benefits and help with child care, transportation and medical coverage. Even help managing the chaos of balancing work and home.
A better life… WorkFirst helps connect families to services that include: child care and early learning, transportation support, education and training (including, English language training), treatment for drug/alcohol addiction, and domestic violence services. All these things are offered to help people become more employable and improve quality of life for the entire family.
A job, a better job, a better life. Every story is different and every traveler takes his or her own unique journey. WorkFirst is there to help.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

1.2 Required Participation

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The Required Participation section includes:

  • 1.2.1 What is participation and how does it count?
  • 1.2.2 What are the WorkFirst participation requirements?
  • 1.2.3 What are the participation requirements for two-parent households?
  • 1.2.4 What is the participation requirement for single parents with a child under six?
  • 1.2.5 How do we determine the best employment pathway?
  • 1.2.6 When can someone participate in various WorkFirst activities?
  • 1.2.7 What does participation look like for families in crisis situations?
  • 1.2.8 What are contracted services?
  • 1.2.9 What if someone isn't exempt but can't participate in regular employment activities?
  • 1.2.10 What are the WorkFirst requirements for dependent teens and pregnant or parenting minors?
  • 1.2.11 Home schooling
  • 1.2.12 eJAS/ACES Codes
  • 1.2.13 Participation step-by-step guide

1.2.1 What is participation and how does it count?

Most participants are required to participate in work or work-related activities full-time, which is defined as "getting as close as possible to 40 hours per week," with a goal of at least 32 hours a week.  In order to develop a full-time Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) we count the actual hours involved in an activity.  When working with the participant to develop the IRP, it is very important that we make every effort to reach 40 hours of activities per week.

Work with the participants who aren't in full-time (32-40 hours) activity(ies) to ensure that every hour of activity is properly recorded in the IRP, as close to 40 hours a week as possible, with a minimum of 32 hours.  See the 3.3, Individual Responsibility Plan, section for more information on Individual Responsibility Plans.

Federal rules reduce funding for states that fail to meet a federal work participation rate.  To meet the rate, states must have a percentage of participants in the required number of hours of countable activities each month.  The percentage is higher for two parent families.

To be a two-parent family, neither parent can be:

  • An undocumented immigrant;
  • Disabled (on SSI/SSA disability or with a ZD exemption); or
  • Caring for a disabled family member (with a ZB or ZC exemption).

Federal rules define activities as "core" or "non-core".  As shown on the Core & Non-core Activity chart, some core activities only count for a limited amount of time.  This chapter outlines Washington’s WorkFirst participation requirements; however, a WorkFirst participant may be fully participating in WorkFirst activities and still not meet the federal work participation rate.

1.2.2 What are the WorkFirst participation requirements?

The chart below shows WorkFirst (WF) requirements for parents/caregivers who are able to participate and includes strengthened participation requirements. Most parents/caregivers are still required to participate 32-40 hours per week with at least 20 of those hours in core activities.  Even though the participant has these requirements, it is also important to meet them where they are and engage them in WorkFirst activities that count and move them forward to self-sufficiency. 

Most participants must meet the requirements in row 1.  WorkFirst doesn't require the following to participate in core activities (rows 4 through 6 below):

  • One parent in a two-parent family when they meet the conditions in WFHB 1.2.3
  • Exempt participants in the Pregnancy to Employment Infant or Toddler Exemption (See WFHB 5.1.11)
  • Teen head of households (age 18 or 19 years of age) who don’t have a High School Diploma or GED
  • Minor parents who do not have a child under 12 weeks old

Strengthened participation is an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s IRP to assist them in meeting the federal participation rate when participants may have unexcused absences or too many excused absences.

The strengthened participation requirements are shown in the chart below or in the Participation Requirements Resource.

WorkFirst Participants

Washington State WorkFirst Participation Requirements  

Strengthened Participation Requirements  

Core Activity

Core/Non-Core Activity

Total WorkFirst Activity

1.  Each participant unless they meet the criteria in #2-6 in this chart  

20 hrs/wk

12-20 hrs/wk

32-40 hrs/wk

35 hrs/wk (at least 23 hrs core)

2.  Recipient parents in a two-parent household who qualify for the two-parent options (see 1.2.3)

30 hr/wk

5 hrs/wk

35 hrs/wk

38 hrs/wk (at least 33 hrs core)

3.  Single parent/caregiver with a child under 6

20 hrs/wk

None (additional hours are voluntary)

20 hrs/wk

23 hrs/wk (at least 23 hrs core)

4.  Participants claiming the  Infant Exemption, Toddler Exemption, Post-Partum Exemption, or who are pregnant in 3rd trimester

None

None

None (exempt)

None

(Encourage voluntary participation.)

5. Teen head of households (age 18 or 19 years of age) that don’t have a High School Diploma or GED

None

Participate in HS as per school requirements to progress towards graduation

Based on school requirement but can be a minimum of 1 hr/wk

None

(Encourage progress and accountability for participating and providing actual hours verification each month.)

6. Unmarried pregnant or parenting minors  (age 17 and younger); except between infant’s birth and turning 12 weeks old

None

Participate in HS as per school requirements to progress towards graduation

Based on school requirement but can be a minimum of 1 hr/wk

None

(Encourage progress and accountability for participating and providing actual hours verification each month.)

The following activities in most cases meet strengthened participation without adding additional hours (add additional hours when necessary):

  • Community Jobs and Career Jump
  • Work Study students as long as they meet the requirements in WFHB 8.1.10
  • Vocational Education

The following are important to remember when including strengthened participation in a participant’s IRP: 

  • A 38-hour per week full time job search is available when only one parent in a two-parent family is participating under the two-parent option.
  • Don’t exceed the FLSA maximum hours for Community Service or Community Works.  You can substitute non-core hours for core hours as needed to stay within the FLSA maximum.  See WFHB 3.3.2.5 for more information about deeming rules and the FLSA maximum.
  • 20 hours of unsubsidized employment (or 30 hours for a two-parent family) meets the core activity requirement.  For two-parent families or single parents with no children under six in this situation, consider adding non-core activities to meet the strengthened participation requirements.

Examples:

1: Huu is a single parent with no children under six in a full-time vocational education (VE) program.  The college she is attending has a 35 hour per week vocational education program in her field of study.  Her education plan shows 35 hours/week in a VE.  She meets the 35 hours/week strengthened participation requirements for a parent/caregiver. 

2: Mary is a single parent with no children under six pursuing a specialized certificate program taking 15 credits including 15 hours/week homework and 2 hours/week lab time.  Her education plan shows VE 32 hours per week.  This is acceptable even though it doesn't meet the minimum 35 hours/week strengthened participation requirement because adding hours in her case isn't possible.

3: Priya is a single parent with ten-year-old child.  She works 5 hours/week at an unsubsidized job and participates 12 hours/week in a high school equivalency program.  Priya agrees to participate in 18 hours/week of job search to meet the strengthened participation core requirement of 23 hours/week. Her 5 PT, 18 JS, and 12 GE meet the 35 hrs/week strengthened participation requirements. 

a: Update - Priya loses her job and completes her high school equivalency.  Her WFPS increases her to 35 hours/week full-time job search.  She meets the 35 hours/week strengthened participation requirements for a parent/caregiver. 

b: Update - The father of Priya’s child, Mark, returns to the home and they qualify for the two-parent participation options. Priya and Mark decide that Priya will continue participating and Mark will opt out of participation.  Her WFPS increases job search to 38 hours/week.  Priya and Mark meet the 38 hours/week strengthened participation requirements for a two-parent household.

4: Tom is a single parent raising a teen-age son participating in Community Works with a 25 hours/week FLSA maximum.  His WFPS schedules him for 25 hours/week Community Works and 10 hours/week high school equivalency for a total of 35 hours/week participation.  Tom meets the 35 hours/week strengthened participation requirements for a parent/caregiver.

a: Update - Tom's FLSA maximum is 16 hours/week.  Under deeming, this will meet his 20 hours of core activity, but we can't require any additional hours of Community Works.  Tom continues to participate in high school equivalency classes for 10 hours/week. To help Tom reach strengthened participation, Tom agrees to participate 3 hours/week in a Life Skills activity.  His plan is 16 WC, 3 LS, and 10 GE meet the 35 hours/week strengthened participation requirement.  

b: Update - Tom’s FLSA maximum is still 16 hours/week, but there is no Life Skills class or other core activity available that can be added to Community Works to bring his core activity up to 23 hours/week (16 hours/week deems to 20 hours/week). He has been doing 10 hours/week of high school equivalency at the local community college.  College staff agreed to provide an additional 5 hours/week by enrolling Tom in a study hall to meet the 35 hours/week strengthened participation requirements.

1.2.3 What are the participation requirements for two-parent households?

The participation standard for two-parent households is full-time (32-40 hours per week) for each parent.  However, under some circumstances, we can allow a household to choose a two-parent option.

Two-parent options are available to two-parent families who are:

  • In compliance with WorkFirst,
  • Appropriate for the option, and
  • Electing to choose that option after a discussion that includes both parents and the WFPS/WFSSS.  

Use these options when appropriate to assist two-parent families towards family stability and self-sufficiency.

In order to utilize the two-parent options, a conversation must occur with the family to determine whether this option is appropriate for their household and to determine if one parent may opt out of participation.  The conversation must focus on the whole family to determine the best participation option for the family to reach self-sufficiency. 

The two-parent options are only available when both parents are in full compliance with WorkFirst requirements.  Any time one or both of the parents utilizing the two-parent option falls out of compliance, the household will return to the full time participation standard for each individual.

Option One

Recipient two-parent families may choose to have one parent opt out of participation requirements to stay home and care for the children as long as:

  • Both parents are participating satisfactorily, meaning they have completed their comprehensive evaluation and any required assessments.  If one or both parents are in WorkFirst sanction, the sanction(s) must be cured before the household can be offered the 2-parent participation option;
  • The parent opting to stay home is capable of caring for the child(ren);
  • The other parent agrees to  participate 35 hours per week (30 hours core and 5 hours core or non-core); and
  • Both parents engage in any needed chemical dependency or mental health treatment. 

If the WFPS or WFSSS and the TANF family determine that this option is appropriate, use the participating parent’s time spent in treatment to help meet the family’s work participation requirements.  If the participating parent stops participating as required without good cause, pursue sanction and send an appointment letter to the parent who was opting to stay home scheduling them for an appointment to develop an IRP.

NOTE: If there is a child under two years of age and no mandatory participation is required, one parent can opt out of participation instead of using their infant or toddler exemption (IE or TE).  Parents must complete all requirements found in section 5.1 before considering the opt-out option.  This family would still be subject to all of the requirements under option one.

Option Two

Recipient two-parent families may choose to have both parents split participation requirements, as long as:

  • Both parents are participating satisfactorily, meaning they have completed their comprehensive evaluation and any assessments needed.  If one or both parents are in WorkFirst sanction, the sanction(s) must be cured before the household can be offered the 2-parent participation option;
  • They meet the core requirement of 30 hours per week, in addition to at least 5 hours of core or non-core; and
  • Both parents engage in any needed chemical dependency or mental health.
NOTE: If there is a child under two years of age and no mandatory participation is required, neither parent would need to use the infant or toddler exemption.  Parents must complete all requirements found in section 5.1 before considering the split participation option.  The family would still be subject to all of the requirements under option two above.

If one parent ceases to participate without good cause, pursue sanction and send an appointment letter to the other parent to come in for an appointment to build a full time IRP.

Examples:

Ekaterina and Vladimir have two children ages 3 years old and 8 months old.  Ekaterina and Vladimir choose full participation for Vladimir and Ekaterina will stay home with the children.  Vladimir agrees to JS 35 hours per week.  This family meets participation requirements for a two-parent household. Even though they have a child that meets the IE criteria, Ekaterina shouldn’t use IE months because Vladimir is fulfilling the two-parent participation requirement.  

Pam and Kai have a one year old child.  Pam and Kai choose full participation for Kai, and Pam will stay home with the child.  Kai agrees to CJ 20 hours per week and JT 15 hours per week.  This doesn’t meet the participation requirements for a two-parent household, as Kai doesn’t have 30 hours of core activity participation.  Pam agrees to participate in Community Works (WC) 10 hours per week.  They now meet the participation requirements for a two-parent household.    

1.2.4 What is the participation requirement for single parents/caregivers with a child under 6?

For single participants with a child under the age of six, the participation requirement is 20 hours per week in a core activity.  Participants must participate satisfactorily and cure a sanction to avoid Non-Compliance Sanction termination. 

Single participants may voluntarily participate for more than 20 hours per week.  Single participants who wish to attend Vocational Education activities must participate full time. 

1.2.5 How do we determine the best engagement pathway?

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 WorkFirst. A comprehensive evaluation using the Pathway Development Tool (PDT) is key in leading participants to employment, through activities like job search, education, Community Jobs or Career Jump.

The WFPS/WFSSS refers the participant to the appropriate engagement pathway identified by the comprehensive evaluation or assessment using the appropriate code(s).  The pathways include:

  • Career Scope (Job Search)
  • Education & Training Activity
  • Community Jobs
  • Community Works Program
  • Unsubsidized Employment
  • Limited English Proficient (LEP) Pathway
  • Issue Resolution
  • Exempt
  • 3rd trimester of pregnancy deferral

See WFHB 3.2 for engagement pathway details.

If there is an indication or the participant discloses involvement with Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and/or the Department of Corrections (DOC) at any time, we must work collaboratively to address the needs of the family. 

Participants involved with DCYF and/or DOC may be required to do activities like counseling or treatment to help keep their families together.  It's critical to consider and include these activities, as appropriate, when developing the participant’s IRP.  We want to make sure that WorkFirst requirements don't interfere with the activities needed to comply with DCYF and/or DOC requirements and resolve their family issues and emergencies.

Participation Example #1: 
After a newly approved WorkFirst participant completes the comprehensive evaluation (using the PDT), they agree to start with full-time employment services (35 hours/week) as their first activity. Employment Security staff define and direct full-time and part-time employment service activities and attendance. See 4.1 Career Scope Phases and Processes section for more information on job search.
Participation Example #2:
The WorkFirst participant is working 25 hours/week at a local restaurant and is also in an approved educational component for 10 hours/week.  Record the actual number of hours for each activity in the IRP and input the number of hours for each component on the component screen in eJAS, for a total of 35 hrs/week participation.
Participation Example #3:
The WorkFirst participant is able to participate full time and is involved in the Department of Corrections (DOC) Community Parenting Alternative (CPA) programmer the Family & Offender Sentencing Alternative (FOSA) program.  The participant is subject to electronic home monitoring and only allowed to leave the home to participate in required DOC activities, which include substance abuse treatment, parenting classes, and other activities agreed upon by the DOC Community Corrections Officer (CCO) and the WFPS/WFSSS. These could include, but are not limited to community jobs, education, and job search. The WFPS/WFSSS verifies these activities with the DOC Community Corrections Officer, records the actual number of hours for each activity in the IRP, and inputs the number of hours for each component on the component screen in eJAS.

1.2.6 When can someone participate in the various WorkFirst activities?

Unless the outcome of the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates otherwise, employment services are the first activity for most.  The PDT is the key tool in leading participants to employment through job search, education, or other engagement pathway activities like Community Jobs, Career Jump or Community Works approved by WorkFirst staff.

For participants who aren't successful in job related activities, it is important to determine what factors may be contributing to the lack of success.  The participant may have an undisclosed disability, barrier, or challenge and you can't provide assistance without knowing what obstacles they are facing.  Inform the participant that you want to see them succeed and that support services are available for people needing special consideration.  Ask whether circumstances have changed and/or has the participant disclosed all information that may be affecting their success.

1.2.7 What does participation look like for families in crisis situations?

The WFPS considers and takes action for those participants in crisis/issue resolution situations that count as full-time participation.  The WFPS can develop an IRP with the participant that specifically addresses the crisis issues.  When necessary, consult with expert personnel for assistance, including Social Service Specialists (SSS), tribal representatives, family violence specialists, and other WFPS or supervisors.  This should be done when assistance and expertise is needed to develop specific steps the person should take to mitigate her/his circumstances.

Living or working in an area impacted by a declared disaster may affect a parent/caregivers’ ability to participate in WorkFirst activities.  Please see the Disaster Impact (DI) step by step for more information.

Both state and federal rules recognize that not all parents/caregivers are able to participate all the time. It is important that we stabilize families, resolve issues and provide participants with exemptions when that is the best plan for the family.

Deferrals and exemptions won’t necessarily make it harder to meet the federal rate.  As shown on the WorkFirst Stacking Strategy chart, some exempt participants qualify for federal exemptions, and participants in countable "X" codes may be able to add enough hours to meet federal participation requirements.

The WFPS directs a participant to the WFSSS via the Issue Resolution pathway for assessment and services when s/he has an urgent issue.  The WFSSS addresses the immediate need, determines appropriate participation activities, and outlines these activities in the IRP.

Be sure that the participant understands how and when to report progress or lack of progress in completing the steps outlined in the IRP.  The participant meets required participation with completion of the activities outlined in the IRP until the SSS determines the issue is resolved or adds other activities to the IRP.

1.2.8 What are contracted services?

Refer participants to contractors to receive specific services and may include community or faith-based organizations, for profit providers, and others.  Contractors provide services that aren’t otherwise available through the partner agencies.  They address barriers or issues to support individuals in finding and keeping employment.  Notify contractors of any necessary accommodations.

WorkFirst has established strong certification standards for contractors and service providers.  Contractors and service provides must meet the standards to obtain WorkFirst certification, which occurs during the contracting process.  Contractors must meet the standards for reporting to the WFPS or WFSSS by providing monthly verification reports.  Contractors must report non-participation immediately.

1.2.9 What if someone isn't exempt but can't participate in regular employment service activities?

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

Some participants may need specialized services to participate and progress to self-sufficiency. For example, a person with a physical impairment that doesn’t exempt them from participation, might best participate with DVR who can provide specific vocational services. Coordinate with the DVR counselor or other professionals when the participant is on a waiting list for services such as alcohol treatment or mental health counseling. In some cases, all a participant may do is complete necessary applications and prepare for another program, such as DVR or SSI. Through consultation with WFSSS and other professionals, determine the appropriate activities and level of participation while the participant is waiting for services such as chemical dependency treatment, parenting classes, counseling, adult education, and/or money management education. Participants who need DVR services may be able to work part-time in an entry-level job while waiting for the services that help them obtain career employment.

Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF)

Some participants working with DCYF may not be able to participate in employment service activities while being required to attend court appointments, counseling or treatment. If at any time, there is an indication or the participant discloses involvement with DCYF at any time, it is critical to consider these activities when developing the participant's IRP.

Department of Corrections (DOC)

Some participants working with DOC in a sentencing alternative program may not initially be able to participate in employment service activities. An incarcerated individual who is accepted into the “Family & Offender Sentencing Alternative (FOSA)” program is still under community custody supervision and those in the DOC “Community Parenting Alternative (CPA)” program and subject to electronic home monitoring. Incarcerated individuals in either program report to a specialized DOC Community Corrections Officer (CCO) and can only leave the home to participate in required activities such as mental health or chemical dependency treatment, parenting classes, work, vocational education, life skills, or other similar productive activities that DOC allows. However, as the incarcerated individual progresses through the phases of the program, additional activities may be included with approval from the CCO, such as community jobs, community service, or job search.

It is critical to collaborate and coordinate with DOC and consider these activities when developing the participants’ IRP. Please contact Jennie Fitzpatrick at fitzpjr@dshs.wa.gov if you have any questions.

1.2.10 What are the WorkFirst requirements for dependent teens and pregnant or parenting minors?

Dependent teens that are on an adult's WorkFirst cash assistance grant aren’t required to do an IRP or verify school attendance. The following chart summarizes WorkFirst requirements for dependent teens/pregnant or parenting minors and teen head of households:

Age Dependent Teen Teen Head of Household
Federal Reporting Not included in the work participation rate. Included in the work participation rate.
17 and younger Parent’s responsibility to ensure the child is in school. No IRP required.

Participate in High School Completion or Equivalency courses as per school requirements to progress towards graduation is required unless parenting a child under the age of 12 weeks.

  • Comprehensive evaluation required
  • IRP required
  • Must verify actual hours of high school attendance monthly
18-19

Parent's responsibility to ensure the child is in school. No IRP required.

Note: This category may include 20-year-old dependents receiving SFA.

Participate in High School Completion or Equivalency courses as per school requirements to progress towards graduation is required unless parenting a child under the age of 12 weeks.

  • Comprehensive evaluation required
  • IRP required
  • Must verify actual hours of high school attendance monthly
Note: These participants may be eligible for the Infant or Toddler Exemption.
Upon Graduation N/A Same as adult parent/needy care relatives:
  • Comprehensive evaluation required
  • IRP required
  • Participate in required core and non-core activities as described in the participation requirements table in 1.2.2

There are no WorkFirst requirements for dependent teens that are in an adult's WorkFirst cash assistance grant. It is the participant's responsibility to ensure the child is in school. However, a DCYF referral may be appropriate if a dependent teen isn’t in school.

Some pregnant or parenting minors must go to school and be in an approved living arrangement as a condition of TANF/SFA eligibility. See these sections of the EAZ Manual for more information:

1.2.11 Home Schooling

Unmarried pregnant or parenting minors and teen head of household families that are home schooled can meet the WorkFirst participation requirement for schooling upon approval by the household's local school district and meets the state law requirements. See RCW 28A.200 for more information.

When non-assistance unit caregiver reports they are providing, or intend to provide home-based instruction, they must submit a signed statement to the school district declaring their intent to home school. This is a yearly requirement. Once the participant files the document and provides a copy to the WFPS, then the home schooling can be added to the IRP.

Home schooling is WorkFirst participation for the minor parent or teen head of household only. A parent/caregiver providing the home schooling can’t satisfy WorkFirst participation requirements by providing the instruction.

1.2.12 eJAS/ACES codes

  • RO (referred to social service specialist)
  • HS (High School completion or High School equivalency for participants 19 years of age or younger)
  • BE (High School completion, including High School 21, for participants 20 years of age or older)
  • GE (High School equivalency for participants 20 years of age and older)

1.2.13 Participation - Step-by-Step Guide

Refer to the IRP section for a step-by-step guide to regular participation.  For all others, the WFPS or WFSSS looks at the age of all assistance unit members to determine participation.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

1.3 Up-front Screening and Referrals

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The Up-front Screening and Referrals section includes:

  • 1.3.1 What up-front referrals are required?
  • 1.3.2 What does Equal Access mean?
  • 1.3.3 What is family planning?
  • 1.3.4 How to screen for family planning?
  • 1.3.5 What are the responsibilities of DSHS staff?
  • 1.3.6 Examples of various types of family planning screenings  
  • 1.3.7 Family Planning step-by step guide

1.3.1 What up-front referrals are required?

Some issues may need to be considered when developing an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP). Up-front referrals, screenings, and evaluations include, but are not limited to, the:

  • Comprehensive evaluation
  • Family Planning screening
  • Family Violence screening
  • Equal Access
  • Social service assessment
  • Pregnancy to Employment (PTE) assessment
  • Learning Needs screening

The remainder of this section describes Equal Access (formerly known as NSA) and family planning. Other assessments and evaluations are described in the Comprehensive EvaluationResolving Issues and Pregnancy to Employment sections. You can find links to these other sections, and more information listed in the resource section below.

1.3.2 What do Equal Access (EA) services mean?

CSO staff screen all heads of household to determine if the individual requires a reasonable accommodation resulting from a disability, learning or literacy issue to access and maintain DSHS services.

EA screening is completed during the:

  • Application process,
  • Comprehensive evaluation, and
  • While actively participating in the WorkFirst program.

When identified or requested, reasonable and necessary accommodations are given to ensure these individuals can access and maintain WorkFirst services and benefits.

EA plans support the IRP, and allow the individual to access and maintain services for which the individual is eligible.

Staff may refer the individual to a WFSSS when the WFSSSs expertise in completing the EA screening or plan is required.

Equal Access for Non-Heads-of- Household:

All other household members required to participate in WorkFirst activities, are screened upon initial contact. Reasonable and necessary accommodations are provided prior to the required participation.

1.3.3 What is Family Planning?

Family planning services are educational, health care and social services that help participants make decisions regarding additional pregnancies while on TANF/SFA. Advantages for offering these services include, but aren't limited to:

  • Learning what their Washington Apple Health care cover can provide.
  • Learning about the variety of birth control methods to help plan if, or when, to have another child, and
  • Learning how to talk about birth control with family members.

1.3.4 How to screen for Family Planning?

Family Planning screening is only required for adults and emancipated minors. In situations involving screening of 16 or 17 year old dependent teens, DSHS staff does not want to pull them out of school to screen them. Staff may want to help their parents talk about family planning with them or offer to meet with this group of minors for the parent. 
Screen and offer all individuals family planning information at least once a year. The family planning information should be given at the following times:

  • Comprehensive evaluation;
  • Eligibility review; and/or
  • Each time the WFPS or WFSSS determines the individual (or their children, if appropriate) may benefit from these services.

1.3.5 What are the responsibilities of DSHS staff?

DSHS is responsible to provide adults and emancipated minors with family planning information. The purpose of providing information is to make participants aware of family planning services available to them so they are able to make informed decisions about future pregnancies. It is mandatory to provide adults and emancipated minors with the following information:

Providing information about available family planning services to each participant can help us meet the goal of zero-unintended pregnancies while on WorkFirst cash assistance/SFA. Every participant should:

  • Know of available family planning services through Washington Apple Health.

1.3.6 Examples of various types of family planning screenings

Young Adult:

Melanie has just been approved for TANF and engaged in WorkFirst. Ursula, her WFPS/WFSSS, asks if she has received the information on Family Planning. Melanie is 24 years old with a 14 month-old son. Ursula asks her what her ideal family size would be. She has always wanted three children but has not been able to get above a minimum wage job. Ursula encourages Melanie to consider the expense of having another child, and reminds her that an unplanned pregnancy can make it difficult to get to a higher paying job where she could afford more children and provide for all their needs. WorkFirst will work on increasing her ability to earn more money and family planning providers have information and supplies that can help her plan when she wants more children. Ursula encourages her to go to the family planning website to find out more about family planning options.

Male:

Todd is a 27 year-old single father of two young children. At the eligibility interview, the WFPS gives the WorkFirst Opportunities brochure DSHS 22-1125 to Todd, asking him if he has thought about how an additional child would affect his dreams for the future. The WFPS explains how some pregnancies are unplanned and that there are family planning services that can assist him so this would not happen to him. The WFPS also explains how he can get various birth control methods using his Washington Apple Health in case he should want to obtain any other method sometime in the future.

Middle-age, non-childbearing female:

Barbara is a 41 year-old mother of two children, 17 year old Kristi and 15 year old Josh. She has come in for cash assistance. Through the course of your intake interview, Barbara revealed that she just ended a short relationship and made the comment that over the last year, she has "gone through three losers" and that she can hopefully snag someone worth keeping soon. Upon her up-front family planning screening, Barbara states she had a hysterectomy about four years ago.

There are several issues to consider in this example. Even though birth control is not the first issue for Barbara, she is in multiple relationships that put her at an increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In this situation, the DSHS staff can provide information regarding local family planning services or she can see her primary care physician for STD counseling, education and care. A second issue is that her daughter, Kristi, and, her son, Josh, are at an age where they may become sexually active. Discuss the benefits of giving information to them and acknowledge that talking with your children may be difficult, but family planning resources are available. By assuming that just because Barbara cannot have children she doesn't need family planning information and resources, we are also making decisions for her that she and her family can't benefit from family planning services.

1.3.7 Family Planning - Step-by-Step Guide

When a WorkFirst participant is screened for family planning, the WorkFirst staff may:

  1. Enter the eJAS Family Planning Screening through: 
    1. The Pathway Development Tool, Family topic section, or
    2. The Screening/Evaluation section
  2. Give the participant, at a minimum:
  3. Review the screening with the participant and document what was given to the participant.
  4. Save the screening once complete. 
Note: Staff must screen and offer family planning information at least once per year and document this in eJAS under the Family Planning note type. (For this purpose, a year is defined as 350 days.)

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

1.4 WorkFirst Orientation

Created on: 
Jun 02 2015

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The WorkFirst Orientation section includes:

  • 1.4.1 What is WorkFirst Orientation and who needs one?
  • 1.4.2 How is the WorkFirst Orientation delivered?
  • 1.4.3 What happens during the WorkFirst Orientation?
  • 1.4.4 What is covered during the WorkFirst Orientation?
  • 1.4.5 eJAS/ACES codes
  • 1.4.6 WorkFirst Orientation - Step-by-Step Guide

1.4.1 What is the WorkFirst Orientation and who needs one?

The WorkFirst Orientation is an upfront introduction provided to potential WorkFirst participants about what the WorkFirst program has to offer. WorkFirst orientation provides an overview of the programs, services, and opportunities available for the participants and their families while receiving a TANF grant. All individuals, including adults being added to an active TANF case or transferring from other cash programs, who will be mandatory WorkFirst participants as described in WAC 388-310-0200, must complete a WorkFirst Orientation prior to TANF or SFA cash assistance approval. An orientation is not required for clients who received TANF or SFA within the past 30 days.

1.4.2 How is the WorkFirst Orientation delivered?

The WorkFirst Orientation is delivered one-on-one, either by phone or desk-side, by WorkFirst staff. The participant is provided the WorkFirst Folder, DSHS 22-395, followed by immediate viewing of the WorkFirst Orientation Video. A Desk-Side WorkFirst Orientation Script is available to support phone WorkFirst Orientations and interpretation of the video content for participants who are limited English proficient (LEP).

1.4.3 What happens during the WorkFirst Orientation?

The WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist conducts the orientation before TANF or SFA cash assistance approval to provide a broad overview of the WorkFirst Program.

When presenting WorkFirst opportunities:

  • Establish a positive rapport with the individual to make a human connection.
  • Use the WorkFirst Orientation Video to deliver the required information, if done desk-side. If completing the WorkFirst Orientation over the phone, use the Desk-Side WorkFirst Orientation Script to deliver content.
  • Utilize the available staff training for the Desk-Side WorkFirst Orientation to support the process and ongoing conversations with the customer regarding the WorkFirst program.
  • Give local resource information, in writing, for future reference.
  • Discuss WorkFirst expectations in a positive manner.
  • Get participants into activities as soon as possible for as many hours as possible.
  • Let participants know they can call a case manager if they have questions or concerns about participating.

1.4.4 What is covered during the WorkFirst Orientation?

The WorkFirst Orientation Video provides a basic overview of the TANF and WorkFirst program, including:

  • TANF 60-month time limit information
  • Program participation activity options
  • Sanctions and related grant reductions
  • Availability of support services including child care

It also emphasizes the importance of communication with DSHS so the Community Services Division team may continue to provide supports and services where necessary.

Considering the streamlined focus of the WorkFirst Orientation Video, there are a number of topics that WorkFirst staff need to ensure are covered more in-depth with the participant either during the eligibility determination process, the Comprehensive Evaluation, or during Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) development.

These topics include:

  • Division of Child Support (DCS) Good Cause Options
  • Family Violence
  • IRP Participation Requirements
  • Parenting Support Programs
  • Sanction Process and Expectations for Communication
  • Support Services, particularly what is available in the customer's area

The Desk-Side WorkFirst Orientation staff training is available to assist in weaving these pieces of information into already occurring conversations with the participant.

1.4.5 e-JAS/ACES codes

There are no WorkFirst engagement e-JAS or ACES codes.

1.4.6 WorkFirst Orientation - Step-by-Step Guide

The WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist:

1.    Makes a positive connection with the participant.

2.    Plays the WorkFirst Orientation Video for the participant.

  • For LEP participants: Accommodate by using the Desk-Side WorkFirst Orientation Script and interpretation services.
  • For telephone WorkFirst Orientations: Use the Desk-Side WorkFirst Orientation Script to deliver the content verbally over the phone in place of playing the WorkFirst Orientation Video.

3.    Asks if the participant has any questions about the WorkFirst Orientation.

4.    Provides a WorkFirst Folder, DSHS 22-395, to each participant which includes, at a minimum, the following documents:

       Other resources can be included in the folder, including but not limited to, the following documents:

       NOTE: For WorkFirst Orientations conducted over the telephone, mail the participant the WorkFirst Folder, DSHS 22-395.

5.    Documents completion of the WorkFirst Orientation and completes the TANF cash assistance approval process.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

1.5 Application Screening

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The Application Screening section includes:

  • 1.5.1 What is WorkFirst application screening?
  • 1.5.2 Is the family eligible for other sources of income or benefits?
  • 1.5.3 Can the parent apply for or access unemployment compensation?
  • 1.5.4 Is Diversion Cash Assistance an option?
  • 1.5.5 Is child support a potential source of income?

1.5.1 What is WorkFirst Application Screening?

WorkFirst application screening occurs when a family applies for cash assistance. It is an opportunity to provide information to the applicant and review their family’s situation so that they can decide whether WorkFirst is the best choice or if their financial needs can be met by other means. This is called "positive prevention." The goal is to:

  • Determine if the family has other income.
  • Identify possible sources of income or other types of benefits for the family.
  • Assist families in making a decision that will best serve their needs.
  • Reduce or eliminate the ongoing need for TANF/SFA.

All WorkFirst staff must offer positive prevention services which include discussion of:

  • Basic Food Assistance
  • Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET)
  • Child Care
  • Child Support
  • Community Resources
  • Diversion Cash Assistance
  • Health Benefit Exchange referral
  • Other Income (Social Security, Veterans Benefits, Labor and Industry, etc.)
  • Unemployment Compensation

1.5.2 Is the family eligible for other income or benefits?

WorkFirst staff must review available resources to help families avoid ongoing cash assistance if other services will meet their needs. This includes:

  • Determining if the person:
    • Participated in WorkFirst in the past and whether they still qualify for support services.
    • Is receiving or could receive child support.
    • Is receiving or could receive unemployment compensation.
  • Offering Medical and Basic Food assistance as a way of decreasing the need for WorkFirst.
  • Completing an Equal Access (EA) Screening.
Note: If an EA screening was previously conducted, then review and update the accommodation plan (See EA-Z Manual: Necessary Supplementary Accommodation for more details).

1.5.3 Can the participant apply for or access unemployment compensation?

During the WorkFirst application process, WorkFirst staff:

  • Review GUIDE to see if there is already a valid unemployment compensation claim.
Note: GUIDE identifies available income and resources and helps meet and maintain Basic Food accuracy.
  • Require people who report working at least three of the past 18 months in the USA (and who have no unemployment compensation claim) to file an unemployment compensation claim and provide their determination back to CSD.

A person can apply for and access unemployment compensation benefits in a number of ways (see ESD.wa.gov for more information). Community Services Offices (CSOs) must provide resources for people to apply for these benefits (e,g. have phones designated for this purpose in office).

For people who worked in other states, the ESD Unemployment Compensation worker can help the applicant in filing a claim with that other state. They can also help applicants find missing ("lost") wages, and explain other options to maximize benefits.

For applicants who quit their last job, were fired, or have other issues that need to be reviewed, unemployment compensation determination will take longer. In these cases, WorkFirst cash assistance determination should proceed, as they have met the requirement to provide proof of claim filing. WorkFirst staff must inform the applicant of reporting requirements if the unemployment claim is later approved by ESD.

WorkFirst applicants approved for unemployment compensation and found ineligible for WorkFirst due to that income, or who choose not to receive WorkFirst because they can support themselves with the unemployment compensation and other available resources, will be connected by ESD staff to job search and job matching services available in the WorkSource Centers.

1.5.4 Is Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA) an option?

The best outcome for parents is to eliminate the need for WorkFirst cash assistance when possible. DCA is designed for this purpose. One of the first items to discuss with the person is whether DCA is an option ( See EA-Z Manual - DCA ).

If DCA isn't appropriate and other benefits alone won't allow the family to support themselves without WorkFirst cash assistance, continue with the application process for monthly WorkFirst benefits.

The goal is to help the person and their family through their time of need as quickly as possible. If a family's situation can't be resolved without the aid of the WorkFirst program, then try to ensure that the time spent receiving monthly WorkFirst case assistance will be as brief as possible. This will help applicants save their limited TANF months.

1.5.5 Is child support a potential source of income?

When families receive other income (such as child support), they will have a better chance of exiting WorkFirst sooner.

During the screening process:

  1. Determine if Child Support is a potential source of income by discussing this with the person and reviewing information from the Division of Child Support (DCS) using the SEMS Quick Cash screen.
  2. Discuss the TANF requirement of assigning child support rights to the state. In some situations, the difference between available child support and the amount of a TANF grant is enough for a family to choose current child support instead.
  3. Inform families of their right to request good cause to not cooperate with child support collection and explain how the process works. It is important to ensure that families do not withdraw their request for TANF because they are afraid of an absent parent.

For individuals who are deferred from receiving TANF, a referral to DCS can be made and/or the family should be given information about DCS services and how to contact the appropriate office.

For families who need to continue with the TANF/WorkFirst application process: Refer to the EA-Z Manual for further details on child support, good cause for non-cooperation and the DCS referral process.

1.6 Required Documentation

Created on: 
Nov 30 2020

1.6 Required Documentation

Revised September 20, 2021

The Required Documentation section includes:

  • 1.6.1 Who is required to document?
  • 1.6.2 Why documentation matters?
  • 1.6.3 When and where to document?
  • 1.6.4 What does "special records"mean? 
  • 1.6.5 What are the documentation standards?
  • 1.6.6 How to stay objective?
  • 1.6.7 What are the best documentation practices?

1.6.1 Who is required to document?

All WorkFirst Program Specialists (WFPS) and WorkFirst Social Service Specialists (WFSSS) are required to document every interaction with a WorkFirst participant. This chapter explains in detail the importance of documentation for case management duties and the crucial role documentation plays in supporting a participant to engage in WorkFirst activities.

1.6.2 Why documentation matters?

Effective documentation provides a clear and concise description and result of an interaction between the WFPS/WFSSS and the participant. It helps fellow WFPS/WFSSS who must rely on documentation to make decisions or obtain information about a participant's experience. Participants are often under stress and telling their story more than once can be traumatic, and effective documentation allows the participant to identify their needs without having to repeat themselves. Thorough documentation serves as one of the most crucial functions of case management by:

  • Providing enough information to allow for partnership and an opportunity to build an effective case management relationship;
  • Capturing a timeline of the participant's past, present, and future circumstances;
  • Providing context, including barriers and needs without having to ask the participant to repeat their story, including painful parts;
  • Allowing the participant to trust and engage in self-directed participation;
  • Creating a clear picture for other WFPS/WFSSS to review and build from when interacting with the participant;
  • Allowing WorkFirst staff to understand the participant's past, current, and future goals: and
  • Identifying strengths; and building on participant's successes
Note: Documentation should add value to the case, be objective and clear. Documentation should never contain judgement based on statements or opinions.

1.6.3 When and where to document?

Whenever there is an interaction with the participant or on behalf of a participant, the WFPS/WFSSS must document the issues, needs, and actions taken in a timely matter . When working with a two-parent household, document participation discussions with both parties as necessary to develop their Individual Responsibility Plans (IRPs). Be descriptive and document interactions with the participant or other parties involved in their WorkFirst participation, deferral, or exemption. Also, document any time action is taken on their case. Some examples include:

  • During/after the comprehensive evaluation and assessment
  • Case staffings
  • Referrals
  • Support service requests
  • Receipt of email from the participant or a provider
  • Interactions with an AREP, caregiver, or Power of Attorney
  • Interactions with a provider, contractor, or partner
  • Contact with landlords or vendors
  • Scheduling or mailing correspondence

The type of interaction with the participant determines where to document:

  • eJAS Client Notes for most contacts
    • Select the Case Notes type that best captures the contact
  • Comprehensive Evaluation
  • Social Services Assessments
    • See WFHB 6.2 and 3.2.3 for more information
  • Individual Responsibility Plans (IRP)
    • See WFHB 3.3.1 for expectations in IRP
  • Case Staffing/Extension Review
  • Sanction Review
  • Sanction Re-Engagement Summary Page
  • Time Limit Extension tool
  • Referral
  • Confidential Note Types or "Special Records" See WFHB section 1.6.4
Note: Do no harm means; not putting people's safety in jeopardy, always use a confidential note type when documenting the following notes; domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse, and protected health information such as HIV.

1.6.4 What does "special records" mean?

A participant's information is confidential under state and federal law. In eJAS, there are certain categories of client information, called "Special Records" with increased protection. There categories contain information about: 

  • Mental Health
  • Family Violence
  • Chemical Dependency
  • HIV/AIDS/STD
  • Confidential Payments

Entering information on these topics in "Special Records" categories in eJAS Client Notes is crucial to protect the participant's privacy and to adhere to state and federal confidentiality laws for substance abuse, mental health needs and domestic violence. When adding personal/private information into data systems, staff must follow a "do no harm" approach. See WorkFirst Handbook section 3.7.2.4 for instructions on how to have confidential notes/special records removed from a non-protected note type(s). 

If these topics come up in discussion with a participant, WorkFirst staff should only use the corresponding note type in eJAS Client Notes when documenting the discussion and participant's circumstances relating to the topic. The Pathway Development Tool in its entirely is protected as Special Records - only CSD WorkFirst staff can view it. 

NOTE: WorkFirst staff use the HIV/AIDS/STD note type only when a participant voluntarily provides information about HIV/AIDS/STD issues that could interfere with WorkFirst activities. It can also be documented in the PDT Medical/Health topic. 

1.6.5 What are the documentation standards?

Every interaction must be documented; however, not all documentation requires the same amount of detail and depth. Documentation needs vary based on the type of interaction you have with a participant and builds on the ongoing story and goals of the participant. Types of interactions that should include documentation are as follows:

  • Comprehensive Evaluation/Assessments:
    • Household composition
    • Circumstances that led to TANF application
    • Areas of stability and strength for the family
    • Areas of instability or obstacles identified by the family
    • Identified goals for the family
  • Case Staffing:
    • Who participated and their role with the family
    • Reasons for the staffing (examples: transition from activity to another, good cause determination, celebrate participant's success)
    • Outcome of the staffing and next steps
    • Ongoing plan (IRP, deferral, referrals)
  • IRP Development:
    • Reflect the participant's agreement to a chosen activity and the IRP
    • Activities and hours of participation
    • How transportation and child care are addressed
    • How the IRP is working towards customer goals
    • For two-parent households: document under note type Participation in both cases (e.g. "Participation was discussed and agreed upon with both parties").
  • Support Service Request(s): See WFHB Section 2.2
    • Type of support(s) being requested
    • Discussion about any resources that may currently be available
    • Any lower cost alternatives that might be available
    • How do they plan to take over the ongoing costs in the future
    • Outcome of request:
      • If approved, explanation for the amount provided
      • If denied, explanation for why
  • Other Ongoing Interactions: Describe elements of the situation and document the plan by using:
    • Description: What's the reason for the contact
      • Who was contacted
      • How did the contact occur (in person, phone call including contact number, document in ECR)
      • Why is the contact being made
    • Intervention: What was decided during the contact
      • What is the need the participant disclosed
      • Information or suggestions provided
    • Plan/Outcome: What are the participant's next steps
      • When is the next step due
      • Any referrals needed or made

1.6.6 How to stay objective?

Think of the four C's:

  • Be CLEAR:
    • Everyone needs to know what steps have occurred and what may be next on the case for seamless contact if/when the next worker opens the case record
    • Stay away from abbreviations and acronyms
  • Be CONCISE:
    • Personal judgments or opinions don't have a place in documentation
    • Use non-judgmental observations to support interactions and interventions; this includes staying away from "I statements" and other first person notes
  • Be CORRECT:
    • Stay away from blaming the participant, co-workers, or partners in all notes
    • State facts, do not generalize or stereotype
    • Notes from Skype conversations and emails with peers and partners generally need to be summarized and paraphrased for clarity and appropriateness. Be very cautious about cutting and pasting conversations into the notes
    • Use preferred name, gender pronouns in all records and interactions
  • Be CUSTOMER APPROVED:
    • Be willing to read or share what was documented with the participant and co-workers
    • Remember, documentation is written word which reflects everyone is treated with dignity and respect, providing equitable services

1.6.7 What are the best practices in documentation?

  • Description of the current situation, such as, the reason for the interaction, the needs the participant had, and how it was resolved.
  • The expectation for someone unfamiliar to the case to be able to determine the status/issues/next steps for the participant at the next interaction.

Documentation must prove delivery of service with information as follows:

Accurate Objective
Concise Specific
Consistent Substantive
Descriptive Timely

 

Accurate and consistent documentation:

  • Supports program integrity and equitable service delivery
  • Supports case managers in planning, implementing, and delivering services
  • Provides accurate history of all participant requests for support services to explain denials and approvals
  • Provides relevant history regarding employment readiness, barriers, mental health concerns, substance abuse issues, learning needs, and physical disabilities, etc.
  • Highlights the participant's strengths, supports, and what has worked well for them in overcoming obstacles
  • Provides accountability in serving the participant with each interaction

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

 

Chapter 2: Supports

2.1 Overview

Revised 6/30/2016

The Supports-Overview section includes:

  • 2.1.1 What do we mean by "supports"?
  • 2.1.2 What supports are available?
  • 2.1.3 When do we offer supports?
  • 2.1.4 What are the overall principles for supports?

2.1.1 What do we mean by "supports"?

A person receiving WorkFirst/SFA gets cash assistance to help meet the basic needs of the family. WorkFirst offers a variety of supports to help families become and remain employed.

As wages increase, these supports gradually drop away, until the family can sustain themselves without any further help. This brings independence and a better life.

2.1.2 What supports are available?

It is very important that we explain to everyone that the supports listed below do not carry time limits and do not affect the family's WorkFirst cash assistance time limit. We also want to make sure people understand what supports are available, so they can start planning for their future independence.

WorkFirst support services and the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) program are described in the following sections of the chapter. Other supports available to low-income families include:

  •  Washington Apple Health: Families may have Washington Apple Health coverage while they are on WorkFirst cash assistance and for up to one year after leaving assistance (TANF closed for excess earned income). After that, children may qualify for  Washington Apple Health until the family reaches 200% of the federal poverty level.
  • Food assistance: The department provides food assistance based on family size, income, and expenses. Also, the department provides Transitional Food Assistance (TFA). TFA is a program to provide stable food benefits for up to five months to families leaving the WorkFirst cash assistance or Tribal TANF programs while receiving Basic Food except if the family was in Sanction when the case closed. TFA is meant to help meet a family's nutritional needs for five months as they transition into self-sufficiency.
  • Child support: The Division of Child Support uses innovative techniques to collect child support for low-income families. While on WorkFirst, child support collected goes to the state to repay the costs of the parent's WorkFirst. Once a person leaves WorkFirst, however, they start to receive any current child support collected.
  • Additional requirements (AREN): Supplemental WorkFirst cash assistance can be authorized by DSHS case managers for emergent needs such as homelessness. This grant can pay a family's rent (to prevent eviction) or utilities. It can also cover items such as first and last month's rent.
  • Post Employment services.  Specific types of services and information may vary from office to office but should include:
    • Opportunities for accessing training - skills upgrade.
    • Mentoring, coaching, and employment counseling.
    • Resource information for accessing:
      • Money Management classes
      • Work Skill Assessment
      • Labor Market Information
      • Community Resources - Food Banks, Utilities Assistance, Community Action Programs
    • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The state has established a toll-free hotline to make it easier for workers to file for the EITC. The EITC provides up to $4,400 a year for low-income workers. For some families, taking advantage of the EITC means a 40 percent increase in take-home pay. The EITC hotline number is 1-800-755-5317. Calls are answered 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Information is available in both English and Spanish. Hearing impaired persons can call 1-800-833-6388 for TDD/TYY.
  • Community Resources: Many communities provide supports to low income families, like food or clothing banks. There are also federally funded benefits available, like food supplements from the Woman and Infant Care (WIC) program.

2.1.3 When do we offer supports?

There are some critical stages parents go through as they move from welfare to self-sufficiency. As shown on the chart below, the types of necessary supports may change as they make this transition, and should be reviewed regularly.

Stage Likely necessary supports
Before Cash Assistance approval Look at what support services and child care the family may need to attend the WorkFirst Orientation
WorkFirst Cash Assistance approval

The family will have a cash grant, and likely food assistance and Washington Apple Health. Child support will be pursued.

Look at what support services and child care the family needs to look for work, prepare for work.

Gets a Job Support service needs will likely change. Review with the participant:
  • EITC
  • How much child support is being paid
  • Employer-provided medical coverage
  • Post-Employment Services options
Exits WorkFirst Cash Assistance Family can continue to get food assistance, with no impact on their WorkFirst cash assistance time limit. Review with the parent how they might qualify for:
  • EITC
  • How much child support they will receive
  • How to access or apply for Washington Apple Health or other health care coverage
  • BHP and children's medical coverage
  • WCCC
  • Job retention/wage progression services
  • Diversion or AREN for emergencies
  • Transitional Food Assistance
First year off WorkFirst Cash Assistance We continue to help families, using the supports listed above, during their first year off WorkFirst cash assistance (like help with financial emergencies

2.1.4 What are the overall principles for supports?

There are some common themes you will see whenever we talk about supports for WorkFirst parents.

Support is available to help parents become and stay employed, for example health care coverage and child care that parents can access and afford. These supports can help lift low-income working families out of poverty and reduce their chance of going back on welfare.

Parents have the primary responsibility for supporting their children. Parents and the state share responsibility for helping families leave welfare. Parents are responsible for moving quickly into jobs. The state is responsible for helping parents find and keep a job, and for collecting child support.

WorkFirst gets involved with people's lives in ways that the old welfare system never could. Whether it is getting quality child care, child support, stable housing, reliable transportation, new clothes, a new hairdo or glasses. All these things are offered to help people become more employable, but they also improve people's lives in general. Increased self-esteem. Better role models. Healthier kids.

The types of support needed change as a person gets a job, then transitions off assistance. Continued supports once off WorkFirst cash assistance, like health care coverage, food assistance or wage progression services, can make all the difference in a family staying independent.

Remind parents on a regular basis what supports are available and what supports they can receive after they leave WorkFirst cash assistance (without affecting their time limit for WorkFirst cash assistance benefit receipt).

If receiving a low WorkFirst grant, parents might choose to "bank" months of WorkFirst for times of greater need.

Providing the appropriate supports, while encouraging employment, can help us increase WorkFirst exits, reduce WorkFirst returns, and keep caseloads down.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

2.2 Support Services

Revised April 1, 2022

Legal References:

The Support Services section includes:

  • 2.2.1 What are support services?
  • 2.2.2 What is the purpose of support services?
  • 2.2.3 What are the support service limits?
  • 2.2.4 What is Post-TANF Employment Transportation Support Services (PETSS)?
  • 2.2.5 Are there any restrictions on support services?
  • 2.2.6 How do I encourage independence?
  • 2.2.7 Should support services be authorized?
  • 2.2.8 When should support services be denied?
  • 2.2.9 How do I request an Exception to Rule?
  • 2.2.10 Support services - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 2.2.11 Special Instructions – Travel Advance Vouchers
  • 2.2.12 Special Instructions – Department of Licensing (DOL)
  • 2.2.13 Special Instructions – Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • 2.2.14 Special Instructions – U-Haul
  • 2.2.15 Special Instructions – Pearson VUE
  • 2.2.16 Special Instructions – Inpatient Treatment
  • 2.2.17 End of the State Fiscal Year Process
  • 2.2.18 What are the Supervisor Tools?
  • 2.2.18.1 How do supervisors navigate the Financial Reporting System in eJAS?
  • 2.2.18.2 How do supervisors monitor and transfer funds for their local office?
  • 2.2.18.3 Why do supervisors audit support services?
  • 2.2.18.4 When do supervisors audit support services?
  • 2.2.18.5 How do supervisors identify cases for support services audit?
  • 2.2.18.6 How do supervisors conduct the support services audit?

2.2.1 What are Support Services?

Support services are goods and services purchased to help parents/caregivers to participate in required WorkFirst activities, attend WorkFirst Orientation, or needs for emergency situations. We offer support services when there is no other way to meet a family's essential needs while using sound judgment to determine what is reasonable. This may require using non-traditional or alternative means to meet the family’s goals or needs. For example, a participant starting work may need alternative transportation to work if their work schedule starts before the morning bus line and a bicycle and helmet may be appropriate to approve.

We offer temporary and targeted supports a participant needs to work, look for work, prepare for work, or to participate in required WorkFirst activities. Support services are available, as needed, throughout a participant's time on WorkFirst cash assistance.

Support services are also available to:

  • Allow applicants to attend and complete a WorkFirst Orientation prior to TANF/SFA approval.
  • Participants who are curing sanction.
  • Ineligible minor parents who are working with the social service specialist to either enroll in school as required or move to an acceptable living arrangement.
  • Teens 17 and 18 years old in a WorkFirst Activity (school clothes are not a needed item for support services).

See Social Services Manual (Pregnant and Participating Minors)

WorkFirst Program Specialists, Job Services Specialists and Community Jobs (CJ) contractors can authorize support services.

2.2.2 What is the purpose of Support Services?

The purpose of WorkFirst support services is to offer a resource for participants who are actively engaged in job search or work activities. Some support services are also available to participants if they have a need while they are participating in other activities (such as completion of the WorkFirst Orientation), with the main focus of employment or advancing in employment. The support service chart in WAC 388-310-0800 shows the support services categories and when they can be offered.

Support services should be provided based on the immediate needs of the participant. The category recommendations should not be considered an entitled amount, but as the suggested limits the program can provide in any given category of support service. Do not automatically issue the maximum dollar amount for the support service. Issue the least amount needed to meet the participants need. The main focus of support services is to subsidize participants' efforts toward finding employment, remaining employed, or advancing into better employment.

2.2.3 What are the Support Services limits?

There is a $5,000 yearly limit for each WorkFirst participant in the family. Some services don't count towards the yearly limit, such as childcare and accommodations. There are hard edits in eJAS for the annual limit, meaning the eJAS system won't allow payments exceeding this limit.

Activity categories include:

  • Work-related: working, looking for work, work-like activities
  • Safety-related: meeting significant or emergency family safety needs such as family violence
  • Other activities: any other activity contained in the participant’s IRP

The amount of support services authorized must be based on the participant's needs and must stay within the program limits. The only possible exceptions to the limit are when a participant has a crisis situation (such as fleeing domestic violence) or a unique and justifiable need that can be approved through the formal exception to rule process. The process for requesting an exception to rule is described in its own subsection below (Exception to Rule).

The Support Services Directory lists the suggested use and dollar limits for each service.

2.2.4 What is Post-TANF Employment Transportation Support Services (PETSS)?

PETSS provides transportation-related support services in the three months after TANF closes, for participants who are exiting TANF/SFA and have verified unsubsidized employment of 15+ hours per week. The purpose is to help mitigate the cliff effect that often happens for families when they start new employment and are over-income for TANF/SFA. Households that closed due to Non-Compliance Sanction are not eligible for PETSS.

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Reviews case and determines if there are needed transportation-related support services:
     
    1. Is the TANF/SFA closed?
       
      1. If yes, did the TANF/SFA AU close, less than 3 months ago?
      2. If yes, is there verified unsubsidized employment of 15+ hours per week?
      3. Documents actions taken and support services needed in eJAS notes.
  1. Issues the support services following the instructions in 2.2.10 Support Services - Step-by-Step Guide.

See the PETSS Desk Aid, for more details on how to issue support services after an AU is closed

2.2.5 Are there any restrictions on support services?

Some items can never be purchased with Support Services. They include:

  • Weapons,
  • Motor vehicles,
  • Court-imposed fines,
  • Loan payments,
  • Services normally provided by state employees such as job placement, or
  • Items that the participant's Washington Apple Health benefits will cover.

As shown on the chart below, the types of services you can authorize also vary depending on the person's WorkFirst status.

 

Authorizing Support Services

WorkFirst Applicants

Supports that enable the participant who may be in pending status but appear to be eligible for WorkFirst to:

  • Attend WorkFirst Orientation;
  • Cure sanction;
  • Have an emergency situation;
  • Continue to look for, prepare for, or obtain work; or
  • Provide verification/documentation for Time Limit Extension

WorkFirst Recipients

Authorize support services the participant needs to help them continue to:

  • Look for, prepare for, or obtain work; or
  • Progress toward self-sufficiency

Examples include meeting the initial costs of employment, transportation, barrier removal, or skills training

Post-TANF Employment Transportation Support Services (PETSS)

 

Authorize transportation-related services the participant needs help to maintain their employment of at least 15 hours/week for up to 3 months after TANF closes.

 

2.2.6 How do I encourage independence?

WorkFirst has a limited amount of resources to use as a supplement to the participant's own resources, and other available resources. This approach means that support services can be a teaching tool to help participants understand what they will need to transition off WorkFirst. Participants will also benefit from goal-setting using the below talking points when they receive support services:

  • How to use what they have on hand?
  • How to budget their income?
  • How to create contingency plans?
  • How to plan for future expenses?
  • Identifying what specific needs they plan to cover through increased wages?

WorkFirst staff combine the participant's resources with what the program can provide. For example, if a participant has a car repair need that costs $700 so they can keep their job, the participant and the worker may find out from the vendor how much of the cost could be paid in installments if the program paid for a large portion of the repair up front.

In the same way, WorkFirst can supplement the participant's clothing, hygiene items, transportation costs and so on, but shouldn’t be the only source to cover the costs. WorkFirst is there to help when the participant needs a hand, but should encourage the participant to become increasingly self-reliant with a goal of complete and lasting independence.

Services provided after the participant is working should be transitional in nature, to assist the participants when they need it. Again, the goal is to provide temporary help that meets their need, adds to their coping skills, and fosters the participant's growing sense of independence.

2.2.7 Should support services be authorized?

It is important to talk to the participant about the purposes of support services when they have a request. The intent of support services is to meet temporary, targeted needs and get participants started towards independence. They are also a valuable and limited resource.

As you talk to participants about support services, you need to review the case and current status in activities before approving the request including but not limited to:

  • Actual Hours
  • Notes
  • Components

As you explore whether the participant can use other resources to meet their need - do not hold off on authorizing needed supports until you explore every possible alternative. The intent is to use other resources that are readily at hand in place of support services when possible.

Remember, support services are not meant to be an ongoing supplement if the participant is able to meet the need ongoing or there are other sources . It may often make sense to deny requests, authorize less than originally requested, or find another way to meet the need or part of the need.

2.2.8 When should support services be denied?

We deny requests for support services when they aren't needed to meet an appropriate purpose, the request exceeds the annual limit, or the participant can meet the need in another way. When we deny these requests, we need to:

  • Document the denial in eJAS,
  • Tell the participant why the request was denied, and
  • Make sure the participant knows they may request an administrative hearing.

It is particularly important to document support service denials in eJAS so we will have the information needed to justify the denial if they request an administrative hearing.

2.2.9 How do I request an Exception to Rule?

When necessary, you can request an exception to rule (ETR) to exceed the support services annual limit or when a need is outside the written policy limitations. This is a formal exception request process where headquarters staff make the decision. State office may approve these exceptions when the participant's situation differs from the majority and has a significant impairment or limitation that isn’t addressed by current limits. Explain to the participant, when you submit these requests, there is no guarantee state office will approve them.

To request an exception to rule, the WFPS/SS must complete the Barcode ETR request process. For complete instructions on processing an ETR the EA-Z Manual provides more details.

When a participant has an emergency situation that seriously jeopardizes family health or safety, ask your supervisor to request emergency supports to exceed the annual limit. This option is reserved for families who face imminent harm and need active crisis intervention, like covering gas and relocation costs for a family actively fleeing domestic violence. Your supervisor will be able to call in these emergency requests to state office for immediate decisions.

2.2.10 Support Services - Step-by-Step Guide

For complete eJAS directions, click "Help" on the eJAS page when help is needed. Note: WF CSD staff can utilize the Determining and Authorizing Support Services Flowchart.

  1. The WFPS/WFSSS or ESD Career Scope Coach:
    1. Determines needed support services based on the activities in the IRP, to attend WorkFirst Orientation, or for emergency situations.
      1. Discusses the best option with the participant to provide services and vendors, and whether a voucher or Bank of America (BOA) fuel card, better fits their needs (based on the determined need, explain the process of how the services will be issued; i.e., card or voucher).
      2. Reviews past support services authorized by DSHS, Commerce, ESD, or SBCTC to ensure no duplication of supports.
      3. Determines the best and/or lowest-cost alternative (for example, request two estimates for car repair).
      4. Determines how participant chooses to receive (direct issuance, by mail or pick-up at local office).
    2. Authorizes and issues support services, following local office procedure, including:
      1. Creating voucher/s:
        1. Enters detailed information on the voucher, outlining what's being purchased and the cost of each participant item (e.g. "Car repair - For repair of the transmission on 2010 Ford Escape not to exceed $XXX).
        2. Prints and signs the voucher. Obtains embossing of WorkFirst seal and signature from a supervisor or designated staff for all vouchers, which validates to the vendor the document is an original. The voucher is "invalid unless embossed." The only exception is direct payment vouchers. 
      2. Issuing BOA fuel cards, bus passes or bus tickets. *Follow the Support Services Negotiables Internal Controls & Purchasing Manual - 1.4.2.1  - now located on the WorkFirst SharePoint Site.
Please note: Cancel pending requests if the BOA card isn't picked up within 10 business days from the authorization date.

       c. Documents in eJAS support services notes the reasons for selecting and authorizing support services and answers the following:

  1. What resources are currently available or quickly obtained?
  2. How much do they need to reserve to cover their on-going needs?
  3. What lower cost alternative are available, if any?
  4. How do they plan to take over ongoing costs in the future?
  • Guidance for signing vouchers can be found in the Supervisor Review Reference Guide.
  • For ESD, please refer to the Internal Controls Manual.
  • Commerce Program providers, refer to your Commerce WorkFirst Contract.

Instructions for vouchers with direct payments without a signature.

This may include payments for mental health assessments, medical records requests, Department of Licensing (DOL) online purchases, or any payments made on behalf of the participant (these vouchers aren't given directly to the participant). In the event you can't obtain the participant’s signature and efforts have been made to secure the signature, the issuing WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Documents the reason for not obtaining the participant signature in eJAS notes.
  • Writes on the voucher (participant signature line) “see eJAS notes dated mm/dd/yy” for an explanation,
  • Prints and signs voucher,
  • Obtains the supervisor or designated staff signature, and
  • Submits the voucher for payment.

2.2.11 Special Instructions for Travel Advance Vouchers (DSHS only)

  1. To create a travel advance voucher or an advance to a vendor for gas:
    1. Give the participant the WorkFirst Travel and Attendance form, DSHS 07-073(X) .
    2. Instruct the participant to keep a detailed record of miles traveled for the WorkFirst activity(s).
    3. Inform the participant that the advance will be automatically deducted from the next travel payment.
  2. To purchase services or items from a single vendor for multiple participants (such as bus passes)
    1. Use a bulk purchase log to attribute the participant costs to the appropriate participants; and,
    2. A voucher for bulk purchases.

2.2.12 Special Instructions - Department of Licensing (DOL)

When a participant requests DOL-related support services, WorkFirst Program Specialists (WFPS) or Social Service Specialists (WFSSS) follows the steps below to issue DOL vouchers :

  1. For person-level services such as a driver’s license, CDL, drivers abstract or state identification card:
    1. Create a voucher using vendor id: SWV0011175E1
    2. Inform the participant that they can take the voucher to any DOL office.

Note: If DOL does not accept the WF vouchers for person-level services outlined above, send an email to customercare@dol.wa.gov at DOL. This does NOT include vehicle-related issues.

  1. For vehicle-related DOL online services including eligible renewal of vehicle tabs.

​WFPS/WFSSS staff:

  1. Determine if a participant is eligible for online services using a Vehicle Tabs Checklist (DSHS Form 07-110).
  2. Verify the vehicle is registered to the participant prior to services being approved.
  3. If a participant is not eligible for online services:
    1. Provide clear documentation in eJAS client notes detailing why online services were denied.
    2. Follow the current process outlined in #3 of this section for issuing a voucher/warrant.
  4. If a participant is eligible for online services:
    1. Complete the Vehicle Tabs Checklist, generate voucher using vendor id: SWV003545973, and submit to a WFPS/WFSSS Supervisor for review and signature.
    2. Scan and email Vehicle Tabs Checklist and voucher to Regional Headquarters at one of the following:
    3. Scanned documents don't need to be saved to a folder, they can be accessed from the scanned email.

Regional staff:

  1. Review request, checklist, and voucher.
  2. If unable to process the request, notify the WFPS/WFSSS and supervisor by email.
  3. If the request is approved:
    1. Complete the transaction within a 48 business hour time frame.
    2. Send a confirmation email of payment to the WFPS/WFSSS and supervisor.
    3. Stamp the checklist complete and send to HIU for indexing.
  4. Complete a monthly packet to be sent to ESA Accounting to include:
    1. The charge card log
    2. The monthly online card statement 
    3. Signed voucher approving purchase
    4. Copy of the receipt from DOL website showing proof of payment
    5. Verify the items on the credit card log match what is reported by US Bank
      1. If the Regional Staff is missing paperwork, they need to work with the CSO to get the paperwork needed
    6. Once the packet is completed, either scan to the Accounting inbox- ejasvouchersforesafinance@dshs.wa.gov, or use Campus Mail to the ESA HQ Accounting office at MS 45445

3. For vehicle-related DOL services not eligible for online payments, including title transfers and tabs expired over a year:

WFPS/WFSSS staff:

  1. Create a voucher using vendor id: SWV0011175E6 and scan to eJASVouchersforESAFinance@dshs.wa.gov at ESA HQ - Fiscal.
    1. Finance creates a warrant and mails to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  2. Receives the warrant and contact the participant to let them know the voucher is ready for them at the local office and:
    1. Require the participant to sign the voucher as a receipt of the warrant;
    2. Lets the participant know they can take the warrant to any vehicle licensing office (Independent distributor or county office) to pay for the service.

Note: This process can take 5 to 10 business days.

2.2.13 Special Instructions – Department of Transportation (DOT)

 When a participant requests DOT-Good to Go support services, the WorkFirst Program Specialists or Social Service Specialists will:

  1. Advise participant they are required to set up a Good to Go account with DOT if they don’t have an account, and when the balance of the account reaches zero, any additional usage will result in a toll bill mailed to the address on the vehicle registration.
  2. Determine the voucher amount which could include the $5.00 Good to Go pass and any subsequent tolls which may vary across the state. A minimum deposit of $30.00 is required to open a Good to Go account.

Active/Open Good to Go Account (process may take 2-5 days):

  1. Create a voucher using subcategory 43 public transportation and vendor id: SWV000801117, include the Good to Go account number in the voucher and scan to eJASVouchersforESAFinance@dshs.wa.gov at ESA HQ - Fiscal.
  2. Finance will electronically deposit the funds directly into the good to go account.

No Active/Open Good to Go Account (process may take 10-14 days):

  1. Create a voucher using category 43 public transportation and vendor id: SWV000801117 and scan to eJASVouchersforESAFinance@dshs.wa.gov at ESA HQ - Fiscal.
  2. Finance will create a warrant and mail it to the CSO.
  3. The WFPS/SSS will receive the warrant and contact the participant to let them know the voucher is ready for them at the local office and:
    1. Require the participant to sign the voucher as a receipt of the warrant;
    2. Let the participant know they can take the warrant to any Good to Go Walk-in Customer Service Centers to open an account and pay for the service.

2.2.14 Special Instructions - U-Haul

When a participant requests U-Haul-related support services, WorkFirst Program Specialists or Social Service Specialists follow the steps below to issue these vouchers:

  1. Require the participant to provide a quote for the rental services.
  2. Create an eJAS voucher using vendor number SWV007033600 and have the supervisor and participant sign it.Hold the voucher until steps 3 and 4 are complete.
  3. Email CSDHQUhaulRentals@dshs.wa.gov with a request for a gift certificate in a specific amount with a description of what the participant is reserving. The request will be processed within 24 business hours. 
  4. Receive gift certificate email from CSD Headquarters and contact the participant to:
    1. Come to the office to pick-up the printed gift certificate; or
    2. Verbally give the participant the gift certificate number over the phone; and
    3. Ensure the participant understands that:
      1. They present the gift certificate or number to U-Haul and sign the rental agreement.
      2. They must keep the gift certificate or number because a replacement can’t be issued.
      3. Neither DSHS nor Corporate U-Haul is responsible for any additional charges.
  5. Mail signed voucher to ESA HQ – Fiscal.

2.2.15 Special Instructions - Pearson VUE Testing Fee Process

  1. Participant/College notifies WFPS/SSS that the participant is ready for testing through Pearson VUE.
  2. WFPS/SSS prepares EJAS voucher with Pearson VUE (SWV000317209) as the name of the vendor. (This will allow for participant attribution).
  3. WFPS/SSS completes Pearson VUE voucher sales order, prints hard copy, and then selects "SUBMIT" at the bottom of the form to auto-send the sales order to vendor. You can find a sample of the Pearson VUE sales order form in the resource section below.
  4. WFPS/SSS scans the EJAS voucher and Pearson VUE voucher sales order and emails them to: eJASVouchersforESAFinance@dshs.wa.gov with "Voucher ID: 12345678 – Client Name- (Test Name) Testing Authorization" In the subject line and the following in the body:
    1. Participant Name
    2. Participant EJAS Number
  5. WFPS/SSS provides the hard copy of the voucher to the approved CSO staff pending the receipt of the test code.
  6. ESA Finance processes voucher and authorizes direct payment to Pearson VUE. Allow 3-5 days.
  7. Pearson VUE sends the testing code to the CSO listserv. (Only the Approved CSO Staff will have access to the listserv)
  8. CSO Staff with access to the2.2.15 Special Instructions listserv notifies the WFPS/SSS that the testing code has been received.
  9. WFPS/SSS notifies the participant that the testing code is available for pick up.
  10. When the participant comes and picks up the testing code, the WFPS/SSS:
    1. Writes the testing on hard copy of initial voucher;
    2. Has the participant sign voucher and then gives them a copy of the voucher;
    3. Scans and emails the voucher to: eJASVouchersforESAFinance@dshs.wa.gov with "Voucher ID: 12345678 – Client Name- Testing Code Issued" in the subject line and the following in the body:
      1. Participant Name
      2. Participant EJAS Number

For more testing information, please check Pearson VUE website

 

2.2.16 Special Instructions - Inpatient Treatment

This process outlines the steps staff should take when a participant is in an inpatient treatment facility and requests support services from a CSO outside their originating CSO’s catchment area.  The steps only apply to participants planning to return to their originating CSO after treatment:

  1. The originating CSO:

    1. Discusses necessary support services with participant for inpatient treatment.
    2. Issues support services at the time of setting up the IRP with inpatient treatment activity.
      1. Updates the mailing address to the treatment facility address and documents the change in ACES and eJAS
    3. Reviews support service procedures if additional support services are requested while in inpatient treatment to determine if the participant meets support service criteria in this chapter.
Note: Many treatment centers offer supports including diapers, personal hygiene products and transportation if the participant can’t afford these items.
  1. When a participant is in inpatient treatment and goes into a local CSO for support services, the CSO:

    1. Coordinates with the WFPS/SSS of record to follow the above process.
    2. Determines that a support service is appropriate if unable to make contact with the WFPS/SSS of record.
    3. Transfers the case record to the CSO near the treatment facility to create and issue the support service.
    4. WFPS/SSS transfers the case record back to the originating CSO for continued case management. 

2.2.17 End of the State Fiscal Year Process?

As we approach the end of the state fiscal year, follow the instruction below:

1. Before or on June 30:

Vouchers

  • Advise the participant to use voucher prior to June 30..
  • Receive the purchase or service.

Bulk Purchases

Until further notice, bulk purchases may not be made by any office or region without approval through ETR from HQ. The only exception is transportation bulk purchases, which require approval from Regional Coordinators.

The following is the approval process for CSO transportation bulk purchases:

  • CSO submits the request to the Regional WorkFirst Coordinator for WorkFirst Support Services, and/or the Social Services Coordinator for ABD or MCS with the following information:
    • Program (e.g. WorkFirst or ABD or MCS)
    • Type of the bulk purchase (e.g. bus passes or tickets)
    • Item amount of the purchase (e.g. number of passes or tickets)
  • The Regional Coordinator makes the determination and notifies the appropriate CSO of the approval or denial of the purchase.

After the CSO has received approval, the CSO uses support services log when issuing bus tickets, bus passes and other transportation negotiable to a participant. The support services log needs to be included with the monthly CSO Negotiable Inventory Reports sent to ESA HQ Fiscal.

  • Create voucher for purchase.
  • Receive the bulk purchase merchandise.

Mileage reimbursement

  • Obligate mileage reimbursement to the participant if the mileage form is returned.
  • If the reimbursement form is turned in after June 30, process the payment for the previous program year.

Payments

  • Process as usual
    • No payments are authorized the last four working days of the month.
  • All payments use the current allocation year.

 

2. After June 30:

Vouchers

  • If the participant did not use the voucher until July
    • Create a new voucher for the new program year.
    • Attach the returned voucher for payment to the new voucher.

Bank of America Fuel cards

  • If the participant did not pick up the BOA cards until after July 1, cancel the pending authorization, and reissue the cards, document in eJAS.

Bulk Purchases

  • If bulk purchases are received after July 1, deobligate and reissue the voucher in new program year.

Payments

  • If the service or purchase were done before July 1, process the payment using the year the voucher was obligated in.

Allocation

  • Regions should add $10,000 to each offices allocation for the new program year.

2.2.18 What are the Supervisor Tools?

 

2.2.18.1 How do supervisors navigate the Financial Reporting System in eJAS?

eJAS contains many tools to help supervisors track support services expenditures. From the eJAS Home page menu there are a variety of “paths” a supervisor can take to review vouchers, BOA gas cards and other support services and the issues they may have.

Financial Reporting - Supervisors use the Financial Reporting page to:

  • View a specific voucher or batch header.
  • View payments to a specific vendor.
  • Print reports of unpaid vouchers, outstanding obligations for the office, or payments made to a specific client or vendor.

Payment Maintenance - Supervisors use the Payment Maintenance page to:

  • Create a Bulk Purchase Voucher.
  • Transportation Reimbursement.
  • Voucher Maintenance.
  • Access the Pre-created Support Services tool.
    • Pre-Created Reports for Support Services allows supervisors to inquire on the support services expenditures at CSO, or worker level as close to real time as possible. Pre-Created Reports for Support Services is useful for:
      • Monitoring spending at CSOs
      • Reviewing outstanding vouchers
      • Reviewing the types of support services issued by workers and the office. This can help a supervisor see if their office is using all support services available to participants.

Note: When using Pre-Created Reports for Support Services, the WorkFirst Project Code is 2471

2.2.18.2 How do supervisors monitor and transfer funds for their local office?

Each region receives funding at the beginning of each state fiscal year (SFY) to distribute to the CSOs to provide support services to WorkFirst participants. These are placed into an “account” for each CSO by the regional WorkFirst Coordinator and are referred to as Allocations. To learn more about what decisions go into determining how money is allocated to your CSO, or how to have more funds made available for your CSO, contact your regional WorkFirst Coordinator.

Support services allocations for each CSO can be found under “Allocations” from the eJAS Home page. On that page, you can see:

  • Support Service Max – Shows you how much money has been budgeted for a particular CSO, for the current state fiscal year, and shows a percentage of remaining money compared to how much has been obligated. The dollar amount can change during the year, speak to your local regional coordinator about the amount there and if more funds are available.
    • Allocation – Shows how much funding is currently available to the CSO for support services. Supervisors can move these funds around to the appropriate field, depending on how they decide to monitor the budget.
    • Allocation Balance – Shows how much money is available to be used by WorkFirst Program Specialists and WorkFirst Social Services Specialists to create/issue vouchers and BOA cards for participants. If there is not enough funding available, eJAS will not allow the voucher or BOA card to be created/issued.
    • Obligation Total – Shows how much funding has been issued in vouchers/BOA cards/bulk purchases.
    • Payments – Shows how much funding has been processed and paid to the vendor.
    • Obligation Balance – Shows how much funding is still outstanding and has not been processed for payment. Vouchers take time to get to the vendor, and then back to DSHS for payment. Note: When vouchers are canceled, the funding moves from this column, back to Allocation Balance.

Early Exit – No longer used.

2.2.18.3 Why do supervisors audit support services?

Audits are an important tool for supervisors for a variety of reasons:

  • Ensure the workers are making the best possible, and equitable, decisions when issuing support services, as well as documenting the approval, issuance, and denial of support services.
    • Find areas of:
      • Improvement needed by staff, which could include under or overuse.  Improvement cannot happen if we don’t know where we excel and where we need to make some adjustments.
      • Successes and best practices achieved by staff. We can celebrate them with the CSO. Audits are not just meant to find problems, but also to find where we do our best work. Morale is improved for everyone when we get to commend someone on a job well done!
      • Policies and procedures that are not working as intended.

2.2.18.4 When do we audit support service issuances?

Support services audits are randomly selected and completed monthly, for the previous month, for support services issued to WorkFirst participants. It’s important to complete audits timely so any feedback given is relevant to everyone’s current work and corrections can be made quickly and successes can be built upon.

2.2.18.5 How do supervisors identify cases for support service audit?

Review all support services and gas cards issued.

For vouchers:

  1. From the eJAS Home screen, go to Financial Reporting and select List Vouchers by Worker.
  2. In the Worker field, enter the workers xxxx300 ID.
  3. Click Produce Report (Note, none of the other fields will matter, the search result will not change)
  4. eJAS will list all vouchers created by that worker.
  5. In the “Voucher Issue Date” field at the top of the page, enter the first date of the audit month.
  6. Copy all Client ID’s for the audit month.

For Bank of America Gas Cards:

  1. From the eJAS Home screen, go to Adhoc
  2. In the first box, choose “By Component Case Manager” and enter the workers eJAS ID (000XXX). Click the dropdown box next to “Open cases” and choose “Open Adult Recipients”
  3. In the third box, select “View notes”, “With”, “Negotiable”, “Any Issue” and enter the beginning of the audit month in the “Since” box
  4. At the bottom of the page, click “Submit Request”
  5. Choose to either “Print”, “Email”, or “Submit Request” to view all cases.

Total up the vouchers and gas cards and choose 10% of the cases to audit.

2.2.18.6 How do I conduct the support services audit?

Use the issuances collected in the previous chapter and go to the WorkFirst Support Services Review tool. On a second screen, or separate window, open eJAS and go to the Narrative about the support service that you are auditing. Click “⊕ new item” to start:

  • All fields with a red * are required to be filled. Fill every box above the first item.
  • There are calendar boxes to simplify entering dates and address books to enter the names in the name boxes. The name boxes will validate the name against the names in the Active Directory. To make it easier, it is suggested to use the address book icons. For CSO, enter the CSO number.
  • Use the following guide to assist in completing the rest of the audit:
  1. Did the worker document that the support service was needed and/or requested by the participant?
    1. Select Yes/No.
  2. Did the documentation indicate the support service was issued to assist the client in attending WorkFirst Orientation, WorkFirst Activities, or emergency situations?
    1. Select Yes/No.
  3. Was the support service similar to another support issued by a partner, around the same time?
    1. Select Yes/No. Note: This only applies to partners who have access to eJAS (Commerce, ESD, ORIA, SBCTC).
  4. Did the worker document what resources the participant has available to cover the expense?
    1. Select Yes/No. Note: If Yes or N/A are selected, 4a will not be selectable.
      1. Select whether the case notes were either unclear, or omitted the information.
  5. Did the worker document how much of their own resources they reserved to cover their ongoing needs?
    1. Select Yes/No. Note: If Yes or N/A are selected, 5a will not be selectable.
      1. Select whether the case notes were either unclear, or omitted the information.
  6. Did the worker document if there were lower cost alternatives?
    1. Select Yes/No. Note: If Yes or N/A are selected, 6a will not be selectable. Some support services will not have lower costs available or may already be the lowest cost alternative (e.g., public transit, fees for medical records), choose N/A.
      1. Select whether the case notes were either unclear, or omitted the information.
  7. Did the worker document how the participant will be able to pay for the support service, on their own, in the future?
    1. Select Yes/No. Note: If Yes or N/A are selected, 7a will not be selectable.
      1. Select whether the case notes were either unclear, or omitted the information.
  8. Did the worker issue the support service correctly, per procedure?
    1. Select Yes/No.
  9. Enter any comments/concerns/praise you have that may have not been addressed in any of the above questions.
  10. Enter the email address of the worker being audited. They will receive a copy of the results.
  11. Mark the audit Complete.

Once all required fields have been submitted, click “Save” near the top left corner of the page.

Note: If all of the required fields are not completed, a warning will pop-up and you will not be able to submit the audit until you fill in all the required fields.

 

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

2.3 Working Connections Child Care (WCCC)

Revised October 1, 2021

Legal References:

The Working Connections Child Care section includes:

  • 2.3.1 What is Working Connections Child Care (WCCC)?
  • 2.3.2 Who is eligible for WCCC (and for how long)?
  • 2.3.3 Are Tribal families eligible for WCCC?
  • 2.3.4 What activities does WCCC cover?
  • 2.3.5 What is safe and affordable child care?
  • 2.3.6 What are the requirements for an in-home/relative child care provider?
  • 2.3.7 What are WCCC copayments?
  • 2.3.8 WCCC - Step-by-Step Guide to apply for WCCC.

2.3.1 What is WCCC?

Working Connections Child Care, or WCCC, is the child care subsidy program that helps families with children pay for child care to find jobs, keep their jobs, and get better jobs. The WCCC program is administered by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

2.3.2 Who is eligible for WCCC (and for how long)?

A family can get WCCC as long as they meet all of the program's eligibility requirements within 14 days of application (receipt of WCCC doesn't count toward the WorkFirst cash assistance five year time limit). The two main categories of WCCC-eligible families are:

  • WorkFirst cash assistance families: Participants who are DSHS or Tribal WorkFirst participants in approved WorkFirst activities, and applicants waiting to enter an approved activity such as attending the new WorkFirst Orientation as a requirement of eligibility.
  • Non-WorkFirst families: Working families whose countable income is at or below 60% of the state median income (SMI). The SMI guideline adjusts for family size.

A WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist can give families who have questions and need WCCC coverage a copy of the flyer called General Information for WorkFirst Participants Needing Child Care Subsidy Assistance. For example, you may want to use the flyer when you complete or update the participants Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP). The flyer gives basic information about how to apply for childcare.

2.3.3 Are Tribal families eligible for WCCC?

Tribal families are unique because they may participate in either a DSHS WorkFirst or a Tribal WorkFirst program and may require child care in order to participate.

Tribal families have the benefit of "dual eligibility" for child care. This allows families to receive child care coverage from either the WCCC program or through their tribal organization. The WCCC program doesn't require the Tribal family be denied child care by the tribe before applying for WCCC. If a tribal family finds they aren't eligible through the WCCC program, they can still apply through the tribe.

Tribal families may receive their WorkFirst cash assistance from a Tribal TANF Program or from DSHS TANF program (Please see Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-400-0005 for budgeting Tribal TANF). The Tribal program needs to contact WCCC to verify participation within 14 days of application. Tribal families who receive only food and/or medical benefits can be considered a Non-WorkFirst cash assistance recipient for WCCC purposes.

2.3.4 What activities does WCCC cover?

WCCC can subsidize child care needed during the hours a participant is working, in an approved training plan or engaged in other types of approved WorkFirst activities, or waiting to enter an approved activity such as completing WorkFirst Orientation as a requirement of WorkFirst cash eligibility.

A WorkFirst participant can be authorized for WCCC when they apply for TANF and/or begin participating in an approved WorkFirst activity as outlined in their Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP). Child care is terminated if the participant isn't placed in an approved WorkFirst activity within 14 days of application. 

2.3.5 What is safe and affordable child care?

WCCC consumers can choose to use licensed/certified family child care homes and child care centers. Consumers may also use what we call "in-home/relative" providers. An in-home/relative provider must be:

  • An adult chosen by the WCCC consumer to provide child care in the consumer's own home, or
  • An adult relative (to specific degree) where the consumer may choose child care in either the consumer's or the relative's home.

It is very important to ensure that WorkFirst participants have safe and affordable child care (for their children under 13 years old) while they participate in work or other IRP activities. If a participant does not have adequate child care, we refer them to the WCCC worker for help.

We never require WorkFirst participants to engage in WorkFirst activities until they locate child care (for their children under 13 years) that is:

  • Affordable (doesn't cost more than the copayment would under the WCCC program);
  • Appropriate (licensed, certified, or approved under federal, state, or tribal law and regulations for the type of care they use and that they were able to choose, within locally available options, who would provide it); and
  • Within a reasonable distance (within reach without traveling farther than is expected in their community).

Participants who have children (0-18 years old) with special needs may have additional difficulties finding safe and affordable care. WCCC offers these families additional resources in the form of:

  • A special needs rate to providers, and
  • Referrals to Public Health Nurses for assessment of the child. The assessment determines how the child's needs affect the parent's ability to participate in WorkFirst activities (See the link to the PHN Referral Form in the Resource section below.)

2.3.6 What are the requirements for in-home/relative childcare provider?

Participants applying to use an in-home/relative care provider may need to wait to receive required background check results. The WCCC program starts authorization for payment for child care based on the date the provider is approved. The WCCC program doesn't pay for in-home/relative child care provided before the provider is approved. This policy is designed to protect the health and safety of children.

When establishing participation requirements for participant who are waiting for in-home child care approval, DSHS staff has the following options:

  • Under parental choice, a participant can decide to use an unapproved in-home/relative provider, but you must document clearly in the case record that they understand the department doesn't pay for these services.
  • The participant is required to look for appropriate, alternative child care until an in-home provider is approved for payment. The following situations are considered inappropriate for short-term, temporary child care, and would, therefore allow the participant to wait for in-home coverage before they participate:
    • Care is needed for a child under one year old;
    • Care is needed for multiple children and can only be provided by multiple child care providers;
    • The participant can demonstrate that the child cannot function outside of her or his home environment; or,
    • An exception to rule is approved for other situations, not covered above, that pose an unusual and significant risk to the family from using available child care.

Refer the participant to your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency to get help finding licensed child care. The CCR&R can be reached at 1 (800)-446-1114.

Document the circumstances in the participant's case notes if they won't be required to seek child care while an in-home/relative care request is pending. Refer to Participation While Resolving Issues section for the procedures to monitor the case while no child care is available.

2.3.7 What are WCCC copayments?

A participant's monthly contribution toward the cost of child care is called a copayment. The copayment is based on family size and countable income in relation to 60% of the state median income (SMI) guidelines.

There are five copayment "levels" based on the family's countable income:

If household income is: Then the household's maximum monthly copayment is:
0 to 20% SMI No copay
More than 20% to 36% SMI $65 Copay
More that 36% to 50% SMI $90 Copay
More than 50% to 60% SMI $115 Copay. Families over 60% SMI at application are not eligible.
More than 60% to 65% SMI $215 Copay. Second tier eligibility is for families reapplying and under 65% SMI.

 

For additional information about copayments,  refer to the Child Care Subsidy Programs Manual.

2.3.8 WCCC - Step-by-Step Guide to apply for WCCC.

  1. The WFPS/WFSSS ensures the participants are engaged in approved WorkFirst activity and refers them to a WCCC worker for further application needs.
  2. WFPS/WFSSS can't apply for, or approve child care. The participant must choose from the options below when applying for WCCC:
  • Online, Washington Connections at https://www.washingtonconnection.org/home/ and complete the application online, or
  • Apply by phone at toll free, 1 (844) 626-8687 (application hours are; Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm) or
  • Complete the child care application form in person, at the local CSO office, or mail the application to the following address as follows:

 

Child Care Subsidy Contact Center
Department of Children, Youth, and Families
PO Box 11346, Tacoma, WA 98411-9903

 

Note: The fax number, if using a fax to send in the application is as follows: 1 (877) 309-9747.

The applicant or participant needs to provide information when applying for WCCC as follows:

  • The activity schedule, including the anticipated days per week and scheduled times child care is needed. Example: Monday through Friday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm or, Saturday 5:30 pm to midnight.
  • If working, wage stubs or verification of gross income for the past 3 months.
  • Travel time from the chosen daycare location, to the WorkFirst activity or employer if working.
  • General provider information. Child care provider information, to seek a provider, call 1-(800)-446-1114.
  • Payment start dates depends on the type of provider chosen, (licensed or unlicensed) and the provider's eligibility, including verification the provider passed the background check. (When using an unlicensed friend or family member provider.)
  • A licensed provider can be an option, while the background check is being processed for the unlicensed provider.

Note:  There may be cases where the participant has already applied for WCCC at application.  WCCC is approved initially for the applicant to complete all TANF eligibility requirements and must be in an approved WorkFirst activity within 14 days of application to continue receiving WCCC without breaking the continuity of care.

 

The WCCC authorizing worker:

  1. Helps the WorkFirst participant find safe, affordable and appropriate child care, as needed.
  2. Confirms the participant is in an approved activity plan, as necessary.

Note: More detailed information about the WCCC Program can be found in the resource section below.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

Chapter 3: Tools

3.1 Overview

Revised on: November 15, 2021

The Tools-Overview section includes:

  • 3.1.1 What are the tools WFPS/WFSSS use?
  • 3.1.2 What are our guiding principals for tool use? 
  • 3.1.3 Additional considerations when communication and engaging a participant.

3.1.1 What are the tools WFPS/WFSSS use?

This chapter describes the major tools and techniques WorkFirst Program Specialists (WFPS)/WorkFirst Social Services Specialists (WFSSS) use to help WorkFirst participants succeed. To be fully effective, most of these tools rely heavily on the partnerships and communication between the participant and case manager, including collaboration with WorkFirst agencies.

The main tools used to partner with a WorkFirst participant are listed below with a brief description.

Tool Description
Case staffing Case staffing is a group process, which creates an opportunity for the WFPS/WFSSS to discuss with the participant their engagement in activities. Professionals and partners the participant is engaged with can also be invited to the case staffing and provide support. 
Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) Continuous Activity Planning is an informal consultation or joint evaluation with available WorkFirst partners, DSHS co-workers, or other service providers.
Customer Driven Severity Scale An optional tool that provides support and guidance to WFPS around assessing the participant’s barriers and their need to connect with a WFSSS. 
eJAS eJAS is an automation tool for WFPS, WFSSS, Community and Technical Colleges, Career Scope Coaches, Commerce agencies and many contracted service providers, such as contractors that serve our limited English population. It allows for documentation of participation and any barriers participants experience when seeking employment. Service providers use eJAS to report participation to the WFPS/WFSSS. 
Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) An Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) outlines a participant's required action steps towards self-sufficiency.
Intensive Services  Intensive services are extra or exceptional supports provided to participants having the greatest difficulty finding and keeping jobs, and achieve success.
Pathway Development Tool The tool used for comprehensive evaluations which are required for all WorkFirst participants. This tool is also used for WorkFirst social service assessments.

Personal Pathway

Effective 11/15/21, the Personal Pathway is suspended until further notice.

A short participant self-assessment, supporting development of rapport between participant and WorkFirst staff, indicating participant areas of interest. The information is used to guide what topics to start with during the comprehensive evaluation discussion and subsequent assessments (where applicable).  
 PRISM
PRISM is a Predictive Modeling tool intended to:
  • Identify sources of medical evidence;
  • Identify high medical risk/special needs participants;
  • Identify barriers and/or risk factors affecting employability; and
  • Assist with referral or treatment for chronic health issues.
Note: Don't use PRISM to gather information for purposes of imposing sanctions for failure to adhere to program standards.
 Protective payee Protective payees are contracted vendors that provide money management to assigned participants to make sure assistance funds are used for basic needs. 
Sanction A sanction is a status that a participant enters when they are able, but refuses to participate as required.
   Stacked Services Stacking services requires the participant to engage in more than one activity at a time - perhaps working with different providers to access services.
 WorkFirst Partner Directory A statewide list of WorkFirst contracted partners, which supports development of an IRP with a participant. Note: This directory is only directly accessible to CSD staff.

3.1.2 What are our guiding principles for tool use?

It is important to:

  • Identify and resolve issues that interfere with employment as soon as possible, without impeding the participant's progress towards economic stability.
  • Require parents/caregivers to participate as close to full-time as possible to make full use of their time on WorkFirst cash assistance. Participants can often do more than one thing at a time and work with more than one provider. Offer stacked services to meet the participant's goals.
  • Believe in the participant's ability--don't make an assumption that the participant cannot succeed.
  • Document issues, strengths, and participation plans on a consistent basis. As you get to know each participant better, you can use new insights to create more effective IRPs.
  • Detail in writing, specific action steps each participant can take to become independent from WorkFirst cash assistance. Even better, you can make joint plans with the participant and community partners so everyone is working towards a common goal.
  • Pool resources and expertise with partners in the community.
  • Everyone is required to participate to the best of their ability. Ongoing communication with the participant focused on their goals provides support to keep the participant engaged. 

3.1.3 Additional considerations when communication and engaging a participant. 

When communicating and engaging with participants, consider the following: 

  • Giving participants information both verbally and in writing, and taking all the time needed to make sure they understand what is required.
  • Making sure all written communication is in plain talk and in the language of the participant's choice. 
  • Checking whether the participant has an Equal Access (EA) plan. If they do, ensure we are following all of the requirements in their EA plan as instructed (see EA-Z Manual: Equal Access[Necessary Supplemental Accommodations]).
  • Letting participants know why you are asking for information (generally, to determine eligibility or to discuss their strengths and barriers to engaging in activities).
  • Using open-ended questions to engage the participant in sharing their strengths and needs.
  • Talking with co-workers, supervisors, or community partners if you have trouble deciding what to do. Someone else may know of another resource or an approach you haven't considered.
  • Fostering relationships with partner agencies and community-based organizations. We have a common goal, and effective coordination can make the difference in creating effective plans.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.2.1 Comprehensive Evaluation

Created on: 
Apr 09 2018

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Legal References:

This WorkFirst Handbook (WFHB) section describes the purpose and content of the comprehensive evaluation, continuous activity planning, and engagement pathways - including:

  • 3.2.1.1 What is the comprehensive evaluation?
  • 3.2.1.2 How do I complete the comprehensive evaluation?
  • 3.2.1.3 What topics does the comprehensive evaluation cover?
  • 3.2.1.4 Who must receive a comprehensive evaluation and when?
  • 3.2.1.5 What is "Continuous Activity Planning"?
  • 3.2.1.6 When is a CAP required?
  • 3.2.1.7 What is "likely to be approved"?
  • 3.2.1.8 What are the engagement pathways following the comprehensive evaluation?
  • 3.2.1.9 How are results of the comprehensive evaluation used to develop an Individual Responsibility Plan?
  • 3.2.1.10 Can a participant be placed in sanction for not participating in the comprehensive evaluation?
  • 3.2.1.11 Comprehensive Evaluation - Step-by-Step Guide

3.2.1.1 What is the comprehensive evaluation?

The purpose of the comprehensive evaluation is to learn more about the participant’s strengths, readiness, and ability to succeed in the workplace. It helps to identify both strengths the family has and challenges they may be facing. When the comprehensive evaluation is used correctly, it helps both the participant and WorkFirst staff  identify what services and activities will help the family move toward stability and economic stability.

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 WorkFirst. The comprehensive evaluation is the first step to achieving this goal. Its primary objectives are:

  • Gather information about a participant's skills and abilities to place them in appropriate activities, using a strength-based, family-driven approach
  • Identify barriers to WorkFirst participation that need further immediate assessment versus obstacles or challenges that can be addressed alongside work-related activities
  • Involve the participant in WorkFirst plan development, in order to better meet their goals
  • Achieve participant engagement in activities that support the family’s success
  • Capture the family’s story in a way which builds rapport and supports ongoing case management

3.2.1.2 How do I complete the comprehensive evaluation?

WorkFirst staff use the Pathway Development Tool (PDT) to complete a participant’s comprehensive evaluation. The Personal Pathway is also available to support this process. Both tools are available in eJAS for WorkFirst staff use. How to use these tools is discussed in WFHB 3.2.2 and 3.2.3.

Before beginning this process, set a positive tone by explaining its purpose. By completing the comprehensive evaluation, WorkFirst staff:  

  • Help the participant succeed in assigned activities and in employment
  • Better understand the family’s circumstances and whether there may be barriers to workplace success
  • Understand what services to offer, so the participant can make progress towards their personal goals
  • Provide support services and resources that help the participant resolve issues without delay

Questions within the PDT touch on sensitive topics (like family planning, substance abuse, or family violence). Acknowledging this can help prepare the participant for the discussion. This includes:

  • When screening for family violence, asking if it’s safe to do so and only screening with one parent at a time (for two-parent households)
  • Identifying areas in which the participant may need accommodations or services to help them be successful in WorkFirst
  • Noting that specific and sensitive details aren’t required. Our goal isn’t to re-traumatize participants. We want to be able to understand how trauma may impact the participant’s experience
  • Responses to these topics may result in an immediate action, including consulting with experts at the request of the participant
  • Responses may also result in immediate referral for situations that require reporting of information, under mandatory reporting (see EA-Z Manual for more information)
  • Responses may result in other referrals once the comprehensive evaluation is completed

3.2.1.3 What topics does the comprehensive evaluation cover?

The comprehensive evaluation covers a number of topics – all help determine what activities best meet the participant’s specific needs and goals. Some of these topics are legally required. However, covering all topics with the participant ensures that CSD is completely evaluating the household’s circumstances and engaging using a whole family approach.

Topics covered in the comprehensive evaluation include:

  • Family
  • Employment & Work Experience
  • Education & Training
  • Financial Literacy
  • Family Violence
  • Substance Use
  • Emotional Health
  • Medical/Health
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Legal Issues
  • Other Agencies

For more information on these topics, please refer to WFHB 3.2.3.2.

NOTE: The entire PDT is considered special records and is highly protected. Partners aren’t able to review the tool. For information on what topics fall under the special records category, please see WFHB 1.6.4. Equal Access and limited English proficiency screening occurs in ACES.
NOTE:  Equal Access and limited English proficiency screening occurs in ACES.

3.2.1.4 Who must receive a comprehensive evaluation and when?

A comprehensive evaluation is completed when a participant is approved or likely to be approved for WorkFirst cash assistance. For two-parent households, separate comprehensive evaluations must be completed, using the Pathway Development Tool. In most circumstances, the comprehensive evaluation should be completed immediately following financial intake.

If the participant didn’t complete the comprehensive evaluation immediately following financial intake:

  • Schedule an appointment using the AP component with an end date to match the scheduled appointment, providing adequate advance notice for the participant to complete this process
  • Send either the ACES General Appointment Letter (50-05) or eJAS Appointment Letter using “WF PDT Appt” canned text in Barcode

Participants in sanction status who desire to reengage in WorkFirst participation must also have their comprehensive evaluation reviewed and updated so it reflects their current circumstances and supports activity engagement.

NOTE: Child-only TANF cases aren’t required to have a comprehensive evaluation.
NOTE: Dependent teens aren’t required to have a comprehensive evaluation. It is recommended that WorkFirst staff document the dependent teen's education activities and other pertinent information in the dependent teen's eJAS Client Notes.

A comprehensive evaluation is considered active for up to 12 months. Sometimes re-evaluations need to occur for a participant. This includes:

Scenario WorkFirst staff
The participant leaves TANF cash assistance and then returns.       Create a new PDT to reflect any changes in the family’s circumstances.
If the participant’s circumstances have changed. Determine if a new PDT is needed to support engagement in new or existing activities.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: The PDT “copy over” function can be used for up to 12 months. For more information on how to use the PDT, see WFHB 3.2.3.

3.2.1.5 What is Continuous Activity Planning (CAP)?

Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) is an informal meeting or joint evaluation with the participant, CSD WorkFirst staff, WorkFirst partner(s), and others to discuss the participant's progress in an activity and recommendations for the next activity.  It can also be a tool for problem-solving when the participant isn’t successfully engaging. This meeting can be conducted via phone or in person. It’s documented using the eJAS case staffing/extension review tool and in client notes under the Continuous Activity Planning note type.

WorkFirst staff must document:

  • The names of all the participants in the meeting
  • How the meeting was conducted (phone or in person)
  • When the meeting took place
  • Results or outcome of the meeting

3.2.1.6 When is a CAP required?

After the initial comprehensive evaluation, there may be times where a new comprehensive evaluation or a CAP is required in order to understand how the participant is progressing in WorkFirst. The decision to complete a comprehensive evaluation or a CAP is based on results from the last finalized comprehensive evaluation, and when that evaluation occurred.

Comprehensive evaluation finalized … Participant is … WorkFirst Staff Next Steps
Within last 6 months.
  • Transitioning to a new activity.
  • Not progressing in an assigned activity.
  • Failing to complete the current activity.
Conduct Continuous Activity Planning meeting.
Over 6 months ago.
  • Progressing in their IRP and moving onto the next step/activity.
  • Not progressing in their IRP or participating.
Conduct Continuous Activity Planning meeting. Review comprehensive evaluation and if needed, create a new PDT to reflect changes in circumstances. 
12 months ago (or longer).
  • Due for the family violence and family planning annual screenings.
Complete annual comprehensive evaluation using PDT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: The PDT “copy over” function can be used for up to 12 months. For more information on how to use the PDT, see WFHB 3.2.3.

3.2.1.7 What is "likely to be approved"?

 "Likely to be approved" means those who appear to meet financial eligibility based on available information and their application is pending for verification of items such as:

  • Personal identification
  • Pregnancy verification
  • Household composition

Applicants whose eligibility is pending for financial-related verification (e.g. income verification, appear eligible and applying for Unemployment Compensation, possible job start) are less likely to be approved. In these circumstances, the comprehensive evaluation can be completed after financial eligibility is verified.

3.2.1.8 What are the engagement pathways following the comprehensive evaluation?

Engagement pathways are WorkFirst activities included in the Individual Responsibility Plan. The criteria below are provided to assist the WorkFirst staff and participant in making an informed decision about which pathway(s) is most appropriate based on information gathered during the comprehensive evaluation. Refer to the Stacking Activities Chart when determining the appropriate mix of activities for the participant.

The Navigation section of the PDT can assist in determining next appropriate steps for the participant – see WFHB 3.2.3 for more information.

Prior to referring participants to a pathway, WorkFirst staff must advise them of WorkFirst program requirements and their responsibility to participate in the activities identified in their Individual Responsibility Plan. WorkFirst staff are to ensure all participants have a plan to address child care and transportation needs prior to referral. Participants reporting to an activity without arranged child care and transportation may be referred back, as they aren’t able to begin participating without these supports in place.

If the comprehensive evaluation doesn’t identify an appropriate pathway based on the following criteria, a CAP may be conducted immediately to develop a plan for engagement.

Career Scope (Job Search)

Referrals to Career Scope may be appropriate for participants who are “work ready.”  This means they meet one or more of the following criteria :

  • Have current employment or employment within the last 90 days
  • Are receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits or have a 'pending' Unemployment Compensation claim (Note: JS should be the requirement for parents in this category)
  • Indicate an interest in pursuing employment
  • Have recently completed an education or supported work program
  • Are participating in another core activity for no more than 20 hours per week and need another activity to meet federal requirements, and can accept employment within four (4) weeks

Additional information to assess work readiness is available in WFHB 4.1.3

Exception: Participants who are working full-time and want assistance finding a better job are appropriate for Career Scope services as long as they can contact Career Scope staff at least once a week to receive assistance. Otherwise, you may refer them to the WorkSource Center as a self-directed job seeker.

Education & Training Activity

Referrals to Education & Training may be appropriate for participants who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have little or no work history
  • Currently attend an educational activity
  • Have had difficulty in school with reading, writing, math, following verbal directions, etc. and want to improve their basic skills in order to get a job or a better job
  • Show an interest in getting a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate
  • Completed high school equivalency, but need or want to brush up on their skills
  • Indicate interest in pursuing post-secondary education or want to enter an occupation that requires training

Community Jobs

Referrals to full-time Community Jobs may be appropriate for participants who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Are currently working on barrier/issue resolution and are ready to combine issue resolution with work in a supportive setting
  • Are ready to learn to self-manage issues that affect the ability to obtain or keep employment
  • Aren’t work ready (see WFHB 4.1)
  • Are ready and able to be employed full-time (32-40 hours per week) within six months of the Community Jobs enrollment
  • Are able to participate full-time (40 hours per week) right now
  • Have child care and transportation plans
  • Have participated in other activities without success
  • Don’t currently hold an unsubsidized job, unless these hours are minimal and career progression is unlikely. These situations are approved on a case-by-case basis by Commerce staff

Referrals to part-time Community Jobs may be appropriate for participants who are single parents with a child under the age of six and also meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Aren’t work ready (see WFHB 4.1)
  • Are open in WorkFirst sanction and are interested in curing the sanction
  • Are ready and able to be employed at least part-time (20 hours per week) within six months of the Community Jobs enrollment
  • Are able to participate 23 hours per week
  • Have child care and transportation plans
  • Are managing known barrier removal issues (such as mental or physical health, chemical dependency and family violence)
  • Don’t currently hold an unsubsidized job
NOTE: Community Jobs referrals should only be made for participants not likely to succeed in attaining unsubsidized employment. Based on comprehensive evaluation results, Community Jobs is an option for those who have participated in other activities and haven’t been successful or where other activities aren’t appropriate. 

Community Works Program

Referrals to Community Works may be appropriate for participants who:

  • Are currently enrolled/interested in an education component
  • Are employed fewer than 32 hours per week
  • Need additional hours to meet WorkFirst participation requirements or are transitioning between activities
  • Need additional support for re-training or additional experience to be competitive in the labor market
  • Able to be in the work activity for one to 12 months for at least five hours per week

Unsubsidized Employment

Participants in this pathway are (full- or part-time):

  • In paid, unsubsidized employment
  • Self-employed
  • Participating in college work study
  • Participating in a paid work experience, practicum or internship

Limited English Proficient (LEP) Pathway

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

  • Have difficulty understanding or communicating in English
  • Have an English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency level and are identified by college staff or an employment counselor as needing specialized assistance to participate
  • Individuals receiving Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) or Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA)

Issue Resolution

Participants may be in this pathway full- or part-time, depending on their ability to participate in work or work-like activities. Whenever appropriate, issue resolution activities should be stacked with one of the employment and training activities associated with pathways listed above.

These activities help participants resolve issues including:

  • Emotional, mental and physical health, and/or learning disabilities
  • Caring for a child with special needs
  • Alcohol or substance abuse/chemical dependency
  • Family violence
  • Homelessness
  • Family planning
  • Parenting struggles or issues
  • Pregnancy-related
  • Child Protective Services engagement

Exempt

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

  • Are a needy caregiver relative and aged 55 or older
  • Have a severe and chronic disability (including those likely to be approved for SSI or other federal benefits)
  • Are required to be in the home to care for a child with special needs
  • Are required to be in the home to care for an adult relative with a disability
  • Are the parent of a child two years or younger (Infant/Toddler Exemption which has a 730 day lifetime limit)
  • Have recently had a child and already exhausted the Infant/Toddler Exemption (the postpartum exemption period)

3rd trimester of pregnancy Deferral

Participants in the third trimester of pregnancy can choose not to participate in WorkFirst activities.

NOTE: Participants eligible for young child or pregnancy related exemptions may still be required to participate if they have mandatory requirements (e.g. identified mental health, chemical dependency, or parenting issues). 
NOTE: ​For local offices engaged in the Home Visiting/Parent Education  Program, if issues related to parenting are identified through the comprehensive evaluation and subsequent assessments, participation in home visiting or parent education activities may be required for the participant (see WFHB 5.1).

3.2.1.9 How are results of the comprehensive evaluation used to develop an Individual Responsibility Plan?

Comprehensive evaluation results and subsequent discussion with the participant regarding pathway options and criteria steer development of the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP). They also aid in identifying what support services the participant needs to effectively engage in activities and services.

The IRP is developed by the WorkFirst staff and participant to describe:

  • The participant's activity requirements and responsibilities
  • Action steps the participant agreed to do
  • DSHS responsibilities and which support services are available to support participation
  • What happens if the participant fails to engage in agreed to activities outlined within their plan without a good reason

IRPs may be developed to support short and long-term goals.  For long term plans, consecutive activities may be included to support participants in long-term goals. They should also include the best mix of activities to support the participant and their family.

Participants are expected to participate full-time, or as close to full-time as they are able based on their situation. All activities within a plan should be geared towards preparing the participant for future employment and economic stability.

3.2.1.10 Can a participant be placed in sanction for not participating in the comprehensive evaluation?

If a participant fails to attend their comprehensive evaluation appointment, staff must go through the good cause process and determine if the participant had a good reason for not coming to the appointment. WorkFirst staff should determine and document whether a participant is refusing to participate, or simply unable to due to circumstances outside of their control.

For information on the good cause and non-compliance sanction process, see WFHB 3.5.1.

3.2.1.11 Comprehensive Evaluation - Step-by-Step Guide

If participant is ready to engage, WorkFirst staff:

  1. Documents whether the participant needs Equal Access accommodations to complete the application process and actively participate (WFHB 1.3).
  2. Conducts the comprehensive evaluation:
    1. Offers and completes the Personal Pathway with the participant (see WFHB 3.2.2).
    2. Uses the Pathway Development Tool to complete the participant’s comprehensive evaluation (see WFHB 3.2.3).  
    3. If the participant can’t complete the comprehensive evaluation immediately following financial intake:
      1. Schedule an appointment using the AP component with an end date to match the scheduled appointment, providing adequate advance notice for the participant to complete this process
      2. Send either the ACES General Appointment Letter (50-05) or eJAS Appointment Letter using “WF PDT Appt” canned text in Barcode
  3. Determines with the participant the appropriate activity pathway using information documented in the Pathway Development Tool (see WFHB 3.2.3). 
    1. If unable to identify an appropriate pathway based on criteria noted in WFHB 3.2.1.9 or 3.2.3, schedule a CAP meeting immediately.
  4. Develops the IRP based on the pathway agreed to by the participant.
    1. Opens appropriate component codes in eJAS (referral, activity, or indicator).
    2. Updates the IRP in eJAS, outlining the required activities and level of participation for the participant.
    3. Issues support services necessary for participant to engage in IRP activities.
  5. Documents comprehensive evaluation results and IRP development discussion in eJAS.
NOTE: If the comprehensive evaluation is scheduled to be completed in the future, discuss and provide child care referral, transportation resources and/or other needed support services in order to support the participant’s future appointment.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Forms & Other Resources

3.2.2 Personal Pathway

Revised on: November 15, 2021

Effective November 15, 2021, the use of the Personal Pathway tool is suspended until further notice. 

 

This WorkFirst Handbook (WFHB) section describes the Personal Pathway and how to use it. It covers:

  • 3.2.2.1 What is the Personal Pathway?
  • 3.2.2.2 How do I complete the Personal Pathway with a participant?
  • 3.2.2.3 How do I use the Personal Pathway when completing a comprehensive evaluation using the PDT?
  • 3.2.2.4 How do I use the Personal Pathway when completing an assessment using the PDT?
  • 3.2.2.5 When else is the Personal Pathway useful as an engagement tool?
  • 3.2.2.6 What if a participant doesn’t want to complete the Personal Pathway?
  • 3.2.2.7 Personal Pathway – Step-by-Step Guide

3.2.2.1 What is the Personal Pathway?

The Personal Pathway is an optional self-assessment for the participant. The questions ask about the participant’s areas of interest, giving them an opportunity to say in their own words what is important to their family. It supports developing rapport and a a positive relationship between the participant and WorkFirst staff.

It’s trauma-informed by offering choices and options in a transparent way. It allows participants to take a few moments to reset, think, and focus on what they want and need to plan their next steps toward their goals. This is a positive and empowering way to support executive functioning (thinking) skills.

The Personal Pathway is available as a stand-alone form (DSHS 11-154). It’s also in eJAS, allowing staff to document the participant’s responses. When entered into eJAS, the participant’s responses are summarized in the Pathway Development Tool (PDT). This information can be used in the comprehensive evaluation, social service assessment, and IRP development.

3.2.2.2 How do I complete the Personal Pathway with a participant?

Staff may provide a copy of the Personal Pathway form (DSHS 11-154) to the participant by:

  • Handing the form to the participant, 
  • Guiding them through how to access it online at WashingtonConnection.org [see How do I … Find frequently used DSHS forms], or,
  • Directly through the DSHS Forms Library.

If the participant completes the form and agrees to share, staff enter the participant’s responses into eJAS.

NOTE: The first question in the Personal Pathway (DSHS 11-154) is not in eJAS. This introductory question is intended to support a conversation between the participant and WorkFirst staff. The response to it is not required to be recorded in eJAS.

3.2.2.3 How do I use the Personal Pathway when completing a comprehensive evaluation using the PDT?

The information gathered from the Personal Pathway can guide topics to start with during the comprehensive evaluation discussion and subsequent assessments. The eJAS version of the Personal Pathway generates a summary of a participant’s responses (Personal Pathway Details table) in the PDT. The responses are sorted into four categories – Values, Goals, Strength and Obstacles.

WorkFirst staff can use the Personal Pathway Details table to guide where to start in the PDT discussion.

Example: In the example Personal Pathway Details table above under Goals, the participant indicated – Find a job that provides for my family. WorkFirst staff use this as a jumping off point to discuss the topic of Employment & Work Experience in the PDT.
Example: In the example Personal Pathway Details table above under Values, the participant indicated – Be more financially stable. WorkFirst staff use this as a conversation starter to discuss the topic of Financial Literacy in the PDT.

3.2.2.4 How do I use the Personal Pathway when completing an assessment using the PDT?

WorkFirst staff may use the information gathered from the Personal Pathway to build rapport with the participant. Information in the Personal Pathway Details table can be a springboard into deeper discussions around the participant’s current situation. 

Example: A WFSSS needs to engage a participant in a health & incapacity assessment. There is a recent Personal Pathway in eJAS, so the WFSSS reviews the participant’s Personal Pathway Details table in the PDT. Taking care of my health is a value indicated by the participant. The WFSSS uses this as a conversation starter to begin the assessment.

3.2.2.5 When else is the Personal Pathway useful as an engagement tool?

Staff are encouraged to offer the Personal Pathway to participants at any time as an engagement tool (conversation starter). This includes but is not limited to Continuous Activity Plan (CAP) meetings, NCS Case Staffings, Time Limit Extension (TLE) appointments.

Example: A participant comes in for an NCS Case Staffing. At the beginning of the discussion, the participant completes the Personal Pathway. WorkFirst staff review the Personal Pathway and notice Lack of stable housing is a problem the participant is facing. WorkFirst staff use that response to begin the NCS Case Staffing discussion – exploring whether the participant may have good cause based on their current housing challenges.

The Personal Pathway may be useful in many participant contacts, not just for completing the PDT. Staff must enter the Personal Pathway responses into eJAS to reflect the most current self-assessment. The Personal Pathway and PDT are independent tools that can be completed together or separately, depending on the situation.

3.2.2.6 What if a participant doesn’t want to complete the Personal Pathway?

The Personal Pathway is an optional self-assessment tool for the participant to complete. It isn’t a required action for the participant. However, WorkFirst staff are required to offer the Personal Pathway to the participant.

If a participant chooses not to complete the Personal Pathway as part of the comprehensive evaluation or assessment process, WorkFirst staff skip the Personal Pathway piece of the process in eJAS, and proceed with the PDT. In these situations, WorkFirst staff must document in eJAS client notes that the Personal Pathway was offered and the participant declined completing it.

NOTE: The Personal Pathway is voluntary for participants. Staff should offer it again at future interactions, but can’t sanction participants if they choose not to complete the Personal Pathway.   

3.2.2.7 Personal Pathway – Step-by-Step Guide

When completing a comprehensive evaluation, WorkFirst staff offer the participant the option of completing the Personal Pathway (DSHS 11-154):

  1. If the participant completes the Personal Pathway, staff:
    1. Enter the participant’s responses to the Personal Pathway into eJAS
    2. Consider the participant’s responses to guide completion of the PDT
  2. If the participant chooses not to complete the Personal Pathway, staff :
    1. Continue with the PDT
    2. Document in eJAS client notes how the Personal Pathway was offered and that the participant declined completing it

When completing an assessment, the WFSSS reviews eJAS for a current Personal Pathway:

  1. If there is a current Personal Pathway, use it to guide the assessment.  
  2. If there isn’t a Personal Pathway, or it isn’t recent, offer the participant the option of completing the Personal Pathway (DSHS 11-154).
    1. If the participant fills out the Personal Pathway, the WFSSS:
      1. Enters the participant’s responses to the Personal Pathway into eJAS
      2. Considers the participant’s responses to guide completion of the assessment PDT
    2. If the participant doesn’t choose to fill out the Personal Pathway, the WFSSS:
      1. Continues with the assessment PDT
      2. Documents in eJAS client notes how the Personal Pathway was offered and that the participant declined completing it

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.2.3 Pathway Development Tool

Revised on: November 15, 2021

Effective November 15, 2021, the use of the Personal Pathway tool is suspended until further notice. 

 

Legal References:

This WorkFirst Handbook (WFHB) section describes how to use the Pathway Development Tool.  It covers:

  • 3.2.3.1 What is the Pathway Development Tool (PDT)?
  • 3.2.3.2 What is the PDT structure and what topics does it cover?  
  • 3.2.3.3 How do I use the PDT to complete a comprehensive evaluation?
  • 3.2.3.4 How do I use the PDT to complete a social service assessment?  
  • 3.2.3.5 How do I use the PDT Navigation section when developing an IRP?  
  • 3.2.3.6 How do I use the PDT to complete annual updates? 
  • 3.2.3.7 How do I use the PDT for sanction reengagement, or for families who leave and return to TANF? 
  • 3.2.3.8 What are the referral and mandatory reporting requirements for pregnant dependent minors? 
  • 3.2.3.9 Pathway Development Tool - Step-by Step Guide 

3.2.3.1 What is the Pathway Development Tool (PDT)?

The Pathway Development Tool (PDT) is an eJAS tool used to conduct WorkFirst comprehensive evaluations and social service assessments. The PDT provides a snapshot in time of what’s going on with a participant, their family, and their individual circumstances. It’s used to gather information on what activities will be most helpful to the participant and aids in developing their Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP).

3.2.3.2 What is the PDT structure and what topics does it cover?

The PDT is divided into various sections and topics to support a conversation between staff and participants to determine the best engagement pathway. It’s designed to allow WorkFirst staff the flexibility to select a starting topic when engaging the participant in discussion, and for the conversation to flow based on family needs and goals. The PDT includes the following sections:

Tracking Information

The first section allows staff to track specific information, including:

  • Program
  • Status of the tool (complete or pending)
  • Pending reason (when applicable)
  • Equal Access (EA) discussed/addressed
  • Details of the EA Plan (when applicable)
  • Social Service Assessment Type – this field is only for use by WFSSS when conducting an assessment using the PDT (see WFHB 3.2.3.4)
Note: Staff can’t proceed with saving a PDT until the EA Plan fields are completed. If the participant doesn’t need an EA Plan, staff must check the Equal Access has been addressed box, and note “N/A” in the Describe Equal Access Plan field. 

Personal Pathway Details

This section summarizes participant responses captured in the Personal Pathway, for participants who choose to complete one. This information, when available, is used by WorkFirst staff to determine which topic to begin with in the PDT. For more information on how to use this information while completing a PDT, please see WFHB 3.2.2.3 and 3.2.2.4

Topics

This section includes topic categories for staff to discuss with the participant. Each topic subsection includes the following:

  • Example script with suggested questions to guide staff in having a conversation with the participant on a topic. The script is a starting point for the conversation. Staff may ask all or some of the questions, or use other appropriate questions of their own to engage with the participant. The questions are open-ended, where the participant has the opportunity to do most of the talking. They focus on strength and supports.
  • Freeform text fields that WorkFirst staff use to document the discussion with the participant on a topic. This format supports open-ended conversation, with the participant guiding the conversation.
  • For most topics, there are suggestions listed for the type of information to document in the free from text field.
  • A list of indicators, strengths, needs/interests, and referrals (below the free form text box). WorkFirst staff select all options that apply to the participant, based on the conversation. Staff discuss the items selected and engage in a conversation around service, supports, referrals, and goals.
See the example below (from the PDT Transportation topic section):
 

Below are all topics included within the PDT:

TOPIC DESCRIPTION & ITEMS OF NOTE
Family

Explores the family’s current situation and what services or supports are needed, and/or what exemptions or deferrals may be appropriate.

Includes the following subsections:

  • Family – Includes a link for creating the mandatory Family Planning Screening (see WFHB 1.3).
  • Pregnancy – Includes a field for pregnancy due date, pre-filled when applicable (from ACES). 
  • Separate subsections based on age of child(ren) in the home:
    • Child 0-12 Months
    • Child 13-24 Months
    • Child 2-5 Years
    • Child 6-12 Years
    • Child 13+ Years

For the subsections based on child(ren) age – staff only complete subsections relevant to the family.

Example: A participant has two children (ages 6 months and 5 years old). The worker reviews the general 'Family,’ ‘Child 0-12 months,’ and ‘Child 2-5 Years’ subsections to complete the 'Family' topic section.
Example: A participant is pregnant and has two children (ages 2 and 5 years old). The worker reviews the general ‘Family,’ ‘Pregnancy,’ and ‘Child 2-5 Years’ subsections to complete this ‘Family’ topic section. The conversation on both children is documented in the ‘Child 2-5 Years’ subsection. 
Employment & Work Experience Current employment circumstances and work history/experience.
Education & Training Education and training experience, along with related goals and interest in pursuing this as an engagement activity. It includes a field to capture the participant’s highest grade level completed.
Financial Literacy

Financial literacy services and supports can provide families with the tools for a smoother transition from a benefit-based income to a wage-based income, and keep them from unknowingly entering into financially devastating credit arrangements. It is an essential element to a family achieving financial stability, self-sufficiency, and economic mobility.

NOTE: WorkFirst staff ask the participant if they would like a referral to money management training available in their local community. This is considered a life skill and is not a mandatory activity. Staff can find a list of resources that provide financial literacy programs at the Washington Department of Financial Institutions - Statewide Financial Education Class Calendar and the Washington Asset Building Coalition website.
Family Violence Includes mandatory script and questions to support screening participants for family violence. See WFHB 6.5 for support in conducting these screenings with families.
Substance Use Explores whether a referral to social services for a chemical dependency assessment and support is needed. See WFHB 3.2.1.8 and Chapter 6 for additional information.
Emotional Health Explores whether a referral to social services to assess and support the participant's emotional health and mental well-being is needed. See WFHB 3.2.1.8 and Chapter 6 for additional information.
Medical/Health Explores whether a referral to social services to assess and support the family’s health circumstances, or if deferral/exemption is appropriate. See WFHB 3.2.1.8 and Chapter 6 for additional information. 
NOTE: When a participant voluntarily provides information about HIV/AIDS/STD issues that could interfere with WorkFirst activities, use this section to document that information. The HIV/AIDS/STD note type is also available (see WFHB 1.6.4).
Housing Opens up a discussion on the family's housing situation. Supports determining how their housing situation may impact the participant's engagement in activities
Transportation Examines what the participant’s current means of getting around is. Opens up a conversation on what type of transportation support services are needed for activity engagement.
Legal Issues Explores any legal issues the participant is facing that could affect activity engagement and/or employment opportunities.
Other Agencies Allows staff to discuss and document agencies or programs the participant is already engaged with.

 

Navigation

This section, nested in the Topics list, supports WorkFirst staff in having a discussion with the participant on engagement pathway options. It includes:

  • Checkboxes to indicate which activities the participant is referred to, based on the conversation.
  • A free-form text box to capture additional notes or discussion items.
  • A summary of all indicators, strengths, needs/interests, and referrals selected from each topic section. This information is displayed to support engagement pathway discussion, and to remind staff of what referrals need to be offered/made.

3.2.3.3 How do I use the PDT to complete a comprehensive evaluation?

The goal is for WorkFirst staff to do thorough comprehensive evaluations at the initial intake for participants approved or likely to be approved for TANF (see WFHB 3.2.1.8). This allows WorkFirst staff to engage participants in services that make sense based on the family’s circumstances, strengths, desires, and goals.

WorkFirst staff use any information gathered from the Personal Pathway to guide which topics to start with during the comprehensive evaluation. Information collected during the financial intake is also used as launching points during the PDT discussion - supporting a fluid and meaningful conversation with the participant, and avoid them needing to re-tell their story.

Example:  During financial intake, an applicant mentions they didn’t graduate from high school. The WFPS begins the conversation on the PDT 'Education & Training' topic by referring back to their discussion during the financial intake. They ask the participant to provide information around their experience in school.

There are many topics that are legally required to be covered during the comprehensive evaluation. Required topics are bolded in the Topics table in WFHB 3.2.3.2. They're marked with an asterisk [*] within eJAS. It should be the goal of staff to touch upon all topics included in the PDT, leveraging a participant’s Personal Pathway Details to drive the conversation.

After each Topic section is reviewed, information documented, and indicators, strengths, needs/interests and referrals selections made, WorkFirst staff must save the section before moving to the next topic. Once all topics are reviewed with the participant, WorkFirst Staff must complete the Navigation section by:

  • Reviewing the participant’s indicators, strengths, needs/interests, and referrals.
  • Discussing engagement pathway options and indicating which WorkFirst activity the participant would like to engage in.
  • Documenting the discussion in the free from text field.

Once the Navigation section is complete, WorkFirst staff finalize a PDT by marking Tool Verified as Complete and selecting save. See WFHB 3.2.3.8 for additional support in using the PDT Navigation section.

NOTE: A PDT cannot be finalized until all legally required, mandatory topics are reviewed. A mandatory topic is not considered complete until free form text and at least one of the indicators, strengths, needs/interests, and referrals is checked. 

Social Service Referral Option:

For participants who require a Pregnancy to Employment assessment or have an urgent/emergent issue, an immediate referral to social services is available. The WFPS may start the PDT prior to transitioning the participant to a WFSSS. WFSSS discuss and complete the PDT as part of completing their assessment.

If during the conversation with the participant, it’s clear an urgent or emergent issue exists, WorkFirst staff use the Customer-Driven Severity Scale to determine if an immediate offer of referral to social service staff is needed. This tool supports discussion by allowing the participant to make the decision on whether their issue is urgent or emergent. No medical verification is required to make an initial referral for assessment.

If the during the comprehensive evaluation, the participant indicates possible issues (e.g. chemical dependency or mental health) that may affect their ability to fully engage in employment and training activities, referral to social services may still be necessary (Issue Resolution pathway). For these referrals, medical verification is requested and obtained from the participant prior to the WFSSS engaging with the participant and/or determining who should carry the case.

While it isn’t mandatory to refer for a chemical dependency or mental health assessment if the participant is in treatment, staff should consider and offer a social service referral. This allows the participant to explore the situation with a WFSSS and receive additional information to develop a more effective IRP.

3.2.3.4 How do I use the PDT to complete a social service assessment?

The PDT also supports WFSSS in completing social service assessments. Three key PDT features support seamless assessments:

  • Social Service Assessment TypeAllows WFSSS to indicate which type of assessment they are doing. It is only for use by WFSSS.
  • Ability to pend the PDT for WFSSS use – Allows WFPS to ‘pend’ the PDT if assessment is needed. This allows the PDT a WFPS starts to be continued, built upon, and finalized by the WFSSS.
  • Ability to copy over a finalized PDT – If a participant's PDT is already finalized, the WFSSS can use the ‘copy over’ feature to do their assessment.
NOTE: When a participant is referred to a WFSSS with a pended PDT, the WFSSS is required to complete any remaining elements of that PDT with the participant while conducting the assessment and finalize the tool by reviewing the Navigation section with the participant.

For additional information and support in conducting social service assessments, see WFHB 5.1 & Chapter 6

3.2.3.5 How do I use the PDT Navigation section when developing an IRP?

The PDT Navigation section supports staff in discussing with the participant engagement pathway options and developing the IRP. WorkFirst staff review the summary of indicators, strengths, needs/interests, and referrals and work with the participant to determine what activities to engage in. Refer to WFHB 3.2.1.10 for guidance on engagement pathways, and WFHB 3.3.1 for guidance on IRP development.

Once an engagement pathway has been agreed to, WorkFirst staff indicate what activities the participant is engaging in by checking boxes under the WorkFirst Activities referred to area of the Navigation section, and documenting the discussion in the free form text field.

3.2.3.6 How do I use the PDT to complete annual updates?

WorkFirst Staff must do an annual update of a participant’s comprehensive evaluation and social service assessment. eJAS notifies staff when mandatory screenings are required (annual family violence and family planning screenings). If it has been over a year since a PDT was completed at the time of these annual screenings, staff complete a new PDT with the participant. The family planning and family violence screenings are accessible through the Family and Family Violence topic sections of the PDT.

NOTE: The PDT copy over feature is only available for up to 12 months.When using the copy over feature, WorkFirst Staff need to select this option when they first enter the PDT (before hitting save).   eJAS recognizes once the family violence and family planning screenings have been completed and no longer displays a notification on the Client Main Page.

3.2.3.7 How do I use the PDT for sanction reengagement, or for families who leave and return to TANF?

For participants who are in non-compliance sanction and wish to reengage in the program, or who left TANF and then return to the program, staff are required to complete a new comprehensive evaluation with the participant, using the PDT. This includes households that were terminated from TANF due to non-compliance sanction (see WFHB 3.5.3).

For participants who had a PDT done within the last 12-months, the PDT copy over feature can be used so staff can build off the last conversation with the participant. Staff who use this function must review/update all topic sections with the participant and complete the Navigation section based on the conversation. If a PDT on file is older than 12-months, or there isn’t one on file, WorkFirst staff must complete a new PDT with the participant. 

NOTE: The PDT copy over feature is only available for up to 12 months.

3.2.3.8 What are the referral and mandatory reporting requirements for pregnant dependent minors?

WorkFirst staff offer a referral to First Steps for pregnant dependent minors (see WFHB 5.1.17).

NOTE: First Steps helps low-income pregnant individuals get the health and social services they may need and covers a variety of services for pregnant individuals and their infants.

CSD staff must follow the policy for mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse, neglect or child rape in the EA-Z Manual, Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting when a participant reports a pregnant minor dependent child. Under the mandatory reporting policy:

  • Staff should only report child rape to law enforcement if the age of the father is known.  Staff aren’t required to ask the age of the father. 
  • If the participant volunteers information, and we become aware it meets the criteria of child rape, a law enforcement referral is required. 
  • Once the child is born, more information about the age and identity of the father may become available as part of the child support enforcement process.

3.2.3.9 Pathway Development Tool - Step-by Step Guide

Using the PDT to complete a comprehensive evaluation at financial intake, WorkFirst staff:

  1. Complete appropriate Tracking Information at the beginning of the PDT.
  2. Review the PDT Personal Pathway Details summary with the participant, if applicable, and use that information to guide which topic to begin with in the PDT Topics section.  
  3. Review PDT Topics with the participant.
  4. Complete the PDT Navigation section, determining engagement pathway and appropriate IRP activities with the participant. Leverage Personal Pathway Details summary, if applicable, to support this discussion.
  5. Document comprehensive evaluation discussion in eJAS.

The WFPS may not be able to complete the comprehensive evaluation at the intake appointment if:

  • A Pregnancy to Employment assessment is needed. In these circumstances, offer an immediate referral to social services.  
  • The participant is experiencing an urgent or emergent issue. In these circumstances, discuss the severity of the situation with the participant. Offer an immediate referral to social services for support, based on the discussion and interest of the participant.

If the participant can’t complete the comprehensive evaluation immediately following financial intake:

  • Schedule an appointment using the AP component with an end date to match the scheduled appointment, providing adequate advance notice for the participant to complete this process
  • Send either the ACES General Appointment Letter (50-05) or eJAS Appointment Letter using “WF PDT Appt” canned text in Barcode

Using the PDT to complete a social service assessment, WFSSS:

  1. Complete the appropriate Tracking Information at the beginning of the PDT (Social Service Assessment Type).
  2. Review existing PDT content with the participant, including any Personal Pathway Details, if applicable.   
  3. Review PDT Topics with the participant that are pertinent to the assessment.
  4. Complete any additional PDT Topics the WFPS was not able to cover with the participant.
  5. Complete the PDT Navigation section, determining engagement pathway and appropriate IRP activities with the participant.
  6. Document the social service assessment in eJAS.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.3.1 Individual Responsibility Plan and Stacking Activities

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The 3.3 IRP and Stacking Strategy section has two separate sub-sections:

3.3.1.1 What is an IRP?

An Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) is a working document that clearly defines the specific activities, timeframes and expectations for each WorkFirst participating family member. The IRP may also indicate what support services WorkFirst can provide to help the person to participate. The IRP is developed by the participant with their WFSSS/WFPS to:

  • Describe the participant's responsibilities, activity requirements and authorized support services.
  • Keep them moving toward independence.
  • Document the action steps the participant has agreed to do. This is essential to holding the participant responsible for their participation.
  • Direct the participant to find and accept employment
  • Describe DSHS responsibilities to document which support services will be provided.
  • Describes what happens if the participant doesn't follow through with program requirements.

3.3.1.2 When is an IRP done?

Create or update an participant's IRP when the participant:

  • Has been determined eligible for WorkFirst and has completed a comprehensive evaluation (using the Pathway Development Tool), and needs to be assigned an engagement pathway/services.
  • Has an eligibility evaluation and, there are any changes to the family's situation.
  • Must apply for Washington Apple Health through the Health Benefit Exchange to access needed health care coverage (such as chemical dependency treatment). (See WAH Application IRP for suggested IRP language)
  • Has a change that affects her or his existing IRP (like homelessness or family violence issues).
  • Has new activities such as training or services approved.
  • Gets a job. This may include other services such as retention services or needed support services.
  • Is within two weeks of completing a component (to keep them continually participating).
  • Has updated a comprehensive evaluation, screening, or assessment which provides recommendations for a new pathway or service.
  • Has disclosed, or there is an indication, that they are involved with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and are required to do activities like counseling or treatment.

In two parent families, both parents must have an IRP (unless one qualifies for, and chooses to take an exemption). Once a participant goes off WorkFirst, an IRP is no longer required to access services or support services.

NOTE: participants who don't have  Washington Apple Health due to citizenship verification requirements and who have an activity requirement that is dependent on  Washington Apple Health coverage aren't required to participate in these activities until  Washington Apple Health eligibility is established. Until  Washington Apple Health coverage is established, these participants will be coded with the component code 'CV'. This is an indicator code only and has no IRP or monitoring requirements.

For more information, please refer to WFHB 6.3.5 - How do we treat participants with medical issues who do not have Washington Apple Health.

3.3.1.3 How to write an IRP?

We build an IRP by talking to the participant about their family’s circumstances. We  use the Pathway Development Tool to support this discussion, whether completed as part of the comprehensive evaluation or social service assessment process. The engagement pathways noted in WFHB 3.2.1.8 and the stacking activities strategy in WFHB 3.3.1 can help with determining what activities may be best for the participant, while maximizing countable participation. 

Conversations with the participant are very important, as they help build IRPs that are relevant to their family’s situation. The IRP spells out what needs to be done to get the person employed as quickly as possible, and then break those tasks into action steps.

When appropriate, the WFPS/WFSSS can create or update the IRP while the participant is meeting with a WorkFirst partner.  The WorkFirst partner can then print the IRP for the participant’s record and signature. If there are confidential items in the IRP, the partner can only print the non-confidential portion of the IRP. The WFPS/WFSSS must mail the full IRP to the client.

Some families may also be involved with Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) and required to do activities like counseling or treatment to help keep their families together. It is critical to take these activities into consideration when developing the participant's IRP.

As shown in the chart below, there are key techniques to create an effective IRP.

How to build an IRP:

Involve the participant

Give a clear picture of the goal of financial independence for the family and WorkFirst program will do to support this goal. Talk about what the individual plans to do after employment to get a better job and move up the wage ladder. Are the plans achievable? If so, how?

Focus on the goal

The goal, for most families, is independence from WorkFirst. Getting a job or increasing employment or wages is the path. When setting the participant's goal, also take into consideration:

  • What was discovered during the comprehensive evaluation and, where necessary, subsequent assessment?
  • Are there short-term issues to be resolved for faster progress (like homelessness)?
  • What supports or other income will be available while seeking work or once working

Discuss the options

Use all the available information and the stacking strategy to develop the IRP and create a step-by-step plan. As you do this:

  • Take the family’s circumstances and participant’s interests into consideration.
  • Frame work as a goal of participation.
  • Use the IRP to document support services.
  • Build participation expectations using the hours of activities that add up to full-time participation (32-40 hours), when appropriate.

Write the IRP

Write the IRP in the first person (like "I will report to my Community Jobs assignment.")

The templates for each activity are to be included in the IRP so the participant knows the specific details about their activities.

Use action steps

Use the IRP to give the participant a step-by-step explanation of what is expected of them and what supports are available. Include:

  • Whom to contact,
  • When to report to an activity, and
  • What their responsibilities are.

3.3.1.4 How to monitor IRPs

WFPS/WFSSS monitors IRPs closely to make sure that everyone is engaged in activities and making progress. Service providers are required to verify participation and progress on a monthly basis to the WFPS/WFSSS.

In addition, non-participation must be reported immediately. ESD uses eJAS to send an electronic message to the WFPS/WFSSS when the participant fails to attend as directed. ESD staff sometimes refers the participant back to the WFPS as part of their "Continuous Activity Planning" process and document in eJAS notes if the participant is failing to participate as directed. The WFPS/WFSSS must immediately begin the sanction process by sending the ACES letter 0085-01 for non-participation.

The WFPS/WFSSS includes all activities that meet the participation requirements in the IRP and track participation, even those that aren't approved by the program. For example, a participant may work 20 hours a week and go to school 20 hours and meet the participation requirements even if the training cannot be approved or supported with support services or child care. This participation must be tracked to ensure progress is being made and that the person is attending.

There are two types of participation verification:

  1. Automated monthly verification by provider through eJAS, where available.
  2. Written monthly verification signed by the provider where eJAS isn't available, using a standard form with a release of information. The participant submits the form to the WFPS/WFSSS.

3.3.1.5 Does sanction status require a special IRP?

An participant in sanction status does not require a special "sanction IRP" just because they have entered sanction. Everyone is required to have a current IRP based upon their assigned activities. If a participant enters sanction status, the IRP should reflect the activities they failed to do, without good cause.

When the participant agrees to cure a sanction, the IRP must be updated to include current dates and any new activities or components need to be changed to meet the participant's new circumstances.

3.3.1.6 How IRP helps with coordination?

The IRP is a valuable tool for the participant, the WFPS/WFSSS, and others working with the person. It ensures that everyone is clear about the participant's responsibilities, requirements, and supports.

  • The IRP is available in eJAS and can be read and reviewed by ESD staff and others who work with the person and have eJAS access.
  • Both the WFPS/WFSSS and the participant sign the IRP and a copy is provided so the person knows what action steps to follow.

3.3.1.7 Stacked Services

Stacking services requires the participant to engage in more than one activity at a time - perhaps working with different providers to access services. We "stack" (or combine) activities to make sure the person moves from welfare to self-sustaining work as soon as possible. It also helps an participant to build new strengths while resolving issues in her or his life.

Activities are combined to add up to full-time participation (32-40 hours). See WFHB 1.2.3 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s IRP when possible. 

eJAS provides language (templates) that can be put on the IRP for most activities and service providers, with the number of hours the participant will participate. In the few cases that eJAS does not provide the template language to be used, the WFPS/WFSSS includes the following information on the IRP:

  • The start and end dates of the activities
  • The date and time the participant must report to the service provider
  • The specific participation requirements, including the number of days per week the person must attend and hours of participation
  • The number to call if they can't attend as required
  • What support services and the child care the program can provide

3.3.1.8 Special Records

To be effective, the participant's IRP must spell out, in detail, what the person will do to become self-sufficient. All personal information is confidential under state and federal law. In eJAS, there are also four categories of participant information, called 'Special Records', with increased protection. Only DSHS staff are able to view the notes written in these categories (see WFHB 1.6.4).

When developing an IRP that includes information on a Special Records topic, It is important to:

  • Develop/create the IRP under "Special Record" section,
  • Document actions in the matching note type, and
  • Discuss with participant how sharing the information with other partners or contractors may provide better services. If the participant agrees to share the information then you must get a signed consent form (DSHS 14-012) to share this information or invite the person to discuss the matter(s) directly with the service provider they are going to be working with.

3.3.1.9 eJAS coding

When creating an IRP, do the following in eJAS:

  • Enter activity component code on the eJAS component/IRP screen.
  • Enter the participation requirements using the templates for the activities and for each of the contractor codes.

3.3.1.10 IRP - Step-by-step guide

To develop an IRP, the WFSSS/WFPS:

  1. Develops the IRP based on the conversation with the participant, the stacking strategy, recommendations from the comprehensive evaluation, the information in eJAS, and observations. 
    1. Includes employment, other income, and issue resolution goals.
    2. Discusses options with the participant.
    3. Writes a sequential, step-by-step plan for achieving the participant's goals, including:
      1. Where to go, when, and who to see,
      2. Start and end date for each activity and a description of what the participant will be doing, and
      3. Any actions needed to prepare for the activity (like making child care or transportation arrangements).
  2. Documents support services made available the participant (like child care, or transportation).
  3. Has the participant sign the IRP, and provides a copy.
    1. If the IRP is done over the phone, mails a copy to the participant.
    2. If the IRP is done over the phone while the participant is meeting in person with a WorkFirst partner, the partner may print the IRP, obtain the participant’s signature and provide a copy to the participant. The signed original IRP would remain in the partner’s participant file.
  4. Documents that the IRP has been done, that you explained the requirements of the IRP to the participant, any referrals made, and enter the activities in eJAS. Document that the IRP was mailed if you mail the IRP to the participant. See WFHB 1.6.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.3.2 Stacking Activities

Created on: 
Mar 02 2017

Revised on September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The 3.3 IRP and Stacking Activities section has two separate sub-sections:

  • Section 3.3.1 Individual Responsibility Plan.
  • Section 3.3.2 Stacking Activities. This section describes the stacking process including:
    • 3.3.2.1 What is stacking activities?
    • 3.3.2.2 What are countable core and non-core activities?
    • 3.3.2.3 How do I maximize the comprehensive evaluation or assessment recommendations to meet WorkFirst participation goals?
    • 3.3.2.4 How do I build an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) that meets the Work Participation Rate (WPR)?
    • 3.3.2.5 How do I deem?
    • 3.3.2.6 When do I use the local minimum wage and how do I process these cases?
    • 3.3.2.7 How to Deem Step-by-Step Guide

3.3.2.1 What are stacking activities?

Federal rules reduce funding to states that fail to meet a federal work participation rate. To meet the rates, states must have a percentage of participants in the required number of hours of countable activities each month.

Section 1.2.1 What is participation and how is it counted describes the participation requirements for participants and teens who are able to participate. Stacking goes beyond the basic participation requirements and gives guidance about how we might best meet the needs of participants, achieve the most important WorkFirst goals, and maximize our ability to meet the federal rate.

3.3.2.2 What are Countable Core and Non-Core Activities?

All WorkFirst activities were designed for a purpose - but not all of them count towards meeting the federal Work Participation Rate (WPR). WorkFirst activities fall into one of five broad categories:

  • Fully countable core activities (paid and unpaid work)
  • Time-limited countable core activities (job search, independent life skills training, issue resolution and vocational education) which only count for a limited period of time
  • Countable Non-core activities (skills enhancement training, high school completion or high school equivalency for participants age 20 or older), which count once a participant has met her or his core activity requirements
  • Exemptions and exceptions, which may count or qualify for federal participation exemptions
  • Stabilization services, uncountable ‘X’ codes that don’t count towards the rate but are needed temporarily to resolve a barrier

The Core & Non-Core Activity chart lists countable core and non-core activities.

The Stacking Activities Chart sorts WorkFirst activities by how they count towards meeting the rate, listing all exemptions, exceptions, stabilization (uncountable), and core activities. The chart gives an overall strategy for core and non-core activities you may stack to help move the participant towards employment.

3.3.2.3 How do I maximize comprehensive evaluation or assessment recommendations to meet WorkFirst and participation goals?

The comprehensive evaluation or assessment recommendations are designed to meet participant needs while maximizing our ability to meet federal participation requirements and should:

  • Address the participant’s primary need and build from that
  • Start with employment, job search, or unpaid work (like Community Works) as the participant's primary activity whenever possible
  • Make strategic use of time-limited core activities, while headquarters staff maximizes the work participation count:
    • Do issue resolution and job search when needed
    • Add activities to issue resolution to make it short-term and full-time when possible
    • Enroll participants in job search 4 weeks at a time with work experience activities interspersed between enrollments
    • Start vocational education once the participant is ready and help them progress to full-time
  • Stabilize the participant's situation as soon as possible if they are unable to participate in countable activities
  • Offer participation exceptions (that is, pregnancy to employment and high school completion or high school equivalency for minors/dependent teens)
  • Plan ahead and use continuous activity planning (see WFHB 3.2.1.5) to keep participants in countable activities and moving towards employment goals whenever possible. You can do this by:
    • Speeding up handoffs and start-ups
    • Resolving sanction and re-engaging participants who have failed to participate
    • Making current activities support the participant's next steps

3.3.2.4 How do I build an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) that meets the Work Participation Rate (WPR)?

We build an IRP based on the primary activity the participant needs to progress. Some participants are exempt and others required to access stabilization services (uncountable "X" codes).

Note:  Please refer to WFHB 6.3.5- How do we treat participants with medical issues who don’t have Washington Apple Health? for participants who don't have Washington Apple Health (WAH) due to citizenship verification requirements AND have an activity requirement that is dependent on WAH coverage.

You can require a participant to apply for WAH in their IRP, and sanction for failure to follow through, if they are potentially eligible but have never applied or let their coverage lapse.  For example, use an IRP to require WAH application for a participant who needs chemical dependency treatment but has no current WAH coverage (See WAH Application IRP for suggested IRP language.).

A few participants, minors and teens meet the rate while participating fewer hours under federal participation exceptions. Participation requirements are:

  • Up to 20 hours per week of core, non-core, or uncountable activities for participants (20 and older) with reduced participation requirements under the pregnancy to employment pathway or who have a child under six years old
  • Up to 20 hours per week of high school completion or high school equivalency for teen participants age 18 and 19 if they don’t already have their high school diploma or high school equivalent (Hours are based on school requirements to progress towards graduation)
  • Participation in high school completion or high school equivalency as per school requirements to progress towards graduation for pregnant and parenting minors age 17 and younger, unless they have a child under the age of 12 weeks old (Hours are based on school requirements to progress towards graduation)

Most participants are able to participate and don't qualify for federal participation exemptions. You can stack activities to build an IRP that meets the rate as follows:

  1. Start with 20 hours per week of core activities, and see WFHB 1.2.2 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s IRP when possible:
    1. The participant can do more than one type of core activity to reach 20 hours per week.  Just add a few hours of a "good match" core activity to the participant's primary core activity to meet the 20-hour requirement
    2. Working the FLSA maximum hours of WEX or community service meets the full core activity requirement. [See 3.3.2.5. How to Deem below]
  2. Add 12-20 hours per week of countable activities:
    1. More hours of the core activity
    2. Add a "good match" core activity
    3. Non-core activities (job skills training, basic education, high school completion or high school equivalency)
  3. Using this formula, the participant ends up with 32-40 hours total hours of participation each week
Example: Jacques and Sarah are married with two children and on WorkFirst. Jacques is working 25 hours per week and Sarah has been staying at home with the children. Both Sarah and Jacques want to participate in WorkFirst activities. Their WorkFirst Program Specialist looks at their indicators, strengths, needs/interests, and referrals captured in the PDT for the comprehensive evaluation, talks to them, and develops an IRP that meets the two-parent participation requirement of 38 hours per week including three hours of strengthened participation (see WFHB 1.2.2). Jacques' employment meets 25 hours of the household’s 30-hour core activity requirement. Based on a review of Jacques’ PDT, he selects and agrees to the option of attending job skills training classes for 6 hours per week. Based on a review of Sarah’s PDT, she agrees to go to job search for 32 hours per week. The household exceeds their 38 hour per week participation requirements by doing 57 hours per week of core activity and 6 hours per week of countable non-core activity.

3.3.2.5 How do I to deem?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has rules that apply to participants in community service and work experience (unpaid work activities).

  • Participants must have Labor and Industry Insurance coverage.
  • Participants can't be required to work more hours than their grant plus food stamp benefits divided by the state or local minimum wage, whichever is higher, each month. We call this the "FLSA maximum hours". See section 3.3.2.6 for more information on the local minimum wage rates.

Under federal rules, participants who work the FLSA maximum hours meet their full core activity requirement. The FLSA maximum hours for the past, current and upcoming month is calculated and displayed in eJAS, and visible to contractors in the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen via the Calculate FLSA link. To calculate FLSA hours for applicants and re-applicants, the WFPS/WFSSS enters the cash and food benefit amounts and household size. The eJAS calculation defaults to the Washington State minimum wage, so if a client is subject to a higher local minimum wage the FLSA hours will need to be manually adjusted. See section 3.3.2.6 for more information about determining FLSA hours based on local minimum wages.     

When a participant is first approved for WorkFirst cash assistance, and the participant is entering a community service or work experience activity, DSHS staff are required to use the eJAS FLSA Calculator Tool to determine the maximum number of participation hours for the current month and pass that information to community service and work experience providers. eJAS starts to calculate and display the FLSA maximum hours to all partners and contractors as soon as the calculation is saved.

Staff can use the eJAS FLSA calculator tool to calculate the FLSA maximum hours based on the participant's grant and food stamp benefits, divided by the state or local minimum wage. The result is the maximum FLSA hours for the month. The FLSA calculator tool automatically divides the monthly maximum FLSA hours by 4.33 and rounds down to determine how many hours the participant performs unpaid work, on average, each week.

Example: Dorothy agrees to participating in Community Works, skills enhancement training and her FLSA maximum hours are 14 hours per week. Under FLSA we can only require Dorothy to do 14 hours per week of Community Works and that meets her 20-hour core activity requirement. Dorothy does an additional 12 hours per week of skills enhancement training to bring her up to 32 hours per week of countable participation and we add 3 additional hours of skills enhancement training (instead of Community Works) per WFHB 1.2.3 to add additional hours without exceeding the FLSA maximum.

There are special rules for deeming in two-participant families. Most important, the FLSA maximum hours apply to the entire family, not to each participant. To be classified as a two-participant family under federal rules, neither participant can be:

  • An undocumented immigrant
  • Disabled (on SSI/SSA disability or with a ZD exemption), or
  • Caring for a disabled family member (with a ZB or ZC exemption)

Under WorkFirst, we want each participant to participate 32-40 hours per week unless one participant is opting out, or the participants are splitting the hours, under WFHB 1.2.4. When we maximize participation at the headquarters level, we use federal rules to deem 30 hours of core activities if either participant works the family's FLSA maximum hours. When we do this, the whole family meets the rate if either participant does an additional 5 hours of another type of core or non-core activity.

Some families FLSA maximum hours exceed 20-30 hours per week so we don't deem additional hours. In these cases you may:

  • Credit excess hours towards the additional 12-20 hours of core/non-core activities, or,
  • Limit the community service/work experience to 20 hours per week so the participants can participate in other beneficial, countable activities

See WFHB 1.2.3 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the parent’s IRP when possible.  Don’t exceed the FLSA maximum hours for unpaid work activities.  You can substitute non-core hours for core hours as needed to stay within the FLSA maximum.

3.3.2.6 When do I use the local minimum wage and how do I process these cases?

Under FLSA and state law, DSHS must use the state or local minimum wage, whichever is higher, when determining hours of participation in unpaid work experience and community service activities.  Local ordinances are only in effect within the local government's boundaries and may only apply to some types of employment.  For the purposes of FLSA deeming, DSHS is an employer. 

For local minimum wage cases, the WorkFirst partner/contractor must send the local minimum wage rate to DSHS to receive the adjusted FLSA hours.  The WFPS/WFSSS is responsible to calculate the adjusted FLSA hours by entering the cash grant amount, basic food allotment, and number of household members into the FLSA calculator tool. Staff must use the eJAS FLSA Calculator Tool to update participation when there is a change on the cash or food household, and as update the IRP for all local minimum wage cases. 

Note: When the WFPS/WFSSS sets up the unpaid work activity, they use the FLSA Local Minimum Wage Chart (for staff use only) to determine whether local minimum wage applies.   

3.3.2.7 How to Deem Step-by-Step Guide

  1. For unpaid work activities, WorkFirst staff and contractors determine if the local minimum wage rate applies using the FLSA Local Minimum Wage Rate Chart.
  2. When the state minimum wage applies:
    1. For newly approved WorkFirst applicants and re-applicants, the WFPS/WFSSS uses the eJAS FLSA calculator tool on the Calculate FLSA screen to determine FLSA hours for the current month based on household size and the cash and food benefit amounts.
  3. When the local minimum wage rate applies:
    1. WF partners and contractors send the local minimum wage rate to DSHS to get the adjusted FLSA hours. 
    2. The WFPS/WFSSS:
      1. Uses the FLSA calculator tool by entering the number of TANF/SFA members in the Basic Food household, total members in the Basic Food household, monthly grant amount, monthly Basic Food allotment into the corresponding fields to determine the maximum FLSA hours using higher minimum wage.
      2. Notifies the WF partner/contractor, as needed, of the adjusted hours.
      3. Documents local minimum wage data in ongoing eJAS notes:
        1. Local minimum wage applies,
        2. Local minimum wage rate, and
        3. FLSA hours.
      4. Updates the IRP, as needed.
  4. If there is a change in cash/food benefits during the participant’s unpaid work activity:
    1. DSHS gets an eJAS Review FLSA hours notification via the CLMR.
    2. The WFPS/WFSSS:
      1. Checks to see if this is a local minimum wage case, as the change in benefits may impact the maximum number of hours allowed for participation.
      2. For local minimum wage cases they:
        1. Enter the new minimum wage amount into the FLSA Calculator tool;
        2. Document (the local minimum wage, the local minimum wage rate, and the FLSA hours) in ongoing eJAS notes;
        3. Modify the IRP; and,
        4. Notify the WorkFirst partner/contractor, as needed.
  5. If the FLSA hours need to be split amongst household members:
    1. The WFPS/WFSSS:
      1. Selects Parent 2 by name from the drop down box on the Calculate FLSA for AU screen and enters the number of participation hours.
      2. Clicks on Split Hours to generate the FLSA hours for Parent 1 and Parent 2 (Total monthly hours will be rounded down).

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.4 Case Staffing

Created on: 
Aug 15 2017

Revised on July, 2021

Legal References:

The Case Staffing section includes:

  • 3.4.1 What is a case staffing?
  • 3.4.2 Who needs a case staffing?
  • 3.4.3 When are case staffings mandatory?
  • 3.4.4 Who do you involve in a case staffing?
  • 3.4.5 What are the benefits of a case staffing?
  • 3.4.6 Case Staffing - Step-by-Step Guide

3.4.1 What is a case staffing?

A case staffing is an opportunity for the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) and/or the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) to exchange information about the participant and gain consultation from other professionals. It is a group process in which the case worker (WFPS or WFSSS) invites two or more professionals and others involved with the participant to help identify issues, suggest problem resolution strategies, and recommend service options.

WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Gather demographics (names, ages of family members and others in the household)
  • Invite at least two other relevant professionals such as social service specialists or persons from other agencies that work(ed) with the participant. A minimum of two professionals, the WFPS/WFSSS and at least one other professional must be present to conduct a case staffing.
  • Advise participants facing sanction that they can invite anyone they choose.
  • Document in eJAS Case Staffing notes:
    • Who attended (relevant professionals).
    • Circumstances of the case
    • Issues, strengths, concerns and anticipated duration of issues or concerns. Strengths may be having a high school diploma, stable housing, or reliable transportation. If possible, identify how strengths may help address any barriers such as how the participant's education may be helpful in obtaining employment.
    • Whether you screened the participant for EA and if there is an EA plan. Take appropriate steps to modify the EA plan as needed.
    • Past or present issues and how they were addressed. 
    • Roles and responsibilities of those involved with the participant.
    • Create a joint action plan with time-frames and expected outcomes.
  • Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) Case Staffing Documentation Standard: In addition to the eJAS Case Staffing documentation, you must:
    • Document that you reviewed and discussed all available information with one or more professionals, and
    • Include an explanation of the decision whether or not to pursue sanction.

3.4.2 Who needs a case staffing?

The participant may need a case staffing at any point when it appears they are not making progress or there are significant issues to address. It is important that you do everything you can for families before they reach 60 months on WorkFirst. Staff can conduct case staffings as early and regularly as possible. Some case staffings are mandatory, others are conducted based on the recommendation of the WFPS, WFSSS, partner agency or contractor such as Community Jobs.

Below are some strategies local Community Service Offices (CSOs) use to make this effective tool available to a broad range of participants:

  • All Cases: Conduct case staffings on an entire caseload to ensure all participants met with WF staff, have a reasonable and timely IRP, and have timely and appropriate referrals. This is helpful to maximize participation. This can be an in depth review or the case including identifying issues and action steps addressing the issues. You must invite at least two other professionals such as WFSSS or persons from other agencies that have worked with the sanctioned participant. Depending on the type of case being staffed, staff may invite Employment Security Department, college staff, community jobs contractors, or other community contractors.
  • Cases with common characteristics: Staff common cases (such as all employed, all sanctioned, or all X cases) to develop specialized processes and resources to address the needs of groups of participants. With this type of staffing, you may refer participants to existing services and make plans to fill gaps in services. 
  • Difficult cases: Staff cases discussed in 3.4 Intensive Services. This particular type of case staffing generally requires more time to conduct a review of the case and develop a plan to meet the participant's needs.
  • Employment Security Department (ESD) and DSHS staff talk to the participant about options available for the next step who are nearing completion of Career Scope services without finding a job. Options include Work Experience (WEX), on-the-job training opportunities, Community Jobs, approved training, including basic education, or additional Career Scope services if appropriate. Local staff should work together to develop processes that will make sure participants don't lost momentum in participation as they transition from one activity to another.

3.4.3 When are case staffings mandatory?

Case staffings are mandatory for participants who haven't participated in WorkFirst activities, without good cause, before entering sanction status.

The goal of the NCS Case Staffing is to re-engage the participant into appropriate WorkFirst activities.

A good cause/non-compliance Sanction (NCS) case staffing requires the assigned worker to invite two other relevant professionals such as the WFPS/WFSSS, Public Health Nurse, Chemical Dependency Professional, etc. The worker (WFPS or WFSSS) assigned to the case counts as one professional.

It is extremely important to invite a Child Welfare Programs (CWP) Social Service Specialist if CWP is working with the individual.

For more information regarding good cause/NCS case staffings, please refer to section 3.5.1 Entering Sanction.

3.4.4 Who do you involve in a case staffing?

As shown in the chart below, depending on the participant's circumstances, you may want to invite different people to attend a case staffing.

Most state employees attend at no cost. Support services are available if a psychologist or similar professional needs to be paid.Your local region or office may consider some instances, such as "all case" reviews, as staff training and pay as a training cost. Other payment options include exception to rule, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation or Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) funds, Social Services Payment System dollars, school district support, or Labor & Industries, accommodation and diagnostic money.

If key professionals can't attend, then the WFPS or WFSSS should attempt to gather information prior to the staffing through phone calls and/or other correspondence.

WorkFirst staff

Note: PRISM is a useful tool to identify potential issues that prevent participation; however, use of PRISM to gather information for purposes of imposing sanctions for failure to follow through with requirements is prohibited.
Suggested case staffing participants
Children's special needs
  • DDD case manager
  • Child psychologist
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Health or Mental Health Provider
Depression
  • Mental Health Provider
Chemical Dependency
  • Alcohol & Drug Assessment staff
  • Mental Health provider
  • Child Welfare Program staff
Cultural issues
  • Refugee service providers
  • Tribal representatives
  • Indian Policy and Affairs staff
  • Migrant & Seasonal Farm Worker representative
  • Affiliate from Religious Organization
Wage progression
  • Community/technical college staff
  • ESD staff
  • Employer
Child care
  • Child Care Information & Referral
  • Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) staff
  • Child Welfare Program staff
Job retention
  • ESD staff
  • Employment-focused Mental Health Provider
  • Independent living specialist
  • Employer
  • Community/technical college staff
Family violence
  • Family violence advocate and/or community service provider
  • Mental health provider
  • Child Welfare Program staff
  • Attorney of criminal and/or civil case(s)
Legal, probation & parole
  • Dept. of Corrections staff
  • Local judicial staff

3.4.5 What are the benefits of case staffing?

Case staffings usually provide another approach to identify concerns by bringing together a multidisciplinary team of experts to review cases, identify resolution strategies, and recommend solutions. Bringing the group together for this purpose increases everyone's understanding of services and expertise available in the community and provides an opportunity for creative problem solving and resource development.

A good case staffing brings the right people to the table to identify the needs and suggest or supply the resources to meet those needs. For more information regarding good cause/NCS case staffings, please refer to section 3.5.1 Entering Sanction.

3.4.6 Case Staffing - Step-by-step guide

  1. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines the type of case staffing needed (all cases, specified type of cases or a difficult case);
    2. Invites the appropriate case staffing attendees; and
    3. Prepares copies of the IRP/case demographics for the staffing.
  2. The case staffing group:
    1. Identifies, prioritizes and determines who meets each participant's need;
    2. Increases emphasis on work/work activities as other issues are resolved;
    3. Creates short-term and long-term goals, with plans to meet each; and
    4. Establishes and documents in eJAS time frames for results or review of the IRP.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Makes the agreed upon referrals, updates the IRP and EA plan as needed;
    2. Authorizes needed support services; and
    3. Documents
      • The attendees,
      • Circumstances of the case,
      • Case staffing results including issues, strengths, EA plans and any steps necessary to address issues,
      • When doing NCS case staffing, an explanation of the decision whether or not to pursue sanction/NCS. Please refer to section 3.5.1 Entering Sanction for more information.
Note: Case Staffing screens are considered special records (highly protected) for DSHS-only (see guide below).
Note: It is critical that you invite the Child Welfare Program (CWP) Social Service Specialist to the good cause/NCS case staffing if the family is involved with CWP.

eJAS Case Staffing Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Log into eJAS, enter the participant's JAS ID number and from the main menu, click on the "Case Staffing/Extension Review" link. Once the Case Staffing page, click on the "Create Case Staffing" link.
  2. Case Data Tab:
    • Staffing Date: Enter the date. To display the calendar help screen, click the icon beside the staffing date entry box.
    • Component IRP: To display the active components and IRP screen, click this button.
    • Referral: To create and send a referral, click this button.
    • Completed Date: Complete this box ONLY when you have fully finished the case staffing. Once completed you can't modify this Case Staffing event anymore.
  3. Attendees Tab:
    • Enter a minimum of two Case Staffing attendee's names in the boxes provided. A minimum of two professionals are required to conduct the case staffing, the assigned worker (WFPS/WFSSS) counts as one professional.
  4. Issues/Notes Tab:
    • Click "Create New Notes."
    • On the Create Notes page, select the issues prior to documentation
    • Click "Begin Notes."
    • Enter your notes on the text box.
    • Click "Continue with Note List" to go to the next issue or go back to Case Staffing.
  5. Case Staffing Result Letter:
    • Select the Case Staffing Result Letter and customize the letter to reflect the results of the case staffing. Print the letter and give/send the participant a copy of the letter. If necessary, translate the Case Staffing Result Letter into the appropriate language and send translated document to DMS.
  6. Saving:
    • Clicking from one tab to another will save the entries for the previous tab.
    • To save a Case Staffing entry as complete, you need to enter a date and select the appropriate case staffing event type(s)
      • Sanction
      • 60 month
      • Exempt
      • Other

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

3.5.1 Entering Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS)

Non-Compliance Sanction Policy

Revised on: September 20, 2021

A note on transition policy: All WorkFirst participants and applicants in WorkFirst non-compliance sanction status prior to July 1, 2021 have a “clean slate.” This means all WorkFirst recipients/applicants are in good standing without a requirement of a sanction “cure” for any WorkFirst sanction statuses prior to July 1, 2021.

Legal References:

The Non-Compliance Sanction Policy has three separate sub-sections:

  • Section 3.5.1 - Entering Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) describes how to make the NCS decision.

This section includes:

  • 3.5.1.1 What is the Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) policy?
  • 3.5.1.2 What are Non-Compliance Sanctions?
  • 3.5.1.3 How long does NCS without reduction last?
  • 3.5.1.4 How long does NCS reduction last?
  • 3.5.1.5 Scheduling a good cause appointment/NCS case staffing.
  • 3.5.1.6 What is the good cause 10-day period?
  • 3.5.1.7 What if the post office returns the participant's mail?
  • 3.5.1.8 What happens at the good cause/NCS case staffing?
  • 3.5.1.9 How do I determine if the participant has good cause?
  • 3.5.1.10 What if I determine the participant doesn't have good cause?
  • 3.5.1.11 What if the participant fails to attend the good cause/NCS case staffing?
  • 3.5.1.12 What do I do after the NCS case staffing?
  • 3.5.1.13 What if the supervisor disagrees with the recommendation for NCS reduction or termination?
  • 3.5.1.14 When do I send the adverse action notice?
  • 3.5.1.15 eJAS/ACES Codes
  • 3.5.1.16 Entering Non-Compliance Sanction - Step-by-Step Guide

Other Related Chapters

  • 3.5.2 - Ending Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) describes what happens when a participant stays in NCS.
  • 3.5.3 - NCS Reapplications describes how to process reapplications from NCS terminations.

3.5.1.1 What is the Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) policy?

When a WorkFirst participant doesn't participate satisfactorily in their required activities, following two months in a row of non-compliance, TANF will be reduced. TANF must be terminated following twelve months in a row of non-compliance. The goal of this year-long process is to provide ample time for participants to re-engage or document good cause and opportunity for WorkFirst staff to assist them in doing this. 

WorkFirst staff must provide opportunities for participant(s) in NCS to re-engage in appropriate WorkFirst activities and address any barriers to participation. WorkFirst staff should intervene early and contact participants in NCS monthly to encourage them to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the WorkFirst program. 

Note:  Dependent teens aren't required to participate in WorkFirst activities and can't receive an NCS penalty for failure to participate.

3.5.1.2 What are Non-Compliance Sanctions?

A non-compliance sanction (NCS) is a penalty that may result in the reduction and termination of a family's  TANF cash assistance. WFPS/WFSSS impose an NCS penalty when a participant is able, but refuses without good cause to:

  • Provide information needed to develop the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP), including completing a required comprehensive evaluation,
  • Show up for scheduled WorkFirst appointments,
  • Participate in agreed to IRP activities, or
  • Accept a job (that meets the criteria in WAC 388-310-1500).

There are three phases of NCS:

  • NCS without reduction: Two TANF months in a row without reduction of cash assistance following supervisor approval for NCS;
  • NCS reduction: Reduction of cash assistance after two TANF months in a row of NCS without reduction; and
  • NCS termination: Termination of cash assistance following ten TANF months in a row of NCS reduction. 

If  the WFPS/WFSSS discovers a participant is unable to participate in the current activities in the IRP, they may:

  • Revise the IRP to an appropriate activity;
  • Defer; or
  • Exempt the person from participation.

3.5.1.3 How long does NCS without reduction last?

WorkFirst staff must allow a participant to have two TANF months of NCS without reduction before applying an NCS reduction.

Examples:

#1: A participant stops their activity and doesn't provide good cause at the case staffing scheduled August 12th. WorkFirst staff refer the case to their supervisor for NCS. 

  • A supervisor/designee approves a participant's NCS on August 15th.
  • The first month of NCS without reduction is September (09/01) and October (10/01) is the second month of NCS without reduction.
  • The NCS reduction is anticipated for November (11/01).

#2 If TANF closed/terminated for any other reason following supervisor/designee approval, but before the first month of NCS without reduction. 

  • The participant's TANF closes August (08/31) for no Eligibility Review (ER) before the first month of NCS without reduction. 
  • If the participant reapplies for TANF, they will return in month one of NCS without reduction. 

#3 If TANF closed/terminated for any other reason during month one of NCS without reduction:

  • The participant's first NCS month without reduction is September (09/01) and TANF closes in September (09/30) for no Eligibility Review (ER) during the first month of NCS without reduction.
  • If the participant reapplies for TANF on November 8th, November is the second month of NCS without reduction. 

3.5.1.4 How long does NCS reduction last?

Participants who were in NCS without reduction for two TANF months receive an NCS reduction. An NCS reduction can last for a maximum of ten months before NCS termination.

Examples:

#1: If the participant was in NCS without reduction for September (09/01) and October (10/01), the NCS reduction begins in November (11/01).

  • The participant can receive up to ten total months of  NCS reduction.
  • If participant remains on TANF for ten months in a row, the case would receive an NCS Termination in August (08/31).

#2: TANF closed/terminated for any other reason following supervisor/designee approval, but before NCS reduction is applied.

  • A supervisor/designee approves a participant's NCS reduction on August 15th, the NCS reduction is scheduled for November (11/01) as September (09/01) and October (10/01) were the two months of NCS without reduction.
  • The participant's TANF closed in October (10/31) for no Eligibility Review (ER) before the NCS reduction.
  • If the participant reapplies for TANF, they return in month one of the NCS reduction, provided the participant received advance and adequate notice of NCS reduction prior to TANF closure.

#3 TANF terminated for another reason while a participant is in NCS reduction

  • The participant received a NCS reduction in November (11/01) and December (12/01)
  • The participant's TANF closed in December (12/31) for no Eligibility Review (ER) while in month two of NCS reduction.
  • If the participant reapplies for TANF in March (03/07), they open in month three of NCS reduction.  

3.5.1.5 Scheduling a good cause appointment/NCS case staffing

A good cause/NCS case staffing is scheduled when a participant doesn’t show up for a scheduled WorkFirst appointment, doesn’t participate in activities required in their IRP, or doesn't accept a job.

The WFPS/WFSSS must:

  • Schedule a good cause appointment/NCS case staffing with the participant to find out if there is a good reason for not participating.
  • Provide the WorkFirst Non-Participation (ACES 85-01) letter to the participant, with the appointment date as close to the 10th day as possible while allowing for 10-day notice.
  • Document in eJAS other relevant professionals invited to the case staffing including WFSSS and applicable persons from other agencies. Child Welfare (CW) social workers or representatives must be invited if the are currently/recently worked with the participant.

Participants can contact their WFPS/WFSSS in writing, by phone, by going to the appointment scheduled in their good cause letter, or by asking for a different appointment time. The non-compliance period begins the day a WFPS/WFSSS send the WorkFirst Non-Participation Appointment Letter (85-01) scheduling a good cause/NCS case staffing appointment. 

This ensures:

  • Policy and legal requirements are met,
  • All parties are involved in making the NCS decision, and
  • The participant has an opportunity to bring someone with them to their good cause/NCS case staffing appointment.

If a participant calls or comes in prior to the scheduled good cause appointment and wants to participate – the WFPS/WFSSS can do the following options:

  • If the participant waives their 10-day notice for good cause, conduct a good cause determination with participant and at least one other professional, following established guidelines, refer for NCS reduction if appropriate, and use their new IRP as the start of the participant’s cure, or
  • Cancel the good cause appointment, if good cause is determined and complete a new IRP; or
  • If the participant doesn't wish to waive their 10-day notice for good cause, advise the customer of the time and date of the good cause appointment. Any attempt to re-engage them will need to be completed at the scheduled good cause NCS case staffing.

During any contact, if the participant wasn't given 10 calendar days to establish good cause or the good cause determination wasn't offered, the case isn't procedurally correct and the non-compliance sanction is invalid.

3.5.1.6 What is the good cause 10-day period?

In counting the 10 days, day one begins when the participant is mailed or given, the "good cause" letter. This is the same as how we count the 10-day period for adverse action notices. Allow for an additional business day when the letter isn’t mailed out the same day that it generates (either locally or by state office). If the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, the participant has until the following business day to provide the information requested.

The WFPS/WFSS documents in eJAS how the letter is presented to the participant (in-person delivery, locally mailed, or centrally printed/mailed).

The following scenarios are examples of how to count the 10-day good cause period.

Day 1 is 8/4 and Day 10 is 8/13

  • The WFPS/WFSSS locally prints and hands the good cause letter to the participant in the office. The date on the letter is 8/4. Documents in eJAS the letter was handed directly to the participant on 8/4
  • The WFPS/WFSSS locally prints and places the good cause letter in outgoing mail from office before the afternoon local mail cutoff. The date on the letter is 8/4. Documents in eJAS the letter was locally mailed on 8/4 before the afternoon cutoff.

Day 1 is 8/4 and Day 10 is 8/16

  • The WFPS/WFSSS locally prints and places the good cause letter in outgoing mail after the afternoon local mail cutoff. The letter will go out the next business day. The date on the letter is 8/4. If 8/14 falls on a Saturday, the participant has until the end of the next business day (8/16) to provide good cause.
  • The WFPS/WFSSS chooses central print to mail the good cause letter to the participant. The letter will go out the next business day. The date on the letter is 8/4. Since 8/14 falls on a weekend, the participant has until the end of the next business day (8/16) to provide good cause.

3.5.1.7 What if the post office returns the participants mail?

A WorkFirst participant needs to know what is required of them. When mail is returned, the opportunity to engage participants is missed. If a participant’s mailed IRP returns, they have good cause for failure to participate because they didn't know the requirements. The NCS process can't be followed if the postal service returns the good cause interview appointment letter because they have a right to attend their case staffing.

However, once a NCS decision is made, per WAC 388-458-0025 and 388-310-1600(4), the obligation is to send out a 10-day change in benefits letter. There are no provisions to lift NCS reduction/reinstate full benefits if the post office returns the change in benefits letter.

In these cases, the case likely closes for loss of contact.

3.5.1.8 What happens at the good cause/NCS case staffing?

There are two stages at the NCS case staffing. First, listen and collect information from the participant to determine if there’s good cause for not meeting WorkFirst requirements. Second, determine if the participant doesn’t have good cause, use the eJAS Non-Compliance Case Staffing & Review Criteria tool to determine the next appropriate step for the participant. Additionally, the WFPS/WFSSS must:

  • Complete the good cause/NCS case staffing in compliance with any limited-English proficiency (LEP) and Equal Access (EA) plans to communicate effectively with the non-participating parent/caregiver. Follows the procedures in section 3.4 Case Staffing to set up the staffing.
  • Conducts an NCS case staffing during the good cause appointment to decide whether to refer a participant for refusal to participate without good cause.
  • Documents any information the participant provides about the non-participation (phone calls or documents) before the case staffing occurs.
  • Includes the following people in the case staffing:
    • The non-participating parent/caregiver (if they show up for the good cause appointment).
    • Anyone the non-participating parent/caregiver brings with them.
    • Other relevant professionals, such as a WFSSS or applicable persons from other agencies involved with the participant, which may include tribal representatives, WorkFirst partners, family violence advocates, or LEP pathway providers.
    • Child Welfare (CW) social worker or representative if they currently work/recently worked with the family. Incorporate supported activities CW may require the participant to engage in activities such as counseling or substance abuse treatment in their IRP. CW staff can help re-engage the participant in activities to support barrier reduction. The WFPS/WFSSS documents in the participant's case if there is CW involvement and if the CW social worker or representative was invited to the case staffing.
Note: A minimum of two professionals must attend the case staffing. The WorkFirst worker counts as one professional. In no instances, can a case manager be the only one making a decision to refer for NCS.

3.5.1.9 How do I determine if the participant has good cause?

The goal is to involve participants in WorkFirst activities to increase their ability to earn a living and provide support for their children, not to place their case in NCS. It's very important to determine and document whether a participant is refusing, rather than unable to comply. If a participant is unable to comply and we are able to determine why, then we can work more effectively with them and their family.

WFPS/WFSSS need to be particularly careful not to place participants in non-compliance sanction who don't comply because they don't have affordable or appropriate child care, and don't know what help is available. There is a special brochure (WorkFirst Opportunities Brochure DSHS 22-1125) that you can use to give basic child care information to all participants who face non-compliance sanction.

Anyone who isn't fully participating as required has good cause if there is a significant barrier or combination of barriers outside of their control that prevent full participation. Some areas to review with every participant that may prevent compliance include having:

  • An unmet need for Equal Access services (EA). 
  • Limited-English Proficiency (LEP), not addressed through interpreters or translations that result in the participant not understanding WorkFirst requirements. 
  • An emergent or severe medical condition (verified by health care professional) of the participant or a family member in the participant's care.
  • Mental health or chemical dependency issues.
  • Family violence. 
  • Immediate legal concerns.
  • Homelessness.

Consider non-participation due to unexcused absences good cause if there’s a significant circumstance outside of the participant's control, such as but not limited to, family violence or hospitalization that made it difficult for the participant to call in to get the absence excused.

If there isn't enough information to make a good cause decision, give the non-participating parent/caregiver a written request for any needed additional proof. For example, if the participant reports a new barrier give/send them a letter requesting documentation or verification of the barrier. Don't send a recommendation to impose NCS until a decision is made based on the verification provided.

If the WFPS/WFSSS determines the participant had good cause for failure to participate in their assigned activities:

  • Complete NCS eJAS Tool questions 1-14;
  • Answer 'No' to question 15;
  • Document the decision in eJAS sanction case notes.

When there is a determination of good cause, WFPS/WFSSS must change the IRP to reflect the appropriate activities and level of services the participant needs to successfully participate. In addition, they may need to:

  • Complete or review the comprehensive evaluation (e.g. Pathway Development Tool);
  • Modify participation requirements and/or support services for a new IRP;
  • Provide a deferral from a specific activity or an exemption. 

3.5.1.10 What if I determine the participant doesn't have good cause?

The purpose of the NCS eJAS tool is to document that the WFPS/WFSSS followed the non-compliance sanction process, gave the participant every opportunity to participate, reviewed the case with others, and agreed with the NCS referral. It also helps to determine the next appropriate step based on all available information. The participant could be referred for NCS reduction and/or be re-engaged.

If it's determined the participant doesn't have good cause for failure to participate, complete the eJAS Non-Compliance Sanction Case Staffing & Review Criteria tool (NCS eJAS tool) questions 1-15 during the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment.

If the participant attends their NCS case staffing and does not meet good cause, the WFPS/WFSSS follows the NCS eJAS tool:

  • Discusses how participation helps participants and their family.
  • Makes sure the participant has an opportunity to participate, which may include:
    • Changing IRP requirements if different WorkFirst activities may help the participant move towards independence and employment sooner.
    • Provides support services the participant needs to participate.
  • Describes the non-compliance sanction penalties, what happens if a participant stays in non-compliance sanction, and how to end the non-compliance sanction.
  • Explains continued non-participation without good cause, may result in a decision to close the cash grant once the participant has been in NCS reduction for ten months;
  • Explores how the participant plans to care for and support their children, (this is called the Child Safety Review) if their case closes, including local resources that may help meet their needs.  This can include Food, BFET, WIC, Childcare, Head Start etc.;
  • Explains to the non-participating parent/caregiver that they may be able to receive CEAP if the supervisor or designee approves their case for closure (see Section 3.5.3.2)
  • Documents barriers discussed and the results of the case staffing in the NCS eJAS tool.
  • Provides an eJAS NCS case staffing results letter.

3.5.1.11 What if the participant fails to attend the good cause appointment/NCS case staffing?

If the participant fails to attend the good cause appointment/NCS case staffing, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Conducts the appointment with at least one other relevant professional.
  • Determines whether the participant was able to participate (in the required activities as outlined in the IRP) during the NCS case staffing based on available information (such as case notes, information from other professionals and medical records).
  • Documents the following:
    • Issues discussed and the results of the case staffing in the NCS eJAS tool.
    • The participant waived the opportunity to attend and to describe the outcome of the staffing.
  • Mails the following to the participant:
    • Information about resources the family may need if their TANF grant is reduced or closed. This qualifies as the Child Safety Review if the participant doesn’t show up for their NCS case staffing.
    • The eJAS NCS case staffing results letter.

3.5.1.12 What do I do after the NCS case staffing?

The WFPS/WFSSS determines if the participant meets NCS reduction referral criteria:

  • If good cause wasn’t found, request supervisor or designee approval in the NCS eJAS tool.  
  • If a participant hasn't ended their non-compliance sanction following ten months of NCS reduction a WFPS/WFSSS will complete a NCS termination referral.

Please see 3.5.1.16 Entering Non-Compliance Sanction - Step-by-step guide below for additional details.

3.5.1.13 What if the supervisor disagrees with a recommendation for NCS reduction or termination? 

When a participant is referred for a NCS reduction or NCS termination penalty, the supervisor/designee reviews the NCS eJAS tool to determine whether the NCS policy and process was correctly followed.

There are two types of supervisor/designee denials:

Pending Correction: A supervisor/designee may deny the NCS reduction or NCS termination and send the recommendation back to the WFPS/WFSSS for correction by selecting the following reason in the NCS eJAS Tool:

  • Needs correction - NCS Review Criteria sent back for correction.

The WFPS/WFSSS has the option to correct necessary actions and resubmit the NCS reduction or termination recommendation.  

Final Denial Decision: The supervisor/designee may deny the NCS reduction or termination and stop the NCS process. The supervisor/designee provides the appropriate denial reason from drop down menu (the denial reasons can be procedural or missed barriers). When a hard denial reason is selected by the supervisor/designee, this closes the NCS eJAS Tool.

3.5.1.14 When do I send an adverse action notice?

The department can’t apply an NCS reduction to a participant until a 10-day notice of adverse action is sent. The NCS reduction notice will be sent following supervisor approval of NCS reduction and two benefit months of NCS without reduction.

For example:

  • 8/15 - A participant is referred back from Community Jobs.
  • 8/16 - The WFPS/WFSSS sends a WorkFirst Non-Participation Appointment letter (085-01) scheduling a good cause/NCS Case Staffing appointment with at least 10 calendar days’ notice to find out if there is good cause for non-compliance.
  • 8/27 - The WFPS and WFSSS met with the participant and determined that good cause doesn’t exist and referred the participant’s case to the supervisor for NCS reduction.
  • 8/29 - A supervisor/designee approved the NCS reduction penalty.
  • 9/1 - Is the first month of NCS without reduction.
  • 10/1 - Is the second month NCS without reduction.
  • 10/1 – Is the first day an adverse action notice could be mailed to a participant following two months of NCS without reduction.
  • 11/1- Is the first month (of a possible ten months) of NCS reduction.
Note: The adverse action letter addressed to head of household must specify the name of the participant in the household who is receiving the NCS penalty. This applies for both one and two-parent households.

Once the WFPS/WFSSS determines a participant didn’t have a good reason for not meeting their WorkFirst requirements, the WFPS/WFSSS must advise:

  • Who is being placed in NCS (specific participant)
  • How the participant didn’t meet specific WorkFirst requirements
  • That the participant is in NCS status
  • The penalties that will be applied to the grant
  • When the penalties will be applied
  • Administrative hearing rights
  • How to end the penalties and get out of NCS status

Please note that on the 08-01 Change in Benefits letter and 06-02 Termination of TANF/SFA letter, WorkFirst staff only need to enter the information corresponding to the second bullet. The rest of the information is automatically printed on the letter. For additional details please see 3.5.1.16 Entering Non-Compliance Sanction - Step-by-step guide.

If these points aren’t met in the notice of adverse action, then the requirements haven’t been met, and the participant can't be placed in non-compliance sanction.

3.5.1.15 eJAS/ACES codes

When a participant is sanctioned, use the following ACES and eJAS codes:

  • SA (eJAS code indicating the participant is in non-compliance sanction).
  • IC (eJAS closure code showing that a component has been closed incomplete)
  • RE (ACES WORK screen non-compliance sanction code for households 60 months or less on WorkFirst cash assistance)
  • SN (eJAS non-compliance sanction code for households 61 or more months on WorkFirst cash assistance)
  • PR (code indicating a NCS case staffing has been scheduled)

3.5.1.16 Entering Non-Compliance Sanction - Step-by-step guide

Note: The NCS process is supported and tracked in eJAS. each  If future incidences of non-participation, new appointments must be conducted and a separate NCS eJAS tool created.

A. Setting up the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment

The WFPS/WFSSS identifies participants who aren't complying with program requirements and sends the participant the WorkFirst Non-Participation Appointment letter (085-01) scheduling a good cause/NCS Case Staffing appointment within 10 calendar days to find out if there's good cause for noncompliance.

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Addresses the letter to the non-compliant participant.
  2. Specifies who is in non-compliance.
  3. Adds the required text explaining how the participant didn’t meet requirements. For example,  "You didn't meet with your provider on [date] at the scheduled time [time]."
  4. Closes affected component code(s) with IC and contractor code(s) with actual ending date.
  5. Enters PR component code in eJAS with a scheduled end date that coincides with the good cause appointment date, between 10 and 14 calendar days.
  6. Invites and documents in eJAS at least two other relevant professionals, such as a social service specialist or someone from another agency who is working with the participant, to the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment. A minimum of two professionals is required with the assigned worker (WFPS or WFSSS) counting as one professional.
  7. Documents whether the Child Welfare (CW) were or are involved with the family, and if so, if CW was invited to the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment.

B. Conducting the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment

At the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment when the participant attends. With appropriate professionals, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Determines whether good cause exists by:
    1. Listening to the participant and collecting any new information.
    2. Reviewing available information and determining if activities were appropriate.
    3. Discussing the following with the participant:
      1. Program requirements and why they have not been meeting WorkFirst requirements.
      2. Strengths and barriers.
      3. Overall progress towards participant goals.
      4. Share benefits and opportunities within WorkFirst programs, including support services available.
  2. If the participant doesn’t have good cause:
    1. Ensures the participant was given 10 days to contact the office and establish good cause.
    2. Explains why the department is recommending NCS reduction.
    3. Conducts a Child Safety review to help the participant plan for case closure, including:
      1. How the participant plans to support their family once they lose cash assistance.
      2. Explaining the possible continuation of Washington Apple Health and Basic Food Assistance.
      3. Providing a list of community resources (like WIC) that are available to help meet the family’s need.
      4. Explaining that they may be able to apply for CEAP at reapplication if the case is closed for non-compliance sanction.
    4. Offers re-engagement.
    5. If the participant agrees to participate, completes/reviews comprehensive evaluation (e.g. Pathway Development Tool - see WFHB 3.2.3.7) and modifies the IRP, as required. 
    6. Closes the PR and updates all needed components. 

At the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment when the participant doesn’t attend. With appropriate professionals, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Bases the decision on all available information, such as case notes or medical records. 
  2. Attempts to reach participant by phone to conduct staffing by phone while partners are available.
  3. Closes the PR component code.
Note: PRISM is a useful tool to identify potential issues that prevent participation; however, use of PRISM to gather information for purposes of imposing non-compliance sanctions for failure to follow through with requirements is prohibited.

C. Processing good cause determinations

  1. When it's determined the participant has good cause, the WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Enters the appropriate codes for the required activities.
    2. Adjusts the IRP.
    3. Makes appropriate referrals.
    4. Authorizes support services as needed.
    5. Completes the eJAS NCS tool questions 1-14.
    6. Answers 'No' to question 15. 
    7. Documents the decision in eJAS.
  1. During the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment when it's determined the participant doesn’t have good cause, the WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Completes the NCS eJAS tool questions 1 through 15, and refers to the supervisor or designee for an NCS reduction determination. 
    2. Prints and sends the case staffing results letter.
    3. Mails a local resource list if the participant doesn't show up for the NCS case staffing (which counts as a Child Safety Review).
    4. Enter PR for seven days allowing for supervisor/designee review.

D.  Processing NCS Without Reduction

The CSO Supervisor/designee routinely monitors the Clients Awaiting Sanction/Term Approval report in eJAS for participants newly referred for NCS reduction. When a participant is referred for NCS reduction, the supervisor/designee:

  1. Reviews the NCS eJAS tool question 1 through 15 to ensure:
    1. Policy was followed.
    2. Entries are accurate.
    3. Documentation is complete.
    4. There is no issue with returned mail, such as the IRP, eJAS appointment letters, or the good cause appointment letter (85-01).
  2. Completes question 16 of the NCS eJAS tool to document the NCS reduction supervisor decision.
    1. A denial with a final denial decision selected stops the NCS process and closes the NCS eJAS tool.
    2. A denial with the pending correction reason selected (needs correction - NCS Review Criteria sent back for correction) returns the NCS eJAS tool (monitored through the CLMR NCS Review Pathway reports) to the WFPS/WFSSS for further action. Supervisors/designees add comments in the question 16 text box regarding what further actions the WFPS/WFSSS must take. The WFPS/WFSSS can either modify the NCS eJAS tool and resend it to the supervisor/designee for review, or cancel the review ending the NCS process. 
  3. An approval approves the NCS reduction. Entry of additional comments in the NCS eJAS tool is optional.

The WFPS/WFSSS can monitor the decision of the supervisor/designee on the NCS Review Pathway-Pending Supervisor Approval report. Once a decision has been made, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Makes the necessary corrections and resubmits to the supervisor/designee if the case was returned for work.
  2. If the NCS reduction recommendation is denied with a final denial decision:
    1. Schedules/contacts the participant for IRP development.
    2. Closes the PR component code.
  3. If the NCS reduction recommendation is approved:
    1. Monitors the Caseload Management Report ‘NCS Review Pathway-Reduction Pending’ report to track when the reduction penalty will be applied.
    2. Opens the SA component code with a scheduled end date in the middle of the next month as a reminder to attempt monthly re-engagement follow-up.
    3. Actively attempts monthly follow-up and re-engagement contacts with the  participant until their case is closed, to discuss the benefits of participation and explain how to end their non-compliance sanction.
    4. Contact is made either using the eJAS NCS Monthly Re-engagement contact letter, by phone, or in-person (if a participant walks into a CSO). If a phone/in-person contact is unsuccessful, sends the NCS re-engagement contact letter.
    5. If a participant is actively engaged in WorkFirst activities to end their non-compliance sanction WFPS/WFSSS aren’t required to send a NCS re-engagement letter, however, are required to attempt a phone call each month to discuss community resources, successes, or potential barriers to required participation. An in-person conversation also satisfies the monthly contact requirement.
    6. Document the contact with participant noting by phone, in-person, or letter and summarize the contact using the NCS Re-engagement eJAS note type. 

E. Processing NCS Reduction

If the supervisor or designee approves the NCS reduction and the participant has received two continuous months of NCS without reduction, the WFPS:

  1. Changes the Participation Status on the participant's ACES/3G Work Registration screen to Refused – Mandatory Participant (RE). The effective date auto populates to the first of the following month, allowing for advance notice.
Note: Review the case receiving the NCS reduction to see if the Basic Food Benefits should be penalized under the Basic Food Program rules for failure or refusal to comply with the Basic Food Work Requirements. Please refer to WorkFirst Sanctions-Participation in the EA-Z manual for more details.
  1. Sends the adverse action notice, Change in Benefits (08-01) allowing for 10 day advanced notice and adding required text:
    1. Who is being placed in NCS (specific participant).
    2. What they did not do (specific activity in IRP unless the activity is confidential). Add the following text including appropriate dates.
      1. You receive a TANF grant and you must participate in the WorkFirst program. You’ve been in non-compliance status for the past two months. You were placed in sanction on (date) because you didn’t have good cause for (fill in what they didn’t do).
    3. That the specific participant is in NCS status.
    4. The penalties that will be applied to the grant.
    5. When the penalties will be applied.
    6. Administrative hearing rights.
    7. How to end the penalties and get out of NCS status.
Note: Staff only need to enter the information corresponding to #2. The remaining information is automatically printed on the letter.
  1. Completes the ‘NCS Case Staffing-Reduction Actions’ section of the NCS eJAS Tool
  2. Monitors Caseload Management Report (CLMR):
    1. ‘Clients in Sanction’ report to track the NCS process.
    2. ‘NCS Review Pathway-Sanction Reengagement’ to track monthly contact efforts.

F. Processing NCS Termination Referral 

If a participant doesn’t have good cause following 10 months of NCS reduction, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Completes the ‘NCS Case Staffing- NCS Termination Referral’ section of the NCS eJAS tool.
  2. Monitors Caseload Management Report (CLMR) ‘Clients in Sanction’ report for supervisor/designee decision.
  3. If the case is returned for further action, makes the necessary corrections and resubmits the NCS Case Staffing - NCS Termination Referral to the supervisor/designee.
Note: The NCS Termination Referral option in the NCS eJAS tool will not available to staff until “months in sanction” in ACES are at least 8.

G.   Processing NCS Termination Supervisor Decision

The CSO Supervisor/designee routinely monitors the Clients Awaiting Sanction/Term Approval report in eJAS for participants newly referred for NCS Termination. When a participant is referred for NCS termination, the supervisor/designee:

  1. Completes ‘NCS Case Staffing - NCS Termination Supervisor Decision’ section of the NCS eJAS tool.
    1. A denial with a final denial decision selected stops the NCS process and closes the eJAS NCS tool.
    2. A denial with the pending correction reason selected (needs correction - NCS Review Criteria sent back for correction) returns the NCS eJAS tool to the WFPS/WFSSS for further action.  Supervisors/designees adds comments in the free form text box regarding what further actions the WFPS/WFSSS must take before resubmitting the NCS Case Staffing - NCS Termination Referral.
    3. An approval approves the NCS termination.

H.   Processing NCS Termination Actions-ACES 3G

If the supervisor or designee approves the NCS Termination, the WFPS:

  1. During month 10 of NCS reduction, checks the box on the Work Registration screen for "Closed while in Non-Compliance Sanction", and;
  2. Sends the adverse action notice, Termination of TANF/SFA (06-02) allowing for 10 day advanced notice:
    1. Add the following text including appropriate dates;
      • You’ve been in sanction and receiving a reduced grant for at least 10 months without meeting WF requirements. This is why your case is closing.
Note: Administrative hearing rights are automatically printed on the letter.

I.   Processing NCS Termination Actions - eJAS

The WFPS/WFSSS monitors the decision of the supervisor/designee on ‘CLMR - Clients in Sanction’ report. Once the ‘NCS Case Staffing - NCS Termination Supervisor Decision’ section of the NCS eJAS Tool has been completed, the participant has been approved or NCS Termination, and the participant’s case has been Terminated in ACES due to NCS, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Completes the ‘NCS Case Staffing - NCS Termination Actions’ section of the NCS eJAS Tool.
    1. Reviews the case to see if good cause was established during the non-compliance period. If good cause is identified selects “Sanction cured or lifted prior to NCS Termination” and the system closes the NCS eJAS Tool.
    2. Proceeds to completing the section if no “Sanction cured or lifted prior to NCS Termination” reason is identified.
    3. Denies any support services requests until the participant starts curing the non-compliance sanction.

For further information about processing non-compliance sanctions see:

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Forms & Other Resources

3.5.2 Ending Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS)

Non-Compliance Sanction Policy

Revised on: September 20, 2021

A note on transition policy: All WorkFirst participants and applicants in any non-compliance sanction status prior to July 1, 2021 have a "clean slate." This means that all WorkFirst recipients/applicants are in good standing without a requirement of a sanction "cure" for any sanction statuses prior to July 1, 2021. 

Legal References:

The Non-Compliance Sanction Policy section is divided into the following sub-sections:

  • Section 3.5.1 Entering Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) describes how to make the NCS decision.
  • Section 3.5.2 -Ending Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) describes what happens when a participant stays in NCS. 

This section includes:

  • 3.5.2.1 What happens after a case is placed in Non-Compliance sanction (NCS)?
  • 3.5.2.2 How to complete Monthly NCS Re-engagement Contact?
  • 3.5.2.3 What are the re-engagement requirements for participants in Non-Compliance Sanction?
  • 3.5.2.4 How does a participant end a Non-Compliance Sanction?
  • 3.5.2.5 How a change in circumstance may affect a participant's grant or cure requirements.
  • 3.5.2.6 What if the participant doesn't re-engage in WorkFirst after 10 months of NCS reduction? 
  • 3.5.2.7 What if the NCS reduction lasts longer than 10 months? 
  • 3.5.2.8 Ending Non-Compliance Sanction - Step-by-Step Guide

Other Related Chapters

  • 3.5.3NCS Reapplications describes how to process reapplications from NCS terminations.

3.5.2 Ending Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS)

3.5.2.1 What happens after a case is placed in Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS)?

The non-compliance sanction policy is designed to provide numerous opportunities for participants to re-engage in appropriate WorkFirst activities and address any barriers to participation. For best results, WorkFirst staff should:

  • Intervene early
  • Look for opportunities to contact participants in non-compliance and encourage engagement in WorkFirst activities.

Once the non-compliance sanction is approved, the case stays in NCS without reduction for two (2) months, followed by NCS reduction status for ten (10) months, or until the sanction is waived or cured. WorkFirst staff must continue to work with the participant to re-engage in activities and cure the NCS. 

3.5.2.2 How to complete Monthly NCS Re-engagement Contact?

WorkFirst staff must attempt to contact the participant a minimum of once a month until the NCS is waived, cured or the case closes. This contact may take the form of: 

  • A phone call
  • In-person meeting
  • NCS Re-engagement Letter
Note: The preferred form of contact is by phone or in-person.

In circumstances where staff attempt contact by phone or by scheduled appointment, but aren't successful, the NCS Re-engagement Letter should be sent in that month to ensure the participant is informed of the option to re-engage in the program. Staff must document monthly NCS re-engagement using the eJAS 'Sanction Re-Engagement Contact' note type.

If a participant is actively engaged in WorkFirst activities to end their non-compliance sanction WFPS/WFSSS aren’t required to send a NCS re-engagement letter, however, are required to attempt a phone call each month to discuss community resources, successes, or potential barriers to required participation. An in-person conversation also satisfies the monthly contact requirement. These efforts must also be documented using the eJAS 'Sanction Re-Engagement Contact' note. If the re-engagement letter is created, the system populates the letter information on the 'Sanction Re-Engagement Contact' note. 

The NCS Review Pathway Sanction Re-engagement section on the Caseload Management Report (CLMR) displays participants approved for NCS and tracks staff monthly re-engagement efforts.

3.5.2.3 What are the re-engagement requirements for participants in Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS)?

If staff make contact with a participant, the WFPS/WFSSS must offer an opportunity to re-engage with WorkFirst activities and begin their NCS cure during the documented contact.

The re-engagement process when meeting with a participant:

  • Complete or update the comprehensive evaluation using the Pathway Development Tool (WFHB 3.2.3.7) to start an NCS cure,
  • Develop an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP),
    • The IRP must reflect the activities based on current goals and circumstances identified in the comprehensive evaluation and/or assessment.
    • Doesn’t require a special "sanction IRP" just because they have entered NCS.
  • Review support services to ensure the participant has proper support to engage in required WorkFirst activities.

If the participant agrees to a NCS cure plan, the participant must comply with their existing IRP requirements for four weeks (28 days) to cure the NCS.

3.5.2.4 How does a participant end Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS)?

Once the NCS penalty is approved, the participant must start and continue to do required WorkFirst activities, as outlined in their IRP, to cure the NCS. This is true even if the participant was approved for NCS for failure to provide information or for refusing to accept a job.

The length of time required to end a sanction is referred to as the "cure period". The cure period starts on the day the participant updates or completes their comprehensive evaluation and agrees to their IRP activities. To cure the NCS, the participant must participate for four weeks (28 days) in a row. After four weeks of satisfactory participation, the NCS penalty is removed the first of the following month.

3.5.2.5 How does a change in circumstance may affect a participant's cure requirements.

If a participant reports a change of circumstance that prevents them from participating that hasn’t been previously reported, then, once verified, the NCS cure requirement may be waived. For participants receiving the NCS reduction penalty, it must be removed the first of the following month after the change of circumstances was reported.

If WorkFirst staff receive information that would warrant reversing the NCS decision, then the NCS must be removed back to the original date it was imposed. Each case should be reviewed for supplements as appropriate and must be issued following the established procedures in the EAZ Manual under "Benefit Errors: WAC 388-410-0040 Cash and food assistance underpayments."

Cure Requirement Exceptions

Waive the four-week cure requirement when the participant:

  • Enters the third trimester of pregnancy if they’ve completed a Pregnancy to Employment assessment and aren’t required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment.
  • Has a family, personal, or health issue that is severe enough that they can't participate.
  • There's family violence that's directly or significantly contributing to their inability to participate - for additional guidance, see WorkFirst Handbook 6.5.18 - Family violence and sanctions.

Example: A participant is in NCS for refusing to do job search. Below are two different scenarios with responses for each.

  1. After receiving an NCS penalty, the participant is in a car accident and is hospitalized. 

In this scenario, after the comprehensive evaluation is reviewed and updated, WorkFirst staff work with the participant to verify the circumstances, waive the four-week sanction cure requirement, and remove the NCS penalty the first of the following month. 

  1. The participant enters the third trimester of pregnancy. ​

In this scenario, the Pregnancy to Employment assessment is completed and there were no mandatory requirements. WorkFirst staff waive the four-week cure requirement and remove the sanction penalty the first of the following month. 

3.5.2.6 What if the participant doesn't re-engage in WorkFirst after 10 months of NCS reduction?

If the participant doesn't re-engage in WorkFirst and cure their sanction after 10 months of NCS reduction, their cash assistance may be terminated after the supervisor approves the NCS termination.

The WFPS closes WorkFirst cash assistance by:

  • Taking actions in ACES 3G as outlined in the ACES manual WorkFirst Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS).
  • Sends the adverse action notice (06-02 Termination of TANF/SFA) letter following the adverse action rules in the EAZ Manual and add the following information to the notice:
    • Who is receiving an NCS termination (specific participant)
    • What they didn't do
    • Adds the following text: 
      • You've been in sanction and receiving a reduced grant for at least 10 months without meeting WorkFirst requirements. This is why your case is closing. 
  • Update the NCS Termination Actions section of the eJAS NCS tool.

Staff must also make sure that the family receives other types of public assistance benefits they may qualify for, like Basic Food or Washington Apple Health. Encourage participants who file an administrative hearing and request continued benefits to re-apply and meet participation requirements in case they lose the hearing.

3.5.2.7 What if the NCS reduction lasts longer than ten months?

If an NCS reduction penalty goes beyond 10 months, input the appropriate "delay reason" code in ACES 3G.

  • FH is used when a case closure is delayed by an administrative hearing request.

3.5.2.8 Ending Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) Step-by-Step Guide

When the participant agrees to engage in WorkFirst activities to cure their sanction, WorkFirst staff:

  1. Completes the NCS re-engagement interview.
  2. Reviews and updates the comprehensive evaluation.
  3. Opens appropriate components(s) in eJAS based on the comprehensive evaluation. Keep the SA or SN code in place if requiring a four week (28 day) cure.
  4. Updates an IRP based on current goals and circumstances identified in the comprehensive evaluation/assessment.
  5. Authorizes any needed support services.
  6. Documents the contact in the eJAS Sanction Re-Engagement Contact note type. 
  7. After four weeks (28 days) of satisfactory participation is verified: 
    • Updates participation status in ACES 3G from Refused - Mandatory Participant (RE) to Mandatory Participant (MP) on the Work Registration Screen
      • Enters the sanction cure date in the 'Re-qualifying Date' field.
    • Closes the SA or SN code in eJAS be entering the CS closing code. 
  8. Completes or closes the eJAS NCS Tool. 

For further information about processing non-compliance sanctions see:

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.5.3 NCS Reapplications

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Note: If a participant re-applies, is determined financially eligible, and their case closed due to NCS Termination prior to July 1, 2021, TANF/SFA opens without any NCS penalty or cure requirement.

Legal References:

The Non-Compliance Sanction Policy section is divided in three separate sub-sections:

  • Section 3.5.1- Entering Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) describes how to make the NCS decision.
  • Section 3.5.2 - Ending Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) describes what happens when a participant stays in NCS.
  • Section 3.5.3 - NCS Reapplications describes how to process reapplications from NCS terminations. This section includes:
    • 3.5.3.1 Can a participant reapply for TANF cash assistance after Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) termination penalty?
    • 3.5.3.2 Consolidated Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) for NCS case closures.
    • 3.5.3.3 What if a participant reapplies before their case is terminated in NCS?
    • 3.5.3.4 How do I decide and track an applicant's participation requirements?
    • 3.5.3.5 What if the applicant stops participating?
    • 3.5.3.6 How is the NCS reapplication approved?
    • 3.5.3.7 What if a participant's NCS reapplication is approved and they stop participating again?
    • 3.5.3.8 NCS reapplication - step-by-step guide

3.5.3 NCS Reapplications

3.5.3.1 Can a participant reapply for TANF cash assistance after Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS) termination penalty?

A participant may reapply for TANF cash assistance or State Family Assistance by filing a new application. Unless the participant is unable to participate, they must participate 4 weeks (28 days) in a row before they are approved for cash assistance. The participant receiving the NCS penalty may be eligible for CEAP while they meet the participation requirement (see Section 3.5.3.2.)

3.5.3.2 Consolidated Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) for non-compliance sanction case closures.

Participants closed for non-compliance sanction (NCS) may qualify for CEAP. They're eligible to apply for CEAP under the same rules as other applicants.

To determine eligibility and authorize benefits follow the CEAP eligibility and procedures described under WAC 388-436-0015.

3.5.3.3 What if a participant reapplies before their case is terminated for NCS?

If TANF/SFA is closing after ten months of NCS reduction and an application is received before the NCS termination date:

  • Track the application in DMS, and
  • Attempt to contact the participant right away.
Note: Staff won't be able to input the application into ACES until the first of the following month.

After the participant completes an interview and staff determines financial eligibility, the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) determines if they're able to participate.

  • If the participant can't participate, lifts the sanction and restores full benefits the first of the following month or when all other financial eligibility criteria is met.
  • If the participant can participate, tracks 28 day NCS cure requirement.

3.5.3.4 How are an applicant's participation requirements determined and tracked?

When a participant applies after the NCS termination, the intake worker:

  • Determines financial eligibility.
  • Pends application approval for WorkFirst participation.
  • Refers the case to WorkFirst staff to find out whether the participant must participate before they receive cash.

Once that decision is made, the ACES WorkFirst Participation - TANF Pending (85-06) letter is updated as needed. Once the participant is in pending status, they appear on the 'NCS Reapplicant report' on the Caseload Management Report. Only the participant who caused the termination appears on the report.

The participant must participate, if able, four weeks (28 consecutive days) in a row before they're eligible for cash benefits.

  • The 4-week participation requirement is waived, (and the SA or SN code removed) when the participant enters the third trimester of pregnancy if they:
    • Have completed a Pregnancy to Employment assessment and;
    • Don't have a mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment requirement.
  • The requirement is waived if their situation is now severe enough that they're exempt.
  • Notify the application intake worker if the participation requirement is lifted so they can update the pend letter or approve the application.

If the participant is able to participate, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Tracks the participation in eJAS.
  • Completes a re-engagement appointment.
  • Develops the IRP with the participant and authorizes necessary support services needed to participate, such as transportation.

If both participants in a 2-parent household refused to participate and caused their case to close, both participants need to meet the 28-day participation requirement. The application shouldn't be approved until both participants meet this requirement.

Day one of participation begins when the participant completes the Re-engagement appointment and their IRP. Excused absences count towards meeting the 28-day requirement. If TANF is closing at the end of the month due to NCS termination, participation in month 10 of NCS reduction should be credited towards meeting the 4-week participation requirement. WFPS/WFSSS must follow comprehensive evaluation and Pathway Development Tool (PDT) guidelines in WorkFirst Handbook 3.2.1 and 3.2.3.7 every time a participant reapplies for benefits. 

After the comprehensive evaluation, any needed assessment, and Sanction Re-engagement interview is completed, the participant must be referred to other approved activities until the full 4 weeks (28 days) of participation is completed.

WorkFirst staff track when the four week participation requirement is met. TANF benefits start on the date the participant meets all other financial eligibility factors.

3.5.3.5 What if the applicant stops participating?

When an applicant has stopped participating, deny the application if there wasn't a good reason for interrupting participation. The applicant can contact WorkFirst staff if they want a reconsideration of the denied application.

Good cause may be established if the participant is determined unable to perform the required WorkFirst activities or if significant barriers outside their control prevented participation as described under WAC 388-310-1600(3). Good cause that may be considered include:

  • An unmet need for Equal Access (EA) Accommodation Plan
  • Limited-English Proficiency (LEP) not addressed through interpreters or translations that result in the participant not understanding what is required
  • Emergent or severe medical condition (verified by a health care professional) of the participant or a family member in their care
  • Family Violence
  • Immediate legal concerns
  • Homelessness

Non-participation because of unexcused absences isn't considered a good cause unless there is a significant circumstance outside the participant's control (such as family violence or hospitalization). This circumstance must suggest a good reason why the applicant stopped participation.

If the WFPS/WFSSS determines good cause exists, the excused days will count towards the participant's cure period. For example, a participant stops participating on March 7th, which is the 6th day of the 28-day period. On March 12th, it is determined that good reason exists and the participant will start to participate again on March 15th. March 15th is now day 14 of participation of the 28-day period.

If the WFPS/WFSSS decides that no participation is required and the participant meets an exemption criteria, approve the application if otherwise determined financially eligible.

3.5.3.6 How is the NCS reapplication approved?

When the applicant meets the participation requirement, remove the SA or SN code from eJAS and approve the application back to the date financial eligibility was met.

3.5.3.7 What if a participant's reapplication is approved and they stop participating again?

Follow the  NCS process in section 3.5.1- Entering Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS); the participant has two months of NCS without reduction and ten months of NCS reduction to complete four consecutive weeks of participation or the case closes again for NCS.

3.5.3.8 NCS Reapplication - Step-by-step guide

Applicants who closed due to the NCS Termination penalty must meet with WFPS/WFSSS to develop an IRP to complete a 4-week (28 days) WorkFirst participation requirement. Once the participant’s NCS reapplication is in pending status, they appear on the 'NCS Reapplicant report' on the Caseload Management Report. Only the participant who caused the NCS termination appear on the report.

The WFPS:

  1. Determines if the participant is able to participate.
    1. If the participant can't participate, the WFPS pends the application for financial eligibility, or approves.
    2. If the participant reapplies before the NCS termination effective date and can't participate, lifts the NCS termination and reinstates the grant effective the first of the following month.
    3. If the participant can participate:
      1. Determines financial eligibility and confirms a WF Participation - TANF pending (85-06) letter has been provided
      2. Schedules/conducts an appointment
      3. Develops an IRP
      4. Approves needed supports
      5. Tracks participation in CLMR- NCS Reapplication report.
  2. Determines if there is good cause if the participant stops participating as required. If the participant:
    1. Is no longer able to participate, they will only need to meet financial eligibility criteria.
    2. Has good cause, they will pick up participation where it left off until the 28-day requirement is met.
    3. Doesn't have good cause, denies the NCS Reapplication.
Note: If the application is denied, review the case to see if the Basic Food Benefits should be penalized under the Basic Food Program rules for failure or refusal to comply with the Basic Food E&T requirements.​
  1. Removes the SA or SN code once all participation and financial eligibility criteria are met.

For further information about processing NCS reapplications or Basic Food Work Requirements see:

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.6.1 Time Limit Extensions

 Revised on: April 11, 2022

  • All Post-Pandemic TLEs are to be approved until 6/30/2023. 

  • An applicant or recipient at or over 60-months of TANF/SFA cash assistance, meeting all other eligibility will not be denied a TLE. If the participant/applicant does not meet any other time limit hardship extension, WorkFirst staff will approve the Post-Pandemic Time Limit until 6/30/2023.

  •  WorkFirst staff will approve TLE reviews using 'Caring for a disabled adult' (category 6) in the eJAS TLE review tool.

Legal References:

TANF time limit policy has two separate sub-sections:

Section 3.6.1 Time Limit Extensions describes how to make TANF/SFA time limit extension decisions. This section includes:

  • 3.6.1.1 What is the time limit for TANF and SFA?
  • 3.6.1.2 What is the difference between the adult recipient and ineligible parent time limit?
  • 3.6.1.3 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 56 months on TANF/SFA?
  • 3.6.1.4 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 58 months on TANF/SFA?
  • 3.6.1.5 What are the time limit extension categories?
  • 3.6.1.6 How do I determine whether an ineligible parent qualifies for a disability time limit extension?
  • 3.6.1.7 Who qualifies for the family violence time limit extension?
  • 3.6.1.8 How do I know if an adult recipient parent qualifies for a child in dependency time limit extension?
  • 3.6.1.9 What is the time limit hardship extension process?
  • 3.6.1.10 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for any time limit extensions?
  • 3.6.1.11 How do I send time limit decision notices to parents?
  • 3.6.1.12 Can a parent who was denied a time limit extension request an Administrative Hearing and receive continued benefits?
  • 3.6.1.13 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent offers more time limit extension evidence before we close their case?
  • 3.6.1.14 What if an adult recipient/ineligible parent reapplies before their case closes?
  • 3.6.1.15 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent states they qualify for a time limit extension after we close their case?
  • 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Decisions - Step-by-step guide

Section 3.6.2 – Time Limit Extension Reviews describes how to maintain an approved TANF time limit extension case.

3.6.1.1 What is the time limit for TANF and SFA?

Federal law states an adult in the assistance unit can receive 60 months of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or State Family Assistance (SFA) in their lifetime. For adults who qualify for a TANF/SFA time limit hardship extension, cash assistance may extend past 60 months for up to 20 percent of the WorkFirst caseload to adults who qualify for a TANF/SFA time limit hardship extension.

State law applies the 60-month time limit to ineligible parents (SSI, disqualified or undocumented parent) during months they receive TANF/SFA for their children.  

See EA-Z manual, TANF/SFA Time Limits and Indian Country Disregard for more details about:

  • When months count towards the time limits;
  • How to add an adult recipient (but not ineligible parent)
  • Determining who qualifies for the Indian Country disregard;
  • ACES adjustments for repaid months of total ineligibility and L&I reimbursements.

ACES will send the Re-Certification letter (027-01) to an adult participant or an adult recipient/ineligible parent when they reach 48 months of cash assistance. The letter includes information on the 60-month time limit and lists all months of TANF/SFA assistance for each adult in the household, including any Tribal TANF months received. Staff determines whether the adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for a time limit hardship extension before they reach 60 months of TANF/SFA.

3.6.1.2 What is the difference between the adult recipient and ineligible parent time limit?

ACES uses the following definitions to track each adult’s 60-month limit, list each countable month as an ineligible parent or adult recipient month and indicate whether the case is closed or extended under the adult recipient or ineligible parent time limit:

  • An adult recipient is an adult who is receiving assistance in a TANF/SFA assistance unit. The adult recipient may be the parent or relative caregiver.

  • An ineligible parent is a non-recipient parent who is receiving a TANF/SFA grant for their child(ren).

Note: Adults who qualify for state-funded cash assistance as Survivors of Certain Crimes are considered recipients, though may be undocumented. They receive cash assistance in a solely state-funded, SFA assistance unit. This population increments ineligible parent months in ACES. For more information on this population, see EA-Z Manual: Citizenship and Immigration Status Requirements Specific to Program – Benefits for Survivors of Certain Crimes.

The TANF/SFA months an adult recipient/ineligible parent receives for their child(ren) counts toward their 60 month limit. The assistance unit (AU) closes once an adult recipient/ineligible parent in the AU has 60 countable TANF/SFA months unless the adult qualifies for a time limit extension.

Examples:

  • Jane received 60 months for herself and her son between 2005 and 2010. Jane’s portion of the TANF grant was terminated due to a fraud conviction, but her son continued receiving TANF. Jane doesn't qualify for a time limit extension. Under the ineligible parent time limit, we close the case using the 60 adult recipient months even though Jane is no longer a recipient in the assistance unit.
  • Matthew, an undocumented father, gets 40 ineligible parent months due to his daughter’s TANF child-only grant. Matthew becomes a citizen (adult recipient) and is added to the TANF grant for 20 months. He doesn't qualify for a time limit extension. The AU will close using the 40 ineligible parent months plus the 20 adult recipient months.
  • A mother on SSI, Leah, receives TANF for her daughter for 50 months before she gets married to Damien. Damien and daughter receive TANF for an additional 10 months. Under the ineligible parent time limit, Leah now has 60 ineligible parent months. Because Leah receives SSI, approve a disability time limit extension to keep the TANF grant open.

3.6.1.3 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 56 months on TANF/SFA?

An indicator appears in the eJAS demographic screen and the Time Limit Extension tool becomes available when an adult in the AU or ineligible parent reaches 56 months of cash assistance.

3.6.1.4 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 58 months on TANF/SFA?

An adult recipient/ineligible parent appears on the CLMR in eJAS when they reach 58 months of TANF/SFA notifying the WFPS/WFSSS the adult recipient/ineligible parent is nearing the 60-month time limit. Each parent in a two-parent household appears separately on the CLMR when they reach 58 months.

The WFPS/WFSSS schedules an appointment with the adult recipient/ineligible parent using the ACES Online General Appointment Letter (50-05) or eJAS appointment letter, to complete the time limit hardship extension between month 58 and 60. Include in the letter:

"Our records show you've used [number] months of TANF/SFA. To receive more than 60 months of TANF/SFA, you must qualify for a time limit hardship extension.  I need to meet with you on [date /time] to determine if you will qualify for a time limit hardship extension and/or review your plans for supporting your family if your case closes. You may bring a person of your choosing to the appointment.

At this appointment, we'll discuss if you have changes or updates to the following:

  • Employment
  • Family violence issues
  • Participation with the Department of Children, Youth and Families, or concerns with your child's welfare
  • Health issues for you or a family member
  • Homelessness or caring for a homeless child(ren)

We must have verification that you qualify for a time limit extension. Please bring any new verification with you; we can also help you get information that might help us approve an extension."

Give the adult recipient/ineligible parent 10 calendar days of adequate notice for the scheduled appointment.

To complete the Time Limit Hardship Extension appointment, parent may contact the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • In writing
  • By phone
  • By attending the scheduled appointment on their letter.

Note: An adult recipient/ineligible parent can ask for a different appointment time if needed.

An adult recipient/ineligible parent may waive the 10-day adequate notice and complete the time limit extension appointment if they are in the office or contact WFPS/WFSSS prior to their scheduled appointment.  

Document when an adult recipient/ineligible parent waives the 10-day notice and provide an eJAS appointment letter reflecting when the time limit extension hardship appointment occurred.

3.6.1.5 What are the time limit extension categories?

The entire assistance unit is ineligible for TANF/SFA when an adult recipient/ineligible parent in the assistance unit receives 60 months of TANF/SFA, unless the adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for a time limit hardship extension.

The entire assistance unit remains eligible for TANF/SFA if at least one parent has 60 months or more and qualifies for an extension.

Examples:
#1 Jasmine is on SSI and has received 45 months on TANF for her two children.  She marries Albert and he is added to the TANF grant.  When Jasmine reaches 60 months she will qualify for a time-limited extension and the TANF grant will continue.  When Albert reaches 60 months, they will continue to be eligible because Jasmine hit 60 months first and qualifies for the TLE as long as she is on SSI.
#2 Tommy has been on receiving TANF for himself and his son for 55 months.  He married Tina who is on SSI and has a daughter who has been on TANF for 30 months.  Tommy doesn’t qualify for a TLE and the three person TANF grant will close when Tommy’s 60 months on TANF unless he qualifies for an extension.

A caregiver relative who doesn't live with the child’s parent and has 60 months or more of TANF/SFA may choose to receive a child-only grant as allowed under WAC 388-408-0025(2)(c).  There are no time limits for child-only TANF cases except for ineligible parents.

An adult recipient/ineligible parent may qualify for a time limit extension (See #4 through #11 on the Time Limit Hardship Extension chart) when the adult recipient/ineligible parent:

  1. Qualifies for an exemption under WAC 388-310-0350; because they are:
    • A needy caretaker relative age 55 or older (#4); or
    • Applying for SSI as required in their IRP (#8); or
    • An adult with mental, physical, emotional or cognitive condition, based on medical evidence, that prevents them from working more than 10 hours per week and is expected to last 12 months or longer (#5) or,
    • Receiving SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (#5) or,
    • Caring for a child or adult with a disability (#6 or #7).
    • Homeless, living outside; in a building or other location not meant for human habitation, in a building or other location which they have no legal right to occupy, in an emergency shelter, in a temporary housing program, which may include a transitional housing program with a limited duration of stay (#14); or
    • Caring for a homeless child per McKinney-Vento criteria; focuses on the unhoused youth in the household. A youth who doesn't have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Local school districts use the McKinney-Vento definition to determine how many households are lacking a nighttime residence and provides access to resources such as free lunch, transportation, and educational supports. 
  2. Participates satisfactorily in specialized family violence activities according to a service plan developed by a person trained in family violence (#9);
  3. Has an open child welfare case with a state or tribal government and this is the first time the adult recipient/ineligible parent has had any child in dependency (#10);
  4. Works 32 hours or more per week in an unsubsidized job (#11). Use the ACES calculated number of hours for self-employment unless the person chooses to provide alternative proof from a credible, knowledgeable, reliable source to confirm self-employment hours (see WAC 388-490-0005). Please note this alternative proof doesn't affect how we determine actual hours of participation or whether we allow the adult recipient to engage in full-time employment as described in the WorkFirst Handbook 8.2, Self-employment;
  5. Is 65 years old, or older, blind as defined by the Social Security Administration or likely disabled as defined under chapter 388-449 WAC (#5).

Base the determinations for time limit extensions on whether the adult recipient/ineligible parent meets the criteria for an extension. See the Time Limit Hardship Extensions chart for more details about the extension categories, criteria, required documentation, participation requirements and review cycle.

Note: The homeless TLE extension category is open for 6 months in duration. The TLE must not be updated before the 6 month duration expires, unless the recipient/ineligible parent stops participating as required to obtain stable housing. 

Homeless TLE examples:

1. Rita was approved for a 6-month TLE due to experiencing homelessness. She participated with her local coordinated entry and obtained housing three months into her TLE. Rita reported to her WFPS she established housing at the third month. Her WFPS let her know she had three months remaining left in her extension, and at month 6, unless she meets another hardship TLE category, her grant will close.

2. Steven was approved for a TLE due to experiencing homelessness. At month 6, Steven was still unable to find housing. He met with his WFPS, completed a new time limit extension review. He was engaging in activities to locate stable housing and met the homeless TLE for an additional 6 months. A new IRP was developed with his WFPS to continue to participate in activities to secure stable housing.

Note: An adult recipient/ineligible parent may qualify for more than one time limit extension at a time. WFPS/WFSSS reviews the case and marks all extensions that apply to the adult recipient/ineligible parent in the eJAS time limit tool and eJAS will use the extension with the longest duration to extend TANF/SFA.
eJAS uses any other approved extension if an adult recipient/ineligible parent no longer qualifies for the longest duration time limit extension.

Homeless TLE examples for households who are homeless or caring for a homeless child as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act: 

  • Children and youth sharing housing due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason
  • Children and youth living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations
  • Children and youth living in emergency or transition shelters
  • Children and youth whose nighttime residences such as but not limited to; 
    • cars
    • parks
    • public spaces
    • abandoned buildings
    • substandard housing 

Examples: 

  1. Maria is homeless, staying in a storage shed at night with her two children on a friend's property. Maria is applying for a caring for a homeless TLE due to McKinney-Vento, as a needy household. She declares she doesn't have a permanent nightly residence, her school district verifies her daughter meets McKinney-Vento eligibility. She is approved for a homeless TLE hardship for 6 months. She develops an IRP with her case manager for housing related activities to establish safe and stable housing. 
  2. Jada and her two children, Cory and Mikal are living in a shelter, they meet McKinney-Vento criteria due to an unstable nightly residence. She is approved for a homeless TLE hardship. She develops an IRP with her case manager for housing related activities to establish safe and stable housing. 
  3. Fatima lost her job and had to move in with her parents. Her son, Muhamad meets McKinney-Vento due to sharing housing with Fatima's parents, due to an economic hardship. She develops an IRP with her case manager for housing related activities to establish safe and stable housing and any stackable activity to obtain employment or employment related activities. 
  4. Jose is an undocumented father of two children and one niece. He has exhausted 60 months of TANF and is only applying for his niece, Blanca, due to her moving in with him. Blanca's family is seeking housing but can't have her living in their current unstable location. Jose may be approved for a TLE due to his niece, Blanca meeting the McKinney-Vento criteria. A TLE tool needs to be completed, using the caring for a homeless child TLE hardship extension category. Jose doesn't have an IRP due to being a non-needy caretaker relative. 

TANF/SFA ends when an adult recipient/ineligible parent no longer meets time limit extension criteria or TANF/SFA eligibility criteria during the hardship time limit extension.

3.6.1.6 How do I determine whether an ineligible parent qualifies for a disability time limit extension?

Note: WorkFirst support services can’t pay for medical evidence for any undocumented or fraud-disqualified individual (parent, caregiver, or disabled child/adult relative). Funds are available in ICMS to purchase medical evidence for undocumented or fraud-disqualified individuals. Don’t pay for more medical evidence than is needed to determine time limit extension eligibility.

For example, the adult recipient/ineligible parent may be able to access free clinics, or, if the parent is already seeing a doctor, the WFPS/WFSSS can purchase a report instead of a full medical exam.

Give the adult recipient/ineligible parent the Missing Verification for Interview (0023-01) pend letter requesting medical evidence using the same timeframes used for all other time limit cases with the following text:

“You must provide documentation of your [or your child or adult relative’s] mental, physical, emotional or cognitive impairment and your ability to engage in work from a source such as one of the primary medical professionals or supplemental medical evidence described in WAC 388-447-0005.

Medical documentation must include:

  • Your [or your child’s or adult relative’s] diagnosis,
  • How long your [or your child’s or adult relative’s] impairment is expected to last; and
  • Whether you are able to engage in work or work-like activities for 10 hours or less per week or 11 hours or more per week.”

WFPS/WFSSS signs into Barcode to access the ICMS subsystem and uses the 06030 ineligible parent medical evidence code to pay for medical evidence when they receive the required medical evidence. The system uses the same medical evidence fee schedule as Aged, Blind and Disabled (ABD) program. See the Social Services Manual – Medical Evidence Requirements and Fee Schedule section and the Ineligible Parent Medical Evidence Desk Aid for more information on how to process these payments.

3.6.1.7 Who qualifies for the family violence time limit extension?

When an adult recipient/ineligible parent with 60 months of TANF/SFA declares family violence issues, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Documents the family violence in eJAS,
  2. Obtains a family violence service plan created by someone trained in family violence, and
  3. Monitors the case to ensure the adult recipient/ineligible parent is following their family violence service plan.

Use the same verification requirements as the Division of Child Support (DCS) Good Cause process to document the family violence. Verification may include one of the following:

  • Completed 18-334(X) or other signed statement from the victim, outlining fears and/or concerns,
  • Civil/criminal court orders (domestic violence protection order, restraining orders, no-contact orders),
  • Medical, police, or court reports, or
  • Written statement from clergy, friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers.

Document family violence information in the eJAS family violence note type (but not on any eJAS or ACES letters). Offer a referral to the on-site or community based family violence advocate (or pro bono services, as available, for ineligible parents).

Follow the same requirements as DCS Good Cause to document a family violence issue but the adult recipient/ineligible parent may pursue the time limit extension without filing a DCS Good Cause claim.  Encourage the adult recipient/ineligible parent to request DCS Good Cause if establishing and/or collecting cash and/or medical support may result in serious physical or emotional harm to the child or adult recipient/ineligible parent.  

An adult recipient/ineligible parent must follow a family violence service plan developed by a person trained in family violence to be eligible for the family violence time limit extension. An on-site advocate or a trained WFPS/WFSSS can create a family violence plan.

Note: A family may qualify for the family violence time limit extension with past or current family violence. A parent doesn't have to be in immediate danger to qualify for a family violence time limit extension.

An adult recipient/ineligible parent living with an abuser may be approved for a family violence time limit extension. Develop a family violence service plan the adult recipient/ineligible parent can follow safely if living with the abuser.  Connect the adult recipient/ineligible parent to an on-site or local family violence advocate where appropriate for the family’s safety.

Family violence can also occur in a two-parent assistance unit. Use office protocol to interview parents separately (see WFHB 6.5.6). WFPS/WFSSS should omit any direct references to family or domestic violence in eJAS notes or the IRP for confidentiality.

An adult recipient/ineligible parent can complete a family violence service plan with a family violence advocate whenever possible. They can also complete a temporary service plan requiring a service plan within 30 days of creating a temporary plan (up to 90 days with a supervisor approval).  A WFPS/WFSSS trained in family violence can complete the plan if the adult recipient/ineligible parent does not want to complete a plan with a family violence advocate. The family violence service plan must be listed in the IRP as a condition of remaining eligible for a family violence time limit extension.

Create a reasonable and safe plan for ineligible parents, drawing on locally available resources. See Ineligible Parents' Family Violence Plans for more information. Document the ineligible parents' family violence plan in eJAS family violence case notes.

See the Social Services manual, Good Cause chapter, and the WorkFirst Handbook, Section 6.5, Family Violence, for more information about DCS Good Cause verification requirements and family violence.

3.6.1.8 How do I know if an adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for a child in dependency time limit extension?

Contact the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to determine if the family has an open child welfare case and work collaboratively with them to address the family needs from both the child welfare system and the WorkFirst program. For a family who may have an open tribal child welfare case, send the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s name and eJAS ID to WorkFirst program managers Sarah Mintzer with a cc to Jennie Fitzpatrick to determine eligibility for the extension.

Approve an adult recipient/ineligible parent for a child in dependency time limit extension if:

  • It is the first-time any of the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s children are in court ordered dependency, and
  • There is an anticipated DCYF case closure of six months or less.
Note: This time period can cover any concurrent benefit period and six-month follow up while DCYF continues to work with the family.
Note: Voluntary placements or shelter care status doesn't qualify for the extension.

Document in eJAS any DCYF/tribal child welfare court ordered dependency considerations or actions and the actions taken on case including forwarding tribal child welfare cases to WorkFirst headquarters staff.

DCYF or tribal child welfare involved families may be required to do counseling or treatment activities to help keep their families together. Add these activities as WorkFirst participation requirements appropriately.

Involve DCYF or tribal child welfare in case staffings, assessments, and any intensive work with the family during a child dependency time limit extension to create joint plans that will meet the family’s needs.

3.6.1.9 What is the time limit hardship extension process?

The WFPS/WFSSS determines if the adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for a time limit hardship extension. The WFPS/WFSSS are approved to authorize WorkFirst support services for ineligible parents per WAC 388-310-0800(1)(a).

Prior to the TLE appointment, review the case for evidence of potential eligibility for a time limit extension and identify:

  • Medical evidence received in the past 12 months for the adult recipient/ineligible parent, their child or adult relative who is living in the home
  • SSI applications, even if it’s an application filed by the adult on their own
  • Receipt of SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance Payments for ineligible parents
  • A history of family violence
  • A history of child welfare involvement
  • Current employment
  • Living status, is the recipient/ineligible parent experiencing homelessness

Determine time limit eligibility during the time limit extension appointment by:

  • Reviewing adult recipient/ineligible parent’s current information in case record
  • Completing the eJAS time limit tool with the adult recipient/ineligible parent (if present)
  • Discussing the TANF time clock with the adult recipient/ineligible parent to confirm accurate TANF months
  • Discussing the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s plan for supporting their family if TANF/SFA terminates at 60 months
  • Explaining additional support to the family such as:
    • Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) if applicant is pregnant
    • Transitional Food Assistance (TFA)
    • On-going medical
    • WCCC
    • Child support
    • Community resources
    • CEAP benefits that are available due to the 60-month lifetime limit
Note: If necessary, explain the process for obtaining additional medical or other needed evidence.
Note: If the adult recipient/ineligible parent is age 65 years or older or blind, approve the time limit hardship extension.

When reviewing the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s medical evidence, if it doesn't meet the WorkFirst severity and duration requirements, refer adult recipient/ineligible parent to the TLE disability evaluation process using the Disability Determination section of the Social Services Manual.  See the Using the Sequential Evaluation Process (SEP) for TANF TLE Desk Aid for WorkFirst (for staff use only) for detailed steps.

For each adult recipient/ineligible parent, the eJAS time limit extension tool must be completed. Please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions- Step-by-step guide for complete process. 

When an adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't meet the criteria for an extension, generate a time limit extension denial letter after completing the eJAS tool. Add the appropriate text to the time limit denial letter using the eJAS template text or as shown on the Time Limit Hardship Extensions chart describing the evidence the WFPS/WFSSS took into consideration when making the TLE decision. Notify the adult recipient/ineligible parent if they only meet some of the criteria needed to qualify. Save the eJAS denial letter or print for translation, if needed. Don’t mail the letter until the adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 60 months of TANF/SFA assistance to ensure the worker mails the eJAS and ACES letters are mailed at the same time. 

Note:  Don't document an adult recipient/ineligible parent's history of family violence in the eJAS letter to maintain their confidentiality and safety.

When an adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for an extension, eJAS automatically enters the time limit extension code(s) 4-11 in the time limit extension tool. When an adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for more than one time limit extension, ACES automatically allows the longest extension. When both parents have 60 months or more on a two-parent TANF/SFA AU, and one is approved for an extension while the other is denied, approval overrides the denial in ACES and TANF/SFA remains open for the entire AU. The ACES notice reflects the information for the approved time limit extension.

Enter the time limit decision into eJAS before the end of an adult recipient/ineligible parent’s 60 months, whenever possible, to avoid overpayments. ACES generates a 10-day notice in month 60 to close or extend TANF/SFA assistance based on the time limit extension decision. See 3.6.1.11, How do I send the time limit decision notices to the adult recipient/ineligible parent, for additional processing instructions.

3.6.1.10 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for any time limit extensions?

When an adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for a time limit extension, provide the following information regarding additional support to the family:

  • Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) if applicant is pregnant
  • Transitional Food Assistance (TFA)
  • Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET),
  • On-going medical,
  • WCCC,
  • Child support,
  • Community resources, and
  • CEAP benefits that are available due to the 60-month lifetime limit

If necessary, explain the process for obtaining additional medical or other needed evidence.

Add explanatory text to the eJAS time limit decision letter when there isn't enough evidence to qualify for a time limit extension. View the Time Limit Hardship Extensions chart.

If the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for an extension, eJAS passes information to ACES on a real-time basis and enters the extension reason 13 in ACES. Cases close once reason 13 is in eJAS, populated in ACES and the parent has reached 60-months.

ACES generates a 10-day notice to close the case by the end of the 60th month and an extension denial is in the eJAS time limit tool. See 3.6.1.11, How do I send the time limit decision notices to the adult recipient/ineligible parent, for additional processing instructions.

3.6.1.11 How do I send the time limit decision notices to an adult recipient/ineligible parent?

Process and send out English ACES and eJAS denial notices in one envelope. Approved time limit extension require no action. ACES generates and, as needed, translates the approval notices.

Translated time limit denial letters require the following action:

  • WFPS/WFSSS prints, translates and holds the eJAS denial notice after the time limit appointment without sending the translation to Barcode for imaging.
  • WFPS receives a tickle in Barcode when an ACES Termination Letter (006-02 Termination of TANF/SFA) generates and requires action.
  • If the ACES letter is in a supported language, staff:
    • Sends a copy of the translated eJAS time limit denial letter to Barcode for imaging.
    • Locally prints the ACES letter and mails it to the adult recipient/ineligible parent with the original translated eJAS denial letter in one envelope.
    • Documents in eJAS time limit note type, English and translated letters manually mailed out together from local office.
    • Clears the tickle in Barcode.
Note: When the ACES letter is in a non-supported language, the ACES letter requires translation following the translation process.

3.6.1.12 Can an adult recipient/ineligible parent who was denied a time limit extension request an Administrative Hearing and receive continued benefits?

An adult recipient/ineligible parent may request an administrative hearing if they receive 60 months of TANF/SFA and their case terminates, or they don’t agree with the months used towards their 60-month lifetime limit.

When an adult recipient/ineligible parent is eligible for continued benefits per the EAZ manual, Fair Hearing- Pending Continued Benefits, the Administrative Hearing Coordinator notifies the WFPS/WFSSS to approve an administrative hearing (#12) time limit extension in the eJAS time limit tool. Use the first month the case will remain open pending an administrative hearing decision as the start date in the eJAS tool, approve the extension in three-month increments and reinstate the case. ACES keeps the case open and sends a notice.

The Administrative Hearing Coordinator conducts the hearing and finalizes the decision, processing the case per the EAZ Manual, Fair Hearing-The Decision.

  • If the DSHS’s decision isn't upheld at the administrative hearing, WorkFirst staff:
    • Modifies the TANF/SFA months on the 3G Time Clock page when the ALJ modifies the month count, or
    • Enters the ALJ-approved time limit extension as of the first of the month of the ALJ decision date in the eJAS time limit tool.
    • Approves the extension for the maximum allowed review period. For example, if the ALJ approves a family violence time limits extension on June 10, staff will approve the extension for six months (June 1 through December 31).
  • If the adult recipient/ineligible parent receives continued benefits and the department decision is upheld at the administrative hearing, WFPS creates a new eJAS time limit extension tool with the time limit extension code 13. The Administrative Hearing Coordinator recalculates eligibility and adds the following language to the ACES termination letter in the free form text box:

"You requested an administrative hearing on [date] to contest [your TANF months/TANF time limit extension denial]. We continued TANF benefits on your case pending an administrative hearing decision. The Department's action was upheld on [date] and you no longer qualify for TANF continued benefits. WAC 388-418-0020 and 388-458-0040."

3.6.1.13 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent offers more time limit extension evidence before we close their case?

An adult recipient/ineligible parent’s circumstances may change or the adult recipient/ineligible parent may be able to provide more evidence of time limit extension eligibility. Examples could include the following; a medical condition may worsen, they may disclose family violence, they may become homeless, or they may increase their hours at work.

When an adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for a time limit extension and offers more or new evidence before we close their case:

  1. Document the contact and type of new circumstances or evidence offered in eJAS time limit note type.
  2. Create an IRP to request additional information within 10 days or by no later than the last day of the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s 60th month on TANF/SFA. Use a Missing Verification for Interview (0023-01) pend letter.
  3. Offer to schedule an appointment with the adult recipient/ineligible parent if they want to meet to discuss the situation.

Once the new evidence is received, re-determine eligibility for a time limit hardship extension. If the parent fails to provide the requested information by the date on the IRP or a Missing Verification for Interview (0023-01) pend letter, review the case and determine eligibility based on the information in the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s case record.

Use the eJAS time limit extension tool to document the decision. Translate the eJAS time limit extension decision letter as needed, adding any needed details per the eJAS time limit denial letter template or the time limit hardship extension chart, if the adult recipient/ineligible parent remains ineligible.

3.6.1.14 What if an adult recipient/ineligible parent reapplies before their case closes?

An adult recipient/ineligible parent may choose to reapply for benefits before their TANF case closes due to time limits. WorkFirst staff obtains necessary information for TANF or Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) eligibility immediately.

Further steps are taken by the WFPS/WFSSS below:

  • Ensures adult recipient/ineligible parent provides proof of pregnancy and the estimated due date if adult recipient/ineligible parent is pregnant.
  • Must complete a TANF Time Limit Extension with the PWA eligible applicant to screen for any further TLE hardship criteria.
    • If no hardship criteria is met, the TLE Supervisory Review Process must be followed. See WFHB section 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions - Step-by-step guide for steps for the TLE Supervisory Review Process.  
    • If the PWA applicant does not meet a TLE hardship category after the case was sent for a TLE Supervisory Review, then the applicant will be approved for PWA.
  • If the PWA applicant meets a TLE hardship category, approve TANF cash benefits.

See WFHB section 6.2.7 Assessment Step-by-step for next steps for the WFPS to assess the PWA applicant if approved for PWA cash assistance.

Note see the Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) process flow chart in resources for visual support of the PWA process.    

3.6.1.15 What happens when an adult recipient/ineligible parent states they qualify for a time limit extension after we close their case?

An adult recipient/ineligible parent may reapply for cash assistance after termination of benefits due to time limits, including when they have new evidence or a change of circumstance (e.g., a new, serious medical condition) that may qualify them for a time limit extension.

The WFPS/WFSSS completes the following steps:

  1. Treats the application in the same manner as any other TANF application.
  2. Completes a family violence screening along with the time limit interview and the intake interview.
  3. Discusses the living situation to determine if there are housing barriers for the adult recipient/ineligible parent.
  4. If the parent doesn't qualify for a time limit extension, denies the time limit extension tool in eJAS. 
    1. If the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s case terminated for another reason and the adult recipient/ineligible parent was eligible for an extension, reviews to ensure they still meet the extension criteria.  Another eJAS time limit tool is  not needed.
    2. Determines eligibility for the Pregnant Women’s Assistance (PWA) if the adult recipient/ineligible parent is pregnant.
  5. Gives the parent a pending letter for any information needed to determine financial, disability and time limit extension eligibility. Completes the comprehensive evaluation, using the Pathway Development Tool (PDT) if the adult recipient is likely to qualify for TANF, including those the WFPS/WFSSS expects to meet the time limit extension criteria.
  6. Uses the WorkFirst support services, categories 34 (testing/diagnostic) and/or 37 (medical exams/services) or Washington Apple Health (if services are available in the area) to pay for necessary medical evidence for adult recipients as described in WFHB 6.6, Disabilities, How do I pay for medical evidence.
    1. See section 3.6.1.6 for ineligible parents.
  7. If adult recipient/ineligible parents claiming mental or physical health issues don’t qualify for a time limit extension with current medical evidence, refers the  adult recipient/ineligible parent to a disability specialist for the Sequential Evaluation Process (SEP) for TANF TLE.
    1. The disability specialist communicates to WF staff  the TLE determination after receiving medical evidence for the SEP process.
  8. Denies the extension in the eJAS time limit tool (please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extensions- Step-by-step guide) and the application remains in pending status if their TANF time limit extension eligibility can't be determined without further information from the disability specialist.
  9. Once the time limit decision is received from the disability specialist, and a determination is made through the SEP process, uses the eJAS time limit tool to document the time limit extension decision.
  10. If the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for an extension, adds appropriate free form text from the eJAS denial letter template, or the Time Limit Hardship Extension Chart, to the ACES denial letter explaining why the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for an extension (No separate eJAS time limit denial letter is required).
  11. Sends a separate ACES approval letter when the adult recipient qualifies for PWA due to pregnancy, (with cut and paste language, HEN Referral for PWA Participants,) found in Barcode, or HEN due to incapacity.

If approved for PWA cash assistance the WFPS:

  1. Approves PWA cash assistance.
  2. Adds canned text "HEN Referral for PWA Participants" to ACES approval letter.
  3. Advises the recipient that they will be referred to a WFSSS for a First Steps Assessment.
  4. Refers the recipient to @SSQ for the PWA recipient to be seen by a WorkFirst Social Service Specialist.
  5. Completes the 14-084 referral form in Barcode adding that PWA application is finalized to be seen by a WFSSS.

The WFSSS:

  1. Creates a Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) referral letter, (PWA Housing and Essential Needs Referral, 10-651,) in Barcode.
  2. Gives the referral letter to the PWA recipient.
  3. Completes a First Steps assessment with the PWA recipient per WFHB Chapter, 6.2 Assessment.

3.6.1.16 Time Limit Decision- Step-by-step guide

Prior to interview/appointment:

  1. The adult recipient/ineligible parent receives a prominently displayed notice of the months of TANF receipt on the recertification notice as they approach 48 months on TANF/SFA.
  2. Once the adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 56 months on TANF, the eJAS demographic screen updates and the WFPS/WFSSS has access to the eJAS time limit tool to process a decision.
  3. Once the adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 58 months on TANF/SFA, the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s case appears on the CLMR indicating a required time limit extension decision by the end of month 58 (when possible) and no later than the end of month 60.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS sends an ACES Online 50-05, General Appointment Letter or the eJAS appointment letter and:
    • Notifies the adult recipient/ineligible parent when they will reach 60 months and the need for a time limit extension decision, and
    • Gives the adult recipient/ineligible parent at least 10 business days' notice, to come to the scheduled appointment. The adult recipient/ineligible parent can waive the appointment and complete the time limit interview sooner. Document in the TLE tool, the adult recipient/ineligible parent waived the 10 business days' notice, over the phone or in person.
    • In the letter canned text, needs to be added, the adult recipient/ineligible parent "has the ability to bring a person of their choosing to the appointment."
  5. WFPS/WFSSS adds AP component with end date to match scheduled TLE appointment. 

At the Time Limit Extension appointment, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Explains the TANF/SFA time limit policy.
  2. Reviews the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s TANF/SFA months for accuracy, including the adult recipient/ineligible parent's out of state or tribal TANF months.
  3. Discusses the available supports, such as transitional food or medical, for those who don’t qualify for a time limit extension and provides the adult recipient/ineligible parent a list of community resources.
  4. Uses the Time Limit Hardship Extension Chart to determine whether the adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for one or more extensions.
  5. Makes the TLE decision based on the evidence available, and requests any additional necessary evidence for a hardship determination using an IRP (or a Missing Verification for Interview pend letter (0023-01) for ineligible parents).
  6. If approval for a TLE hardship is found, answers 'Yes' for question #5 of the TLE tool. This approves the case and completes the eJAS time limit extension tool. 
  7. If the TLE determines no hardship is found, answers 'No' for questions #5 of the TLE tool, enters the start date of extension and selects save.
    1. A pop-up in eJAS displays, stating the case goes to a supervisor/designee for review/and or approval of the denial.
    2. The WFPS/WFSSS selects 'ok' on the pop-up display. 
    3. The TLER goes into pending status and the supervisor/designee sees the case on the TLE Decision Report in eJAS to make the determination. 
    4. Documents in the note type Time Limit Extension, the TLE is pending for a supervisor/designee decision prior to termination/denial of benefits.  

At the Time Limit Extension review, the supervisor or designee:

  1. Reviews the TLE Decision Report in eJAS to find pending cases needing a TLE hardship review.
  2. Uses the Time Limit Hardship Extension chart to review the case to determine if there are any barrier or needs that might support a TLE approval.
  3. Looks in the ECR for medical evidence, returned mail, or further correspondence from the adult recipient/ineligible parent that might determine if the participant is eligible for a TLE approval.  

If the supervisor/designee agrees with the No Extension decision:

1. In the TLE Decision section, within the eJAS TLE tool, reviews and checks all of the boxes below in agreement

  • Letters sent timely
  • Correct canned text in the letter
  • No mail was returned
  • No medical evidence in ECR within the last 12 months
  • No Family Violence issues have been determined
  • Equal Access Plan has been followed
  • CE created/updated within the last 12 months
  • Social Service Assessment has been completed
  • Participant does not meet any hardship categories 

2. Adds notes in the "comments" section at the bottom of the tool, stating the TLE has been reviewed and they agree with the no extension for termination/denial of benefits.

  • When the "agree" button is selected, after checking all of the boxes mentioned above. 
    • A pop-up populates, prompting the supervisor/designee to select 'ok'.

3. When 'ok' is selected the case will appear on the CLMR section #2- TLE No Extension report for the WFPS/WFSSS to complete the final actions on the case. 

Note: the TLER status changes from 'pending' to 'agree-print letter' (in the TLE tool for the WFPS/WFSSS to complete.) 

 Once the TLE has been reviewed and the supervisor/designee agrees with the termination/denial the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Utilize the CLMR section #2 TLE No Extension report in the Decision column for 'agree-print letter' decisions. 
  • Select date in the Created Date column
  • Select the 'Print Time Limit Extension letter' 
    • The letter only generates when dates are added
    • Select 'Preview'
    • Select 'Save Print'
Note: The letter must be printed from the TLER and sent to the adult recipient/ineligible parent to terminate/deny the TLE. If the WFPS/WFSSS does any of the following actions, the letter will not print and a decision will generate regardless and the TANF will be terminated/denied for No Extension.  

If the WFPS/WFSSS hits the back button while in the Time Limit Extension Determination letter before printing the letter or,

  • Goes back to home 
  • Goes to the main screen
Printing prompts the systems to close out the benefits.

If the supervisor/designee disagrees with the denial:

In the TLE Decision section in eJAS, within the TLE tool, reviews and checks applicable boxes:

  • Checks the "disagree" button.
  • If the denial is not approved the box/es left "unchecked" is the reason(s) the supervisor/designee disagrees with the denial.
  • Adds a case note stating TLE denial has been reviewed and disagrees with the denial decision in eJAS. 

Once the TLE has been reviewed and the supervisor/designee disagrees with the termination/denial the WFPS/WFSSS: 

  • Utilize the CLMR section #2 TLE No Extension report in the Decision column for 'disagree' decision.
  • Select date of the Created Date column
    • Completes the following case actions;
    • Goes to the TLE tool for the specific case, reviews the decision made by the supervisor/designee.
  • The WFPS/WFSSS determines the following steps;
    • To approve the TLE or,
    • Schedules an appointment with the adult recipient/ineligible parent to address what was missed in the TLE process.

The supervisor/designee's decision shows by the unchecked box in the TLE tool stating what was missed in the TLE process. For example if the following boxes were left unchecked they need to be followed up on by the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Letters sent timely
  • Correct canned text in the letter
  • No mail was returned
  • No medical evidence in the ECR within the last 12 months
  • No Family Violence issues have been determined
  • Equal Access Plan has been followed
  • CE created/updated within the last 12 months
  • Social Service Assessment has been completed
  • Participant does not meet any hardship categories

After the Time Limit Extension interview/appointment, the WFPS/WFSSS: 

  • Refers the adult recipient/ineligible parent for a TLE disability evaluation when available medical evidence doesn't meet the severity or duration requirements for the disabled adult TANF/SFA exemption. 

The disability specialist:

If the disability specialist determines the adult recipient/ineligible parent's condition doesn't meet ABD criteria the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Completes the TLE tool and the case is referred to the supervisor/designee if a denial is recommended. Please see the steps above for the denial process. 
  • Approves the TLE, using the XB reason code. 
  • Documents the evidence used to make the decision in the free form text box of the eJAS time limit tool, using language from the eJAS time limit denial letter template or the Time Limit Hardship Extension chart if the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for a time limit extension. 
  • Saves the letter. Or, for non-English letters, print, translate and hold (without imaging in DMS) the Time Limit Decision Letter. If the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for an extension, eJAS will enter the information on the ACES TWEP Screen and ACES automatically creates the 10-day notice to extend or close TANF/SFA when the adult recipient/ineligible parent reaches 60 months.
    • During month 60, ACES sends out extension approvals and English extension denial letters. When receiving a Barcode tickle for extension denial letters needing translation, the WFPS/WFSSS:
      • Sends a copy of the translated eJAS denial letter for imaging.
      • Translates the ACES termination notice if it’s in a non-supported language.
      • Locally prints and mails the translated ACES and eJAS letters to the adult recipient/ineligible parent in one envelope.
      • Documents that the letters were sent in the eJAS time limit note type.
      • Clears the Barcode tickle.
  • Determines time limit extension eligibility decision based on available information if the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't show up for the time limit extension appointment. Please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions- Step-by-step guide for the complete process. 

When the adult recipient/ineligible parent offers additional evidence before their case closes, the WFSSS/WFPS:

  1. Documents the adult recipient/ineligible parent contact and type of new evidence received in the eJAS time limit note type.
  2. Uses the IRP (or a Missing Verification for Interview (0023-01) pend letter for ineligible parents) to request additional information within 10 days, or no later than the last day of the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s 60th month.
  3. Schedules an appointment if the adult recipient/ineligible parent wants to meet and discuss the updated information.
  4. Uses the new medical evidence to determine eligibility for a time limit hardship extension.
  5. Makes the decision based on existing information in the case if the adult recipient/ineligible parent fails to provide new evidence by the required date.
  6. Uses the eJAS time limit tool to determine eligibility for a time limit extension and document the decision. Please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions- Step-by-step guide for the complete process. 
  7. After the supervisory review, the WFPS/WFSSS completes the TLE tool and prints and translates the eJAS time limit decision letter, as needed (adding any needed details per the Time Limit Hardship Extension chart).

When a former adult recipient/ineligible parent states they qualify for a time limit extension after their case closes, they need to reapply. The WFPS/WFSSS uses the application process and:

  1. Completes a family violence screening along with the time limit interview and the intake interview.
  2. Discusses the living situation to determine if there are housing barriers for the adult recipient/ineligible parent.
  3. Approves (if documentation is available and meets the TLE hardship criteria.)
  4. If the adult recipient/ ineligible parent doesn't qualify for a time limit extension, follow the WFHB section 3.6.1.16. 
  5. After the supervisor/designee reviews, and agrees with the denial, the WFPS/WFSSS denies the time limit extension tool in eJAS.
    1. If the adult recipient/ineligible parent’s case is terminated for another reason and the recipient/ineligible parent was eligible for an extension, review to ensure they still meets the extension criteria.  Another eJAS time limit tool completion is not needed.
    2. Determines eligibility for Pregnant Woman’s Assistance (PWA) if the parent is pregnant.
  6. Gives them a pending letter for any information needed to determine financial, disability and time limit extension eligibility. Complete the CE if the adult recipient/ineligible parent is likely to qualify for TANF, including those the WFPS/WFSSS expects to meet the time limit extension criteria.
  7. Uses WorkFirst support services, categories 34 (testing/diagnostic) and/or 37 (medical exams/services) or Washington Apple Health (if services are available in the area) to pay for necessary medical evidence for recipient/ineligible parents as described in WFHB 6.6, Disabilities, How do I pay for medical evidence.
    1. See section 3.6.1.6 for ineligible parents.
  8. If adult recipient/ineligible parents claiming mental or physical health issues don’t qualify for a time limit extension with current medical evidence, refer adult recipient/ineligible parent to a disability specialist for the Sequential Evaluation Process (SEP) for TANF TLE.

    1. The WFPS/WFSSS follows the TLE supervisor/designee process in 3.6.1.16 and denies the extension in the eJAS time limit tool. 
Note: The disability specialist follows the instructions in the Social Services Manual – PWA or disability determination if the adult recipient/ineligible parent is pregnant or claims a mental or physical health issue prevents them from working, to determine ABD eligibility, and communicates the determination to WF staff.

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Follows the WFHB section 3.6.1.16, to refer the denial to a supervisor/designee for further review. 
  2. If an approval is the decision the WFPS/WFSSS uses the XB reason code, if the adult recipient/ineligible parents condition does meet ABD criteria.  
  3. Approves the TLE, using the XB reason code, if the adult recipient/ineligible parent's condition does meet ABD criteria.

After the supervisor/designee review, if the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't qualify for an extension the WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Adds the appropriate free form text from the eJAS denial letter template or the Time Limit Hardship Extension Chart to the ACES denial letter explaining, their case was reviewed by the case manager, a supervisor and/or a regional designee, and why the adult recipient/ineligible parent does not qualify for an extension. No separate eJAS time limit extension denial letter required.
  2. Sends a separate ACES approval letter when the adult recipient qualifies for PWA due to pregnancy with the canned text from Barcode, titled "HEN Referral for PWA Participants."
  3. Creates a Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) referral letter, (PWA Housing and Essential Needs Referral, 10-651,) in Barcode.
  4. Gives the referral letter to the PWA recipient.
  5. Completes a First Steps assessment with the PWA recipient, per WFHB Chapter, 6.2 Assessment.  

If the adult recipient/ineligible parent files an administrative hearing because benefits are terminated and qualifies for continued benefits:

  1. The worker processing the administrative hearing request notifies the WFPS/WFSSS.
  2. The WFSSS/WFPS enters continued benefits due to the administrative hearing into the eJAS time limit tool to continue cash aid.
  3. If the ALJ rules in favor of the adult recipient/ineligible parent, process the ALJ approved extension into the eJAS time limit tool.
  4. If the department’s decision is upheld by the ALJ, close the administrative extension and enter specialized text into the ACES termination notice.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Forms & Other Resources

3.6.2 Time Limit Extension Reviews

Revised on: April 11, 2022

  • All Post-Pandemic TLEs are to be approved until 6/30/2023. 

  • An applicant or recipient at or over 60-months of TANF/SFA cash assistance, meeting all other eligibility will not be denied a TLE. If the participant/applicant does not meet any other time limit hardship extensions, WorkFirst staff will approve the Post-Pandemic Time Limit Extension until 6/30/2023.

  • WorkFirst staff will approve TLE reviews using 'Caring for a disabled adult' (category 6) in the eJAS TLE review tool.

Legal References:

The TANF time limit policy is divided in two separate sub-sections:

Section 3.6.1 – Time Limit Extensions describes how to make TANF/SFA time limit extension decisions.

Section 3.6.2 - Time Limit Extension Reviews how to maintain the case once a TANF time limit extension is approved. This section includes:

  • 3.6.2.1 What happens when the adult recipient/ineligible parent no longer qualifies for a time limit extension?
  • 3.6.2.2 What happens when the adult recipient/ineligible parent with a time limit extension stops participating as required?
  • 3.6.2.3 What happens when the adult recipient/ineligible parent with an approved family violence time limit extension stops participating as required in their family violence service plan?
  • 3.6.2.4 What happens when the adult recipient/ineligible parent with an approved homeless time limit extension stops participating in activities to obtain stable housing?
  • 3.6.2.5 How do I process the case when a time limit extension is about to expire?
  • 3.6.2.6 Approved Time Limit Extensions – Step-by-step guide

3.6.2.1 What happens when the adult recipient/ineligible parent no longer qualifies for a time limit extension?

An adult recipient/ineligible parent’s circumstances may change once they are approved for a time limit extension.  For example, WFPS/WFSSS is notified on the CLMR that the parent’s employment hours have changed and dropped below 32 hours per week.  Or, a child dependency issue may be resolved.

Follow the normal financial change and reporting rules when a change in employment hours is reported.  Financial verifies hours if the hours drop and the WFPS/WFSSS must verify hours for all job starts.  If the recipient/ineligible parent reports an increase in employment hours, verification isn’t required until the next ER or MCR, but check verification obtained to authorize WCCC if available.

If the adult recipient/ineligible parent's circumstances change so they no longer qualify for their current time limit extension, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Determines if the adult recipient/ineligible parent is already approved for another type of hardship extension. If so, the WFPS/WFSSS completes the eJAS time limit tool to re-approve any other approved time limit extension(s) through their review date.
  • If the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't appear to qualify for another type of time limit extension, follow the process in 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions- Step-by-step guide for the steps to proceed with a TLE denial.

For example, if a parent is approved for a disability and an SSI extension and the WFPS/WFSSS no longer requires a parent to pursue SSI, completes the eJAS tool to re-approve the disability time limit extension only.  Since the parent is still eligible for an extension, there is no need to create an eJAS denial letter for the extension(s) closed.

Note: Reviewing the adult recipient/ineligible parent's case to determine if there is any barrier or needs that might support a TLE extension is crucial in the TLE process. Steps such as looking at the ECR to look for medical evidence, returned mail, or further correspondence from the adult recipient/ineligible parent, are steps that must be taken. 

3.6.2.2 What happens when the adult recipient with a time limit extension stops participating as required?

Adult recipients with an approved time limit extension must still participate in any WorkFirst activities required in their IRP or go through the sanction process under WAC 388‑310‑1600. This includes:

  • Adults who are approved for an SSI extension because they are required to apply for SSI in their IRP.
  • Adults who must participate in their family violence service plan to remain eligible for a family violence time limit extension.
  • Families who meet the TLE due to homelessness, must participate in activities to achieve stable housing. These activities must be developed in coordination with a housing provider or other available resources.

See the next section for information on how to process family violence time limit extensions if the adult stops following the family violence service plan or activities to resolve homelessness. See also the participation column on the time limit hardship extension chart for a brief description of each extension’s participation requirements. See also the Time Limit Extensions and Sanctions Chart.

3.6.2.3 What happens when the adult recipient/ineligible parent with an approved family violence time limit extension stops participating as required in their family violence service plan?

To qualify for a family violence time limit extension, the adult recipient/ineligible parent must participate in activities needed to address the family violence issues according to a service plan developed by a person trained in family violence. When the person stops following their family violence service plan, and refuses to participate, the person would no longer qualify for the extension.

When a WFPS/ WFSSS is notified that the participant is not participating in their family violence service plan the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Schedules a good cause appointment to determine whether the participant has good cause for not participating in the plan. Mirrors the good cause process for ineligible parents (including adjusting activities as needed) but enter the decision in the eJAS family violence case note type. See Ineligible Parents’ Family Violence Plans for more information.
  • Schedules and sends an appointment letter for a follow up time limit extension appointment (which can be the same day, but at a different time) in case the participant doesn’t have good cause and doesn’t intend to participate.
  • Uses the good cause interview and the eJAS sanction tool for adult recipients to determine good cause for non-participation and places the adult recipient in sanction if there is no good cause. This will support the decision that the adult didn't have good cause should the adult file an administrative hearing. 
  • If referred for sanction for failure to follow the family violence service plan, find out if the adult will participate in the future. If so, keep the family violence extension open.
  • If the adult recipient /ineligible parent doesn’t have good cause for failure to participate and also refuses to start participating in their family violence service plan, use the time limit interview and the eJAS time limit tool to document the person no longer qualifies for the family violence time limit extension.
  • Determines whether the person qualifies for another TLE hardship and completes the eJAS time limit extension tool (please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions- Step-by-step guide.
  • If the participant doesn't attend their appointments, make the determination of good cause and time limit extension eligibility based on the information given.

If the adult recipient /ineligible parent is closed for no time limit extension, later reapplies and now agrees to participate in their family violence plan or activities to obtain stable housing, the extension can be re-approved.  Adult recipients’ cases are reviewed to determine if they need to participate for 28 days and cure their sanction.

Note: If the case closes for no time limit extension (229 exceeds the time limit) and non-compliance sanction (252 NCS process) in the same month, the NCS case closure will override the time limit case closure in ACES and the adult will be required to participate for four weeks, if able, before TANF can be approved.

3.6.2.4 What happens with the adult recipient/ ineligible parent stops participating in activities to obtain stable housing?

To qualify for a homeless time limit extension, the adult recipient/ineligible parent must participate in activities to achieve stable housing. These activities must be developed in coordination with a housing provider or other available resources. The adult recipient/ineligible parent must comply with a housing plan, completed by a housing provider, if available. If the adult recipient/ineligible parent stops participating with their IRP requirements, they will no longer qualify for the homeless extension.

Note: The homeless TLE category is open for 6 months in duration. The TLE must not be updated before the 6 month duration expires, unless the recipient/ineligible parent stops participating as required to obtain stable housing.

When a WFPS/WFSSS is notified that the participant stopped participating in activities to achieve stable housing the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Schedules a good cause appointment to determine whether the participant has good case for not participating in the housing plan or housing activities. Mirrors the good cause process for ineligible parents (including adjusting activities as needed) but enters the decision in the time limit extension note type.
  • Schedules and sends an appointment letter for a follow up time limit extension appointment (which can be the same day, but at a different time) in case the participant doesn't have good cause and doesn't intend to participate.
  • Uses the good cause interview and the eJAS sanction tool for adult recipients to determine good cause for non-participation.
  • If referred for sanction for failure to follow the housing plan or activities to obtain stable housing, find out if the adult will participate in the future. If they agree to participate in housing activities, but keep the extension open.
  • If the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't have good cause for failure to participate and also refuses to start participating in housing activities, use the time limit interview and the eJAS time limit tool, to document the participant no longer qualifies for the homeless time limit extension.
  • Determines whether the participant qualifies for another time limit extension hardship and completes the eJAS time limit extension tool (please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions- Step-by-step guide).
  • If the participate does not attend their appointments, the WFPS/WFSSS makes the determination of good cause and the time limit extension eligibility, based on the information given.

If the adult recipient/ineligible parent is closed for no time limit extension, later reapplies and now agrees to participate in their housing plan, the extension can be re-approved.  Adult recipient's cases are reviewed to determine if they need to participate for 28 days and cure their sanction in order to receive a full grant.

If the case closes for no time limit extension (229 exceeds the time limit) and the non-compliance sanction (252 NCS process) in the same month, the NCS case closure overrides the time limit case closure in ACES and the adult will be required to participate for four weeks, if able, before TANF can be approved.

3.6.2.5 How do I process the case when a time limit extension is about to expire?

Cases with an approved time limit extension appear on the CLMR two months before the current time limit extension is slated to end. Begin the review process as quickly as possible as it may take some time for the adult recipient/ineligible parent to provide updated evidence, such as medical evidence for themselves or a disabled family member.

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Assists the adult recipient/ineligible parent with requesting medical evidence for themselves or their household member. See WFHB 6.6.4 How do I get medical evidence? or WFHB 6.3.6 Participants with medical issues who do not have Washington Apple Health- Step-by-step guide, for steps in obtaining medical evidence.  
  • Updates the service plan for family violence extensions.
  • Contacts the participant in a homeless time limit extension to inquire about housing status and update participation in activities to obtain stable housing. This could include connecting the family with local Coordinated Entry services, or by providing housing resources. 
  • Except for SSI/SSDI ineligible parents, obtains new medical evidence for disability and SSI extensions (disabled or caring for a disabled family member) following the process in WFHB 6.6, Disabilities.
  • Contacts DCYF for an update on child dependency extensions.
  • Uses verification needed to continue an older caretaker relative, SSI parent or employment time limit extension gathered by call center staff during the person’s concurrent eligibility review (ER) or mid-certification review (MCR). For older caretaker/employment/SSI extensions, schedules the time limit interview and obtains any needed documentation that won’t be obtained during a concurrent ER/MCR following financial eligibility change and verification rules. There is no requirement to follow up and ensure a concurrent ER/MCR was done as the case will close if the person fails to meet review requirements.
  • Follows the process in 3.6.1, Time Limit Extensions, to complete the time limit extension. 

3.6.2.6  Time Limit Extensions Review - Step-by-step guide

 The WFPS/WFSSS must do the following:

  • Sends an ACES online 50-05, General Appointment Letter or the eJAS appointment letter for a time limit review. Gives the adult recipient/ineligible parent 10 business days' notice. Follows all Equal Access procedures and allows additional time for the adult recipient/ineligible parent if enrolled in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP.) 
    • If the WFPS/WFSSS is able to reach the adult recipient/ineligible parent before the TLE appointment, the scheduled appointment can be waived by the adult recipient/ineligible parent, and completed sooner. The WFPS/WFSSS documents in the TLE tool, the adult recipient/ineligible parent waived the 10 business days' notice, over th phone, or in person.  
  • In the appointment letter, the WFPS/WFSSS adds canned text informing the adult recipient/ineligible parent they "have the ability to bring a second person of their choosing to the appointment."

At the Time Limit Extension appointment, the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Explains the TANF/SFA time limit policy and the TLE hardship categories to the adult recipient/ineligible parent.
  • Reviews the adult recipient/ineligible parent's TANF/SFA months for accuracy, including the adult recipient/ineligible parent's out of state, or tribal TANF months.
  • Discusses the available supports, such as transitional food or medical, for those who don't qualify for a time limit extension and provides the adult recipient/ineligible parent a list of community resources.
  • Uses the Time Limit Hardship Extensions Chart to determine whether the adult recipient/ineligible parent qualifies for one or more hardship extensions.
  • Makes the TLE decision based on the evidence available, and requests any additional necessary evidence for a hardship determination using an IRP (or a Missing Verification for Interview pend letter (0023-01) for ineligible parents. Completes the eJAS time limit extension tool process (please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Decisions- Step-by-step guide):
    • If the participant qualifies for a TLE hardship extension, the WFPS/WFSSS approves the case and completes the eJAS time limit extension tool to document the appointment and the time limit extension decision. 
    • If the TLE decision is a denial, a supervisor/designee review must be completed prior to completing the eJAS time limit extension tool.  
  • Documents in the note type Time Limit Extension, the TLE is pended due to request for further supervisory/designee review. 

At the time limit extension review, the supervisor or designee: 

  • Reviews the TLE Decision report in eJAS to find pending cases needing a TLE hardship review. 
  • Uses the Time Limit Extension chart to review the case to determine if there is any barrier or needs that might support a TLE approval. 
  • Looks in the ECR for medical evidence, returned mail or further correspondence from the adult recipient/ineligible parent that might determine if the participant is eligible for a TLE approval. 

If the supervisor/designee agrees with the termination/denial, the supervisor/designee: 

  • In the TLE Decision section of the eJAS TLE tool, reviews and check all of the boxes below in agreement:
    • Letters sent timely
    • Correct canned text in the letter
    • No mail was returned
    • No medical evidence in ECR within the last 12 months
    • No Family Violence issues have been determined
    • Equal Access Plan has been followed
    • CE created/updated within the last 12 months
    • Social Service Assessment has been completed
    • Participant does not meet any hardship categories
  • Adds notes in the "comments" section at the bottom of the tool, stating the TLE has been reviewed and they agree with the -no extension for termination/denial of benefits. 
  • When the "agree" button is selected, after checking all of the boxes mentioned above. 
    • A pop up populates, prompting the supervisor/designee to select 'ok'. 
    • When 'ok' is selected the case will appear on the CLMR section #2-TLE No Extension report for the WFPS/WFSSS to complete the final actions on the case. 
Note: The TLER status changes from 'pending' to 'agree-print-letter' (in the TLE tool for the WFPS/WFSSS to complete). 

 

Once the TLE has been reviewed and the supervisor/designee agrees with the termination/denial the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Utilizes the CLMR section #2-TLE No Extension report in the Decision column 'agree-print-letter' decisions.
  • Select date in the Created Date column.
  • Select 'Print Time Limit Extension Letter'
    • The letter only generates when dates are added
    • Select 'Preview'
    • Select 'Save Print'
Note: The letter must be printed from the TLER and sent to the adult recipient/ineligible parent to terminate/deny the TLE. If the WFPS/WFSSS does any of the following actions, the letter will not print and a decision will generate regardless and the TANF will be terminated/denied for No Extension. 

If the WFPS/WFSSS hits the back button while in the Time Limit Extension Determination Letter before printing the letter, or

  • Goes back to home
  • Goes to the main screen

    Printing prompts the systems to close out the benefits. 

If the supervisor/designee disagrees with the denial, the supervisor/designee: 

  • In the TLE Decision Section in eJAS, within the TLE tool, reviews and checks applicable boxes:
  • Checks the "disagree" button
  • If the termination/denial is not approved, the boxes/es left "unchecked" is the reason the supervisor/designee disagrees with the denial. 
  • Adds a case note stating TLE denial has been reviewed and disagrees with the termination/denial decision in eJAS. 

Once the TLE has been reviewed and the supervisor/designee disagrees with the termination/denial the WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Goes into the report TLE Decisions and finds the case by the eJAS ID
  • Completes the following case actions
    • Goes to the TLE tool for specific case, reviews the decision made, by the supervisor/designee. 
    • The supervisor/designee's decision shows by the unchecked box in the TLE tool stating what was missed in the TLE process. For example if the following boxes were left unchecked they need to be followed up on by the WFPS/WFSSS: 
      • Letters sent timely
      • Correct canned text in the letter
      • No mail was returned
      • No medical evidence in the ECR within the last 12 months
      • No Family Violence issues have been determined
      • Equal Access Plan has been followed
      • CE created/updated within the last 12 months
      • Social Service Assessment has been completed
      • Participant does not meet any hardship categories

If the adult recipient/ineligible parent stops participating as required, the WFPS/WFSSS: 

  • Follows the sanction process to determine good cause and pursue sanction, as appropriate for adult recipients. 
  • Schedules a time limit interview if the adult recipient/ineligible parent isn't participating in their family violence service plan (3.6.2.3) or activities to obtain stable housing (3.6.2.4). 
  • Uses the good cause interview and the eJAS sanction tool to refer for sanction if the adult recipient/ineligible parent doesn't have a good reason for failure to follow the family violence service plan or participate in activities to obtain stable housing. For ineligible parents, use the good cause interview only, adjust activities as needed and document the results in eJAS family violence case notes. 
    • Uses the time limit interview and eJAS time limit tool to: 
      • Determine whether the participant qualifies for another type of time limit extension (please see 3.6.1.16 Time Limit Extension Determinations- Step-by-step guide.) 
      • Document the time limit approval decision and notifies the person why the participant qualifies for the family violence extension on the eJAS time limit decision letter.
      • If a denial is the decision, the WFPS/WFSSS follows steps above in 3.6.1.16

When the current time limit extension is due to expire, the WFPS/WFSSS: 

  • Reviews all pending TLE decisions in the CLMR.
  • Uses a concurrent ER/MCR to gather any needed documentation for the older caretaker relative, SSI parent or employment extension.
  • Obtains updates or required evidence for the other time limit extensions. 
  • Uses the process in 3.6.1, Time Limit Extension Decisions, to determine whether to approve another time limit extension.
  • If a denial is the decision, follows steps above to refer the case to a supervisor/designee for review before the case can be terminated/denied.  

 

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Forms & Other Resources

 

 

3.7.1 Federal Participation Requirements

The Federal Participation Requirements section includes:

Revised February 27, 2018

  • 3.7.1.1 Overview of federal requirements
  • 3.7.1.2 When do the federal participation verification rules apply?
  • 3.7.1.3 Who documents and reports participation every month?
  • 3.7.1.4 What are the federal rules for holidays and absences?
  • 3.7.1.5 How do we treat excused and unexcused absences?
  • 3.7.1.6 What is the Work Verification Plan?

3.7.1.1 Overview of federal requirements

The federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) requires States to report actual hours of participation and be able to show that all reported activities were countable, supervised, documented and verified according to federal specifications. States also face new federal restrictions on the types of activities we can count towards participation.

States must also have a system of internal controls in place by October 1, 2007 to ensure they accurately report participation data to the federal government. Washington's system of internal controls, WorkFirst Quality Assurance, is described in section 3.7.3.

This section describes the federal participation verification requirements, when they apply and the Work Verification Plan.

While there are many factors in determining the Work Participation Rate (WPR), the table below shows the basic federal work participation requirements for individual work participation. 

Work-Eligible TANF Recipients

Federal Work Participation Requirements

1.  Each participant unless they meet the criteria in #2-6 in this chart  

30 hrs/wk with 20 hrs/core

2.  Recipient parents in a two-parent household who qualify for the two-parent options (see 1.2.3)

Combined hours of both parents

35 hrs/wk with 3o hrs/core

3.  Single parent/caregiver with a child under 6

20 hrs/wk core

4.  Participants claiming the  Infant Exemption or who are pregnant in 3rd trimester

None

*Exempt when child is less than one year old if they haven’t used 365 days in their lifetime.

5. Teen head of households (age 18 or 19 years of age) that don’t have a High School Diploma or GED

Maintaining satisfactory attendance in a secondary school or the equivalent.

6. Unmarried pregnant or parenting minors  (age 17 and younger); except between infant’s birth and turning 12 weeks old

Maintaining satisfactory attendance in a secondary school or the equivalent

Please see section 1.2 for state work requirements. 

3.7.1.2 When do the federal participation verification requirements apply?

We monitor all participation to make sure parents are following their Individual Responsibility Plan and getting the services and activities they need to progress. Under the new federal rules, however, we will need to take additional steps for unpaid core and non-core activities to document and report that the parent participated as required.

The chart below shows the additional federal requirements for unpaid core and non-core activities.

These requirements don't apply to paid core activities: employment, self-employment, Community Jobs, Career Jump, on-the-job training, WIA paid WEX (coded as PT or FT in eJAS) and work study. The hours of paid core activities will be collected using ACES data and verified as required under the WorkFirst eligibility rules. The average weekly hours of employment will be calculated in ACES and displayed in eJAS so every WorkFirst partner will know how many employment hours we are reporting to the federal government.

Requirements for All WorkFirst Activities

Additional Federal Requirements for Unpaid Core and Non-core Activities

Set IRP requirements and record the scheduled hours of participation on the eJAS component code screen. Document, then report, how many of the scheduled hours the parent actually participated each month.
Providers/partners monitor participation. Providers/partners must document actual hours of participation in a State-approved format on a regular basis and be able to produce the documentation upon request.
Don't count non-job search travel time as participation.
Activity/Job Search Logs document on and off-site job search activities.
Providers/partners confirm the parent participated each month no later than the 10th of the following month. Providers/partners report actual hours of participation in eJAS (including non-contracted activities).
Providers/partners excuse absences if the parent is unable to attend scheduled activities. Providers with eJAS access must document and report hours of excused absence.
Providers/partners report unexcused absences immediately. Providers with eJAS access must also report hours of unexcused absence.
Parents aren't asked to make up hours missed due to absences. Parents are asked to make up missed hours, as possible, by the end of the month.

3.7.1.3 Who documents and reports participation each month?

Each contractor or partner documents and reports participation for the activities they directly provide. Partners must obtain documentation and do the eJAS reporting for non-contracted activities as follows:

  • Community Jobs providers, for non-contracted activities they arrange to be stacked on top of a Community Job.
  • The WFPS or WFSSS, for any other non-contracted activities (such as counseling and some educational activities).
  • The employment counselor, for their short-term work experience (since their contractors do not have eJAS access).

DSHS staff will use the eJAS WorkFirst participation verification form to document participation in non-contracted activities. These forms will not collect information about absences and school breaks, so eJAS reporting in these areas are not required.

3.7.1.4 What are the federal rules for holidays and absences?

DRA only allows States to report documented, actual hours of participation. At the same time, DRA created other rules to compensate for the "actual hour" rules. For example, since FLSA limits how many hours of community service and work experience States can require, DRA allows States to "deem" a parent's core activity requirement met as long as s/he participates the maximum allowable hours.

DRA also allows States to count excused absences and holidays as participation. WorkFirst will claim the following absences and holidays towards participation:

  • All Washington State holidays.
  • Excused absences, including absences excused in observance of a parent's religious holiday.

DRA limits the number of excused absences we can count towards participation to 10 a year, with no more than 2 absences in any given month. Many parents will likely need more excused absences than this over the course of the year.

  • Approve and report excused absences whenever parents call in as soon as they can and have a good reason for their absences.
  • Ask parents to make up excused and unexcused absences if possible.
  • Headquarters will track how many excused absences a person receives and decide whether we need to count any given excused absence towards participation. If we don't need to use the excused absence to meet the rate, we won't.

For excused absences step-by-step, please refer to Monitoring Participation - Step by Step Guide.

3.7.1.5 How do we treat excused and unexcused absences?

We treat excused and unexcused absences differently. With excused absences, the determination we need to make is whether the parent is in the right activity and whether we need to negotiate a new activity. For unexcused absences, we need to follow the current good cause process to determine the reason the parent is not participating, while ensuring the parent has the opportunity to reengage quickly.

In either case, after 2 absences, the WorkFirst partner/provider (excluding ESD) will send an immediate notification to the case worker. ESD will contact the WFPS (either by phone, email, etc) and document the contact.

For Excused Absences, the WorkFirst partner/provider will then:

  • Keep the activity open, and
  • Contact the parent (if possible) and case manager as part of the Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) process to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the client back to DSHS.

This allows the parent to remain in the activity while the service provider, case manager and parent have an opportunity to discuss if participation in this activity is appropriate. This is also consistent with current policy to have continuing conversations with parents and service providers to ensure parents are engaged in appropriate activities.

For Unexcused Absences, the WorkFirst partner/provider will then:

  • Keep the activity open, and
  • Contact the parent, if possible, and case manager as part of the Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) process to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the client back to DSHS.

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

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

The Case Manager will:

  • Initiate the good cause process.

Note: Immediate notification allows the activity to remain open and appointments to be rescheduled while notifying the case manager of the presenting issue that is being addressed.

For how to treat excused and unexcused absences step-by-step, please refer to section 3.7.2.8 - Monitoring Participation, Step-by-Step Guide.

For more information on how ESD treats excused and unexcused absences, please refer to section 4.1.5 - What are participation requirements? Or section 4.1.11 Career Scope Services Step-by-Step Guide.

3.7.1.6 What is the Work Verification Plan?

DRA requires each state to submit a Work Verification Plan describing how the State will comply with federal participation verification requirements. The plan must be approved by the federal government and amended, as needed, to reflect changes in our participation verification procedures and rules.

Washington State's Work Verification Plan describes:

  • All the WorkFirst core and non-core activities and how we will document participation for that activity.
  • How WorkFirst will verify and project forward hours of employment for up to 6 months, including when we must re-verify hours.
  • How WorkFirst applies federal limits for time-limited core activities, infant exemptions and sanctions.
  • How WorkFirst applies the federal exemption for parents caring for a disabled family member who is not a full-time student.
  • The WorkFirst holiday and excused absence policies.
  • How we calculate the monthly FLSA maximum hours and deem additional hours towards participation.
  • The WorkFirst Quality Assurance process and internal controls to assure data accuracy.

Federal auditors will read to the WorkFirst Work Verification Plan to determine if we are out of compliance with federal participation verification requirements. Failure to comply with our approved plan results in an up to five percent reduction in our federal block grant.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

3.7.2 Documenting and Reporting Participation

Revised on: September 20, 2021

The Documenting and Reporting Participation section includes:

  • 3.7.2.1 What is monitoring participation?
  • 3.7.2.2 What is participation and progress?
  • 3.7.2.3 Who monitors participation?
  • 3.7.2.4 What is Documenting participation?
  • 3.7.2.5 What are Contracted service requirements?
  • 3.7.2.6 What are Non-contracted service requirements?
  • 3.7.2.7 Are there requirements for participants in "X" components?
  • 3.7.2.8 Monitoring Participation - Step-by-Step Guide

3.7.2.1 What is monitoring participation?

When we refer to "monitoring participation", we are talking about a monitoring and reporting system that makes sure WorkFirst participants are actively doing required activities. Monitoring participants in their WorkFirst activities is a key element in ensuring strengthened accountability.

WorkFirst participants benefit from this strengthened accountability because it will help them model the type of behavior that is required by employers. Close monitoring, and learning to come in or call in to scheduled activities, will help participants build transferable skills for the workplace.

As we monitor participation, partner agencies, contractors and non-contracted service providers will be following the same basic guidelines to report attendance, participation and progress for WorkFirst participants:

  • Most participants in non-contracted activities must have the monthly WorkFirst participation verification form turned in to the WFPS or WFSSS by the 5th of each month.
  • The WFPS or WFSSS enters the WorkFirst participation information into eJAS by the 15th of each month for the previous month's activity.
  • eJAS/CATS participation and progress reports must be input by the 10th of each month.
  • Unexcused absences must be reported immediately to the WFPS or WFSSS.
  • Partners, contractors and providers must also document participation for participants in unpaid core or non-core activities. There are additional reporting requirements for these activities, as described in Section 3.7.1.2.

3.7.2.2 What is participation and progress?

All partners and contractors must report whether a participant is participating and progressing satisfactorily each month, as follows:

  • Partners and contractors use eJAS to report progress in basic education, high school and GED completion. They also use eJAS to report actual hours of participation for unpaid core and non-core activities.
  • Non-contracted providers report actual hours of participation and progress on the eJAS WorkFirst participation verification form (but not hours missed due to holidays or absences).
  • Any provider may also communicate issues in other ways (such as meetings, e-messaging or phone calls).

Satisfactory participation means the participant is actively involved in doing the required activities. Satisfactory progress means that the participant is making gains, learning new skills, and becoming more employable.

  • For reports of unsatisfactory participation, the participant may be unable or unwilling to participate. The WFPS or WFSSS must determine if there's good cause for nonparticipation or start the sanction process if appropriate.
  • For reports of unsatisfactory progress, the WFPS or WFSSS determines what the participant needs to do to meet the activity requirements or whether another activity would be more appropriate.

The WFPS and WFSSS also access eJAS ad-hoc, the Client Accountability Report (CAR) and the Caseload Management Report (CLMR) each day to track whether a participant has had an unexcused absence or has been referred back via eJAS.

3.7.2.3 Who monitors participation?

WFPSs or WFSSSs monitors participation on a regular and consistent basis. If the participant is working with a contractor or partner agency, participation and progress reporting occurs electronically through eJAS. If the participant is working with a non-contracted service provider, the participation and progress information from the eJAS WorkFirst participation verification form is be input into eJAS by the WFPS or WFSSS by the 15 th of each month for the previous month's activity.

You can find information about how partners document and report participation in the Employment Services, WorkFirst Training, LEP Pathways, Supported Work and Community Jobs sections. The remainder of this section describes how to document and report participation in contracted and non-contracted services.

3.7.2.4 What is Documenting Participation?

We must document excused absences and actual hours of participation for unpaid core and non-core activities. Under federal rules, we must obtain written documentation in a State-approved format, such as time sheets or attendance records, to verify the specific hours of attendance by each participant in scheduled activities. Non-contracted providers must document participation by filling out an eJAS WorkFirst participation verification each form each month.

Partners and contractors must also document their approval of excused absences in eJAS notes. The eJAS note should describe why the participant was unable to attend his or her scheduled activity, the date of absence and the hours absent.

The eJAS notes, time sheets, attendance records and eJAS forms become the source documents for participation reporting in eJAS. In addition, documentation must be held by the provider, contractor or partner agency for at least 30 months so it is available for state or federal audits.

eJAS Note Redaction Procedure

If a note has been entered in eJAS in error, or in an inappropriate note type, the note must be redacted.

Examples:

  • Notes entered into the wrong participant’s record
  • Confidential notes entered into a general note type when it would be more appropriate for a special records note
  • Incorrect information entered
  • Notes entered by WF partners incorrectly or in the wrong note type
  • Other unique situations including Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)

eJAS note Redaction Step by Step

  • The WFPS or WFSSS must:
    • Once the note has been identified, you copy and paste directly from eJAS the client identification number, note type, and actual note including date and time stamp.
    • Forward the information to your supervisor for review and redaction approval
    • Replace the note into the correct note type upon supervisor approval
    • *For all ACP cases, please do not email or Skype the above information. A request for note redaction should be completed with supervisor either by phone or face to face
  • The Supervisor must:
    • Review note redaction request
    • Upon approval by supervisor, alert staff to replace the note in the correct note type or correct participant’s record as appropriate
    • Forward the request, including the copy and paste provided by staff, to both Maria Santiago and Donelle Colón in HQ Operations
    • *For all ACP cases, please do not email or Skype the above information. A request for note redaction will be coordinated with HQ by contacting Maria Santiago or Donelle Colón over the phone
  • HQ Operations:
    • Reviews the request within 24 hours
    • Upon approval, sends the note for redaction
    • Sends a confirmation email to the supervisor when the request has been completed
    • *For ACP cases, HQ contacts the supervisor directly confirming completion

3.7.2.5 What are Contracted service requirements?

The service provider documents the participants' attendance in the program and report any unexcused absences within one business day to the WFPS or WFSSS via eJAS. The WFPS or WFSSS starts the good cause determination and starts the sanction process, if appropriate, when a participant exceeds the allowable limit for unexcused absences.

By the 10th of each month, contractors must report to the WFPS or WFSSS, via eJAS, to confirm the participant's progress (when required) and participation for the previous month's unpaid core or non-core activity. Participation for community jobs, career jump, on-the-job training and work study participation is collected from ACES earnings data.

Specifically, the contractor reports:

  • Actual hours of participation.
  • The number of hours and instances for excused absences.
  • The number of hours missed due to holidays (See List of State Holidays).
  • The number of hours of unexcused absences.
  • Progress reports are only required for basic education, high school or GED completion.

For excused absences, contractors and partners report regularly scheduled hours missed due to excused absences, listing the date of the absence and the number of hours missed on that date. If the participant only misses part of a day, enter actual hours and excused absence hours separately in eJAS. For example, a participant is scheduled to participate for 7 hours on the 12th, but gets an excused absence for 3 hours in the afternoon for a doctor's appointment. Enter 4 actual hours of participation and 3 excused absence hours for the 12th into eJAS.

For holidays, contractors report regularly scheduled hours missed due to state holidays. Holiday hours should reflect but not exceed an average of the daily hours the participant is scheduled for an activity.

For example, a participant is scheduled to participate 5 hours per day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Everyone is given 2 days off for the Thanksgiving holiday. When reporting participation for this participant:

  • Do not report any holiday hours for the Thursday.
  • Report only up to 5 holiday hours for the Friday (since the participant normally participates for 5 hours every Friday).

Contractors ask participants to make up absences if possible. Any makeup time should be reflected in the contractor's documentation and entered into eJAS under actual hours of participation.

The WFPS or WFSSS receive an e-message from the contractor when an participant has an unexcused absence or is referred back electronically. When this happens:

  • A magenta colored flag appears on the contractor caseload screen for the participant in the corresponding column to indicate the WFPS or WFSSS needs to take action on the case.
  • The e-message text line auto-fills when a contractor reports an unexcused absence to the WFPS or WFSSS.
  • The contractor completes the text box of the e-message.
  • eJAS takes the contractor to the Client Notes issue type that corresponds to the action being taken.
  • The contractor must make case notes to add any relevant comments for your future reference.
  • The magenta flag turns to a green flag once the WFPS or WFSSS has entered notes in the Sanction/SafetyNet category, to indicate action has been taken on the case.

Contracted providers are required to report unexcused absences immediately and participation/progress monthly. WorkFirst partner agencies make sure that their contractors are reporting each month, and can withhold payment if this requirement is not met.

3.7.2.6 What are Non-contracted service requirements?

We may refer participants to non-contracted services, such as free basic education, doctors, or various types of services from non-profit agencies. Since these providers don't have eJAS access, the WFPS or WFSSS must manually monitor participation for these cases. For unpaid core or non-core activities, the WFPS or WFSSS must also enter documented actual hours of participation into eJAS.

A standard WorkFirst Participation Verification Form is available in eJAS for these cases. This form is the tool to be used by the WFPS or WFSSS to document the participant's progress and participation in their WorkFirst activities. The form collects information about actual hours of participation but not ask for information about absences. For unpaid core or non-core activities, use DMS to store the form so this documentation can be made available to state and federal auditors.

The WFPSs or WFSSSs print the form from eJAS and give or mail the form to the participant. Add to the participant 's IRP that it is the participant's responsibility to have the service provider complete the form and return the form to the WFPS or WFSSS by the 5th of the month. The WFPS/WFSSS enters the WorkFirst participation information into eJAS by the 15th of each month for the previous month's activity.

The WFPS or WFSSS must ensure these forms are turned in each month. When these cases are set up, open the component code for 30 days if it is not a core or non-core activity. The IRP end date should be the anticipated end date of the entire activity. The IRP is not required to have the end date of the activity coincide with the date of the 30-day review. For not countable activities, eJAS reports will alert you that a monthly participation report is due based upon the end date of the component code. Core and non-core activities will appear on the WFPS or WFSSS Multiple Client Monthly Participation eJAS screen.

For non-countable activities, if the report confirms the participant is making progress, update the component code for another 30 days. The IRP must have the actual start and end date for the non-contracted activity so we can track how long the activity is supposed to last.

If the participant has a medical deferment, with written documentation from a medical provider that indicates the participant is unable to perform any activities or attend any appointments for a length of time greater than 30 days, the participant isn't required to provide the monthly reviews to the WFPS or WFSSS.

Examples:

  • An participant may be on bed rest for 90 days. The medical provider confirms the participant is unable to do any activity and will not have recurring medical appointments during that time frame. The WFPS or WFSSS extends the appropriate X component code for 90 days and does not need the WorkFirst Participation Verification Form every 30 days.
  • An participant has documentation from a licensed medical provider that he/she is unable to work for a period of 90 days but will be receiving physical therapy twice per week. The component code would be established for 30 days and the WorkFirst Participation Verification Form would be required every month to verify the participation in the physical therapy appointments.

If the WorkFirst Participation Verification Form is unclear or is missing necessary information to confirm the participation is occurring, the WFPS or WFSSS contacts the non-contracted service provider to verify the information (documenting the contact's name, title, phone number and date of contact). For countable core or non-core activities, enter zero hours into eJAS if you cannot obtain actual participation hour documentation from the provider.

3.7.2.7 Are there requirements for participants in "X" components?

WorkFirst participants who are engaged in issue resolution as their WorkFirst participation must have the participant's participation reviewed every 30 days.

When an participant is receiving services from a contracted provider, the WFPS or WFSSS receives the monthly report electronically via eJAS. If the participant is in a countable X code, they appear on the WFPS or WFSSS multiple client monthly participation eJAS screen. These participants may have the "X" component code with an end date of greater than 30 days, because the reporting occurs through eJAS.

Participants who are in "X" component codes and receiving non-countable services from a non-contracted service provider must have the component code for a maximum of 30 days, the end date of the activity is used as the tickler to ensure the WorkFirst Participation Verification form has been received.

3.7.2.8 Monitoring Participation - Step-by-step guide

  1. The WFPS or WFSSS refers the participant to the contractor by:
    1. Entering both the component code and contractor code on the component code screen;
    2. Building an IRP that states the agreed activity, contractor or contact information, and the scheduled number of hours;
    3. Completing the eJAS referral form and transmitting the form to the contractor; and,
    4. Entering the presumed start and end date on both the component code screen and the contractor screen.
  2. The WorkFirst contractor will:
    1. Accept or reject the referral in eJAS;
    2. Make an entry in Client Notes in eJAS to document first contact with the participant, this will auto fill the date of the entry in the first contact column on the contractor caseload screen,
    3. Enter the actual start date of the activity in eJAS;
    4. Report unexcused absences in eJAS within one business day and document this in the participant's Client Notes in eJAS;
    5. Report excused absences in eJAS and document the reason the participant was unable to attend in the participant's Client Notes in eJAS.
    6. Report regularly scheduled hours missed due to an official state holiday.
    7. Report the participant's actual hours of participation, absences, and progress in BE, HS or GE by the 10th of each month for the previous month's activities.
    8. Round participation hours up to the next ¼ (.25) hour increment. Example: participant reports for class one day for 6 hours and 10 minutes. The participation hours for that day would be 6.25 hours.
  3. The WFPS or WFSSS will:
    1. Start the good cause determination or the sanction process, whichever is appropriate, for unexcused absences or unsatisfactory participation;
    2. Determine next steps, using the case staffing process if desired, for unsatisfactory progress;
    3. Check the contractor screen in eJAS on a regular basis to make sure that all reports of unexcused absences or unsatisfactory participation/progress are responded to in a timely manner.

How to Treat Excused and Unexcused Absences - Step-by-Step

The WorkFirst partner or contractor:

Upon 2 excused or unexcused absences, sends an immediate notify via eJAS to the WFPS.

ESD:

Upon 2 excused or unexcused absences, contacts the participant , if possible, and the case manager as part of the Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) process to determine whether the activity is appropriate for the participant and discuss next steps.

Excused Absence

Upon receipt of the immediate notification or contact from ESD, the WFPS:

  1. Keeps the current activity open.
  2. Has a conversation with the participant, if possible, and the service provider to determine if the participant is in a correct activity and review next steps.
  3. Updates IRP if needed.

Unexcused Absence

Upon receipt of the immediate notification or contact from ESD, the WFPS:

  1. Keeps the current activity open.
  2. Has a conversation with the participant, if possible, and the service provider or partner as part of the Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) process to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the client back to DSHS. to determine if the participant is a correct activity and review next steps .

If it is identified that the appropriate next step would be to refer the client back, then the component can be closed (ESD will close the component and refer the participant back). The WFPS:

  1. Opens a PR component and ensures the activity code is closed.
  2. Initiates the good cause/sanction process, following the steps laid out in WFHB Section 3.5.1. , "Entering Non-Compliance Sanction (NCS)."

eJAS Entering Excused Absences - Step-by-Step

  1. On the Client Monthly Participation Screen or Multiple Client Monthly Participation Screen, enter the date range of monthly participation.
  2. Click the link in the Excused Hours/Dates column.
    • This brings up a new pop-up screen "DSHS Excused Absences Reporting".
  3. Click in the required date box.
  4. Click on the specific calendar date to enter the date of the absence.
  5. Enter the number of excused hours missed on that date in the "Excused Hours" box.
    • Users can enter excused absence hours in ¼ hour increments.
  6. Click the "Close" button after entering the excused absence hours - this takes you back to the participation page.
    • Users get an alert when they click the "Close" button on the excused absences page reminding them to click the update button on the participation page to save the information.
  7. Click "Update" button on the participation page to save excused dates and absences.
    • The history of excused absences is on the same "Actual Hours Transaction History" screen. To view details of the excused absences, click on the Excused Hour link from the Transaction History screen. This opens the DSHS Excused Absences Reporting page which lists date range start and end dates, the date of the excused absence(s) and the excused hours.

Non-contracted services- Step-by-step guide

  1. The WFPS or WFSSS refers the participant to the non-contracted provider by:
    1. Entering the component code on the component code screen. Open the component for 30 days for not countable activities. The end date of the component will indicate that when a WorkFirst Participation Verification form is due (the CLMR is used to monitor these cases); or
    2. Entering an "RO" component code to refer the participant if the start date is unknown or if it is unknown whether the participant will be accepted for services;
    3. Creating an IRP with the actual start and end date of the service and requiring the participant to turn in the WorkFirst Participation Verification form each month (unless the participant has a medical deferment, with written documentation from a medical provider indicating the participant is unable to perform any activities or attend any appointments for a length of time greater than 30 days); and
    4. Completing the WorkFirst Participation Verification form in eJAS, printing the form and either handing it or mailing it to the participant.
  2. The Service Provider:
    1. Accepts or reject the referral manually; and
    2. Reports the participant's participation and progress by the 5th of each month for the previous month's activities on the WorkFirst Participation Verification form.
  3. By the 15th of each month, the WFPS or WFSSS enters the WorkFirst Participation Verification information into eJAS for the previous month's activity and:
    1. For core or non-core activities:
      1. Enters the actual hours of participation into eJAS. If this data is not made available, enter zero hours of participation into eJAS.
      2. Sends the WorkFirst Participation Verification form to DMS.
      3. Updates the component code to match the IRP end date.
    2. Starts the good cause determination or the sanction process, whichever is appropriate, for unsatisfactory participation;
    3. Determines next steps, using the case staffing process if desired, for unsatisfactory progress;
    4. Updates the component code for another 30 days if the participant is in a not countable activity, is making satisfactory progress and it is appropriate for the participant to continue in the activity; or
    5. If the participant is in an X component code for a total of 90 days, the case needs supervisory review/approval prior to granting additional time to remain in the same component.

    Resources

    Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

    Forms & Other Resources

3.7.3 WorkFirst Quality Assurance

The WorkFirst Quality Assurance section includes:

  • 3.7.3.1 What is WorkFirst Quality Assurance?
  • 3.7.3.2 What are data accuracy initiatives?
  • 3.7.3.3 How will we do case reviews?
  • 3.7.3.4 What is the WorkFirst Participation Review Committee?

3.7.3.1 What is WorkFirst Quality Assurance?

The federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) requires States to accurately report actual hours of WorkFirst participation. States must also establish a system of internal controls to make sure they find and fix any systematic errors in the participation data they report to the federal government.

The federal government will do its own audits as well. States that are found substantially out of compliance with meeting federal participation verification requirements may lose up to five percent of their federal block grant.

WorkFirst Quality Assurance is a partnership effort to examine how well we are doing with implementing WorkFirst Forward and to create joint plans for any needed corrective action. The primary elements of WorkFirst Quality Assurance are:

  • Data accuracy initiatives.
  • Case record reviews.
  • WorkFirst Participation Review Committee.

The WorkFirst partnership will also use contract monitoring, staff training and local planning area coordination meetings to identify and address areas that could lead to federal errors.

3.7.3.2 What are data accuracy initiatives?

Data accuracy initiatives will assess whether the data we report to the federal government is free of data input errors and omissions. The goal is to improve WorkFirst data accuracy and eliminate factors that generate errors. This proactive approach will result in fewer errors, reduce re-work and preserve federal funding.

Data accuracy initiatives will likely change over time as we review cases and identify root causes of errors. The overall strategy includes:

  • Automating calculations and processes to reduce human error and workload.
  • Using automation to maximize participation (such as strategic use of time limits and excused absences).
  • Validating data produced by our automated systems (such as self-employment and monthly FLSA maximum calculations).
  • Identifying potential system errors.
  • Reducing data input discrepancies.
  • Auditing at a supervisory, agency and WorkFirst partnership level.

The federal government already reviews the WorkFirst data we send them and lets us know when they find possible errors. Examples of the errors they find are incorrect marital status or parents in sanction with no grant reduction. WorkFirst Quality Assurance has set a process in place to handle these potential errors before we submit data to reduce our risk of federal penalties. This process will:

  • Send discrepancy cases to local or headquarter staff for correction.
  • Let the federal government know when there is no discrepancy.
  • Change procedures, manuals or automated systems as needed so fewer discrepancies are generated.

3.7.3.3 How will we do case reviews?

The DSHS Office of Quality Assurance will draw a statistically valid sample of WorkFirst cases each month and work with the WorkFirst partnership to conduct case reviews. Each WorkFirst partner who provided an activity to the family will be on point to provide supporting documentation on the case.

WorkFirst Quality Assurance case record reviews will identify areas that, if left unaddressed, will lead to federal discrepancies. Key elements of the reviews include:

  • Were the hours countable?
  • Were the hours documented and reported correctly?
  • Did we capture all stacked activities in eJAS timely and accurately?
  • Did we follow the rules for approving excused absences?
  • Did we report school breaks correctly?
  • Did we record progress for high school equivalency and basic education?
  • Did we stay within the FLSA maximum hourly limits each month?
  • When we deemed, did the actual hours equal the monthly FLSA maximum?
  • Did we verify employment hours when required?
  • Did parents sign in on each scheduled day of job search and review their Daily Activity/Job Search Log with their employment counselor at their scheduled one-on-one coaching session?
  • Did we use the correct eJAS component codes and ACES valid values?
  • Did we enter the correct number of hours into eJAS and ACES?

The case record review will also look at how well we are doing with meeting WorkFirst participation requirements. Not every parent is able to participate full-time all the time, but we do want to make sure staff understand how to stack activities correctly. We also want to determine causes and solutions when parents' actual participation does not match their scheduled hours of participation.

3.7.3.4 What is the WorkFirst Participation Review Committee?

The WorkFirst Participation Review Committee (PRC) meets monthly to review potential problem cases from the case reviews. The idea behind the PRC is that bringing together the combined expertise of partners will help identify ways in which discrepancies may be reduced.

The PRC committee will:

  • Strengthen communication and understanding among all partners by encouraging dialog, discussion and mutual solutions.
  • Focus on short- and long-term discrepancy prevention and corrective action.
  • Identify discrepancy-prone cases, policy or automation issues and staff training needs.
  • Provide an opportunity to identify and discuss problem issues locally, regionally and statewide.
  • Allow the sharing of best practices statewide.

The PRC will distribute case record review findings prior to each meeting. Representatives from each WorkFirst partner agency will attend the meetings, as well as information technology staff.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

Chapter 4: Career Scope Services

4.1 Career Scope Phases and Processes

(Time-limited core)

Revised on: September 20, 2021

Legal references:

The Employment Services- Career Scope/Work Search section includes:

  • 4.1.1 What is Career Scope?
  • 4.1.2 What are Career Scope phases and how long do services last?
  • 4.1.3 Who is prepared to participate in Career Scope services?
  • 4.1.4 What is the referral process for Career Scope services?
  • 4.1.5 How do Career Scope Coaches support WorkFirst participants?
  • 4.1.6 What is Life Skills training as part of Career Scope activities?
  • 4.1.7 How are actual hours of participation tracked?
  • 4.1.8 What is Temporary Employment and how is it tracked?
  • 4.1.9 How are participants in a family violence situation assisted?
  • 4.1.10 What is the process for early referral back from Career Scope services?
  • 4.1.11 Career Scope services- Step-by-Step guide
  • 4.1.12 Strategies for Success (SFS) Life Skills- Step-by-Step guide for participants enrolled in Job Search.

4.1.1 What is Career Scope?

Career Scope is a four-phased WorkFirst job search, employment services, and career development pathway. Participants receive support with the completion of essential employment portfolio assets. Career Scope provides the following support to participants:

  • Provides individualized employment pathways to meet participants where they are through tools and training; Coach Assisted, Coach Supported, and Coach Supervised work search services.
  • Connects participants to "better fit" employment (expanding sectors and in-demand occupations, career ladders and benefits) through targeted job development, including on-the-job training.
  • Expands skill development and online learning opportunities.
  • Uses Strength based employment assessments to help participants identify career pathways.
  • Focuses on long-term connections with post-TANF working families through optional ongoing retention and career development services.

4.1.2 What are Career Scope phases and how long do services last?

Phase 1: Orientation and Assessment

  • The Career Scope Orientation is an overview for WorkFirst participants to learn about the benefits and responsibilities of participating in the Career Scope program. Orientation focuses on employment as a means towards self-sufficiency.
  • During Phase 1, participants complete a Employment Skills Assessment. The assessment helps determine a participant's work values, interests, work skills, and work readiness. The Career Scope Coach enters a summary of this assessment into ESD Job Search Activities in eJAS under the ESD Skills and Assets and adds a note in eJAS.

Phase 2: Asset Development

  • Participants develop the necessary tools to begin looking for work.
  • The participant is expected to complete these tools within the first two to three weeks. The Career Scope Coach enters the asset completion dates into the ESD Skills and Assets.
  • Portfolio Assets include the following:
    • Master Application
    • Resume
    • Interviewing Skills
    • 60 Second Commercial
    • Labor Market Research
  • Additional documents include in each Portfolio:
    • List of 3 references
    • Cover Letter/Thank You note examples

Phase 3: Employment Pathways

  • With the tools completed, the Career Scope Coach is able to provide an individualized approach to gaining job skills/employment. Career Scope Coaches document the participant's progress and support/coaching offered on the Participant Notes screen in eJAS.

Phase 4: Post TANF/Employment Services

  • The goal of Post TANF/Employment Services is to offer recently employed WorkFirst participants, support to maintain their employment.
  • Newly employed individuals, who were TANF recipients, remain connected to their Career Scope Coach by phone, e-mail, or through one-on-one in person sessions.
  • At multiple points during the Career Scope process, Career Scope Coaches tell participants about post-employment services to help them find full-time or stable employment.

How long do Career Scope services last?

  • Career Scope services last up to twelve weeks, divided into the three active phases and one post TANF phase for job retention and wage progression as outlined above.
  • CSD staff can approve additional Career Scope services based on participation and the recommendations of ESD Career Scope Coaches, as part of the "Continuous Activity Planning" process.
  • As mentioned above, post TANF/Employment Services are also a resource to participants after obtaining employment.

4.1.3 Who is prepared to participate in Career Scope?

Being prepared to participate in Career Scope is defined as being "work ready."

Participants referred to Career Scope services should have the following:

  • Childcare arranged, with a back-up plan.
  • Reliable transportation, including a back-up plan.
  • A current comprehensive evaluation or assessment in eJAS.
  • A picture ID and Social Security card, or if in the process of requesting a new card, verification be obtained within the first four weeks of Career Scope.

Participants referred to Career Scope should:

  • Be willing, able, and available to accept employment if offered; full time employment being the goal.
  • Participate in Career Scope either full time (FT) or part-time (PT) in combination with other work readiness or barrier removal activities described in their Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) or part time employment:
    • FT is 32-38 hours per week or
    • 20-23 hours per week for single parents with a school age child under the age of 6
    • PT is a minimum of 10 hours per week and can be combined with
      • completing the last 4 weeks of a Commerce Program's, training and/or education or;
      • participating in barrier removal activities or,
      • part-time employment.

Report into the Career Scope Coach on scheduled attendance days as set by the Career Scope Coach in person, by phone, or by email.

4.1.4 What is the referral process to Career Scope services?

When the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) adds ESD Career Scope activities in the participant's IRP, use the RI referral code with the number of hours they agreed to participate in Job Search.

Note: The end date of the RI referral code is either the day of the appointment with ESD, or seven days, whichever comes first.

Job Search Components are as follows:

  • RI- Prepare for Job Preparation/Job Search.
  • JS- Career Scope services which include Job Preparation, Job Search.

Career Scope Services- On-the-Job training code:

  • OT- Subsidized employment in which the employer provides training to the participant that leads to fulltime employment.

Career Scope Services- ESD Work Experience code:

  • WE- Placement into an unpaid activity to obtain work skills in a workplace setting. ESD does not have a contractor code.

Career Scope Services- Skills Enhancement Training code:

  • JT- Training or education for job skills required by an employer to provide an individual with the ability to obtain employment or to advance or adapt to the changing demands of the workplace. This can be customized training for a specific employer or general training to prepare for employment.
  • SW- Indicator code put in by the WFPS/WFSSS when the participant is attending Strategies for Success while in a JS component.

4.1.5 How do Career Scope Coaches support WorkFirst participants?

During one-on-one meetings with participants, the Career Scope Coach:

  • Ensures the activities assigned and agreed to reflect full or part-time participation as required in the Individual Responsibility Plan.
  • Assigns participants to workshops, job clubs, short-term job skills training, and other activities as required.
  • Helps participants build their own list of activities to meet their goals.
  • Informs participants of their daily participation expectations and how to record completed activities listed on their WorkFirst Activity Log. The WorkFirst Activity Log is a tool used to capture the participant's job search activities and required hours of participation.
  • Encourages participants to retain a copy of the Activity Log for employer follow up.
  • Develops with participants, the number and type of employer contacts they are expected to make.
  • Evaluates the participant's progress with assigned activities for the previous week(s) and/or days.
  • Documents in eJAS notes, participation concerns such as; unexcused absences, missing verification of temporary employment, incomplete tasks, and required actions to be taken to improve participation.
  • Recommends other activities if work search is no longer considered appropriate.
  • Records on the Participant Monthly Participation screen or the Multiple Participant Participation screen in eJAS the hours of participation, holiday hours, temporary employment hours, and excused and unexcused hours for each day.
Note: Recording and tracking attendance: WorkFirst attendance in eJAS is connected to the Participant Monthly Participation and the Multiple Participant Monthly Participation screens in eJAS, where Career Scope Coaches enter required participation hours from WorkFirst Activity Logs. Career Scope Coaches set the attendance requirements on the day one of the job search/orientation with the participant. Career Scope Coaches track and update attendance and add notes in eJAS under Participant Notes section. 

4.1.6 What is Life Skills training as part of Career Scope activities?

Life skills training, as part of Career Scope prepares participants to meet the demands of everyday life and employment, but may not address all family barriers. Programs are locally designed and operated to maximize availability resources to best serve participants within their community. Life skills training is provided by Employment Security Department, local community colleges, or other community organizations including Community Jobs contractors.

Life Skills modules offered by ESD is titled Strategies for Success.

Life skills training is included in JS hours, attendance is documented on the participant's Activity Log.

Life skills training is available for one week, or 30 hours, and participants enter training near the beginning of job preparation activities as part of employment services. Services already provided in Career Scope, such as resume writing, or basic education skills are not duplicated in life skills training.

Life Skills topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-awareness
  • Attitude
  • Balancing work and personal life
  • Money management
  • Stress and anger management
  • Time management
  • Communication skills
  • Appropriate standards for dress and participation

For independent Life Skills training refer to section 7.3.6 What is Independent Life Skills Training?

4.1.7 How are actual hours of participation tracked?

Actual hours of participation are when participants start and end their Career Scope activities each day. Starting and ending Career Scope activities each day is defined as:

Career Scope starts each day when the participant begins their first work search activity, examples below:

  • Starts an internet work search,
  • Works on their resume, an employment application, thank-you letter or,
  • Arrives at their WorkFirst/WorkSource office or,
  • Stops at an employer's business or an activity associated with work search.

Career Scope ends each day when the participant ends their last work search activity, for example:

  • Leaves their WorkFirst/WorkSource office or,
  • Stops at an employer's business or an activity associated with work search as their last activity or,
  • Completes the day's final internet work search, works on their resume, employment activity, thank-you letters, at home.

Career Scope Coaches are responsible for updating actual hours in eJAS.

4.1.8 What is Temporary Employment and how is it recorded?

Temporary Employment is a paid, unsubsidized job lasting 30 days or less. Examples include work for temporary employment agencies (such as Manpower, Labor Ready, etc.) and casual labor (such as odd jobs for their landlords, friends, and relatives) or other employers offering temporary employment.

Temporary Employment can be a part-time (31 or fewer hours per week), or full-time employment FT, (32 or more hours per week.) In either case, there is an estimated employment end date of 30 or fewer days and employers do not consider participants to be permanent employees.

Career Scope Coaches will coordinate with the WFPS in cases where the temporary employment lasts more than four consecutive days or is reoccurring each week to decide whether participants are in the appropriate component.

Career Scope Coaches duties are as follows:

  • Excuses participants in eJAS for Temporary Employment as "Temporary Employment Unverified" when the participant calls the Career Scope Coach to be excused for this purpose.
  • Reminds the participant to provide any missing detailed employment information during their next scheduled day of work search.
  • Verifies employment, completes the Temporary Employment Verification Form and changes the "Temporary Employment Unverified" in eJAS to "Verified- Temporary Employment Verified." Hours for "Verified Employment," are not entered into eJAS in Client Monthly Participation/Multiple Client Monthly Participation as verified hours. The WFPS will enter the employment hours into ACES system using the historical entry of employment hour process. These hours will later be included in the hours reported as participation to the federal government.
  • If unable to verify employment, and the participate does not call in to report the absence timely, leave the "Temporary Employment Unverified" as recorded and treat this time as a "no show." Enter a note in eJAS indicating what actions were taken to verify employment and that the participant was advised they were considered a "no show" on that day. Ensures the participant knows that if Temporary Employment cannot be verified they will be considered a "no show" and they may not be excused for Temporary Employment in the future.

The Career Scope Coach ensures the original Temporary Employment Tracking Logs are sent to the regional DSHS Hub Imaging Unit (HIU) by the 10th of the month following the employment months being recorded.

The WFPS works the documents from the DMS system and records the employment hours in ACES using the historical entry of employment hours.

See WFHB section 8.1.6 How do we code hours for temporary employment.

4.1.9 How are Career Scope participants in a family violence situation assisted?

If a WorkFirst participant discloses they are working on resolving a current family violence need, or coping with a previous family violence situation, while participating in Career Scope activities, the Career Scope Coach does the following :

  • Outlines the requirements of the program. Let's the participant know that there are people who can help them work through whatever emerges as they work through the program.
  • Supports the participant in meeting participation requirements while considering safety needs.
  • Assists in developing Career Scope activities for the participant that do not put them at further risk of family violence.
  • Considers and discusses with the participant what other employees need to know and provide briefings accordingly. Considers steps needed to provide safety of the office employees and other participants.
  • Reviews whether all options for addressing the participant's specific barriers to obtaining and or maintaining a job have been exhausted.
  • Excuses, in eJAS, any absence(s) that occurred because a family violence situation arose or worsened.
  • Refers the participant back to the WFPS/WFSSS with recommendations if they do not or cannot follow through with work search requirements.
Note: Further family violence resources can be found in the WorkFirst Handbook section 6.5.

4.1.10 What is the process for referral back from Career Scope Services?

Participants will be referred back if they don't make contact with their Career Scope Coach, no-show for orientation, or at any time it's determined that Career Scope services aren't the appropriate activity. Career Scope Coaches select the appropriate reason when referring participants back.

The refer back (RB) examples from the RI referral are as follows:

  • If a participant reports for Career Scope orientation and it's determined they don't meet the Work Ready Criteria, see section 4.1.3
  • If a participant doesn't attend job search orientation

Reasons to refer back (RB) from Job Search (JS) component are: 

  • Participant Refuses to Participate (states they aren't going to participate)
  • Participant Unable to Participate (medical/legal reasons)
  • Loss of Contact (Participant is a no call/no show and cannot be contacted)
  • Participant Has No Childcare
  • Participant Has No Transportation
  • Noncompliance/Participation (Participant isn't complying or participating as required)
    • For more details on excused/unexcused absences, see 3.7.2 Documenting and Reporting Participation
  • Completed 12 weeks of JS
  • Other Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) Outcomes, including barriers the participant may need to focus on before entering Career Scope services
Note: Career Scope Coaches must connect with the WFPS/WFSSS by phone, or if unable, by e-message to alert them the participant is being referred back from Job Search (JS).

Steps for the Refer Back (RB):

  • An RB component will be entered by the Career Scope Coach 
  • A Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) note is entered by the Career Scope Coach as part of the RB process

Refer Back from Career Scope Services, Work Experience or On-the-Job Training:

Career Scope Coaches must contact the participant's WFPS/WFSSS to conduct a joint evaluation and include the participant (when possible) to determine next steps. Career Scope Coaches close the JS, WE, or OT; enter an "RB" in eJAS with zero hours and with an end date of no more than 4 days from the date entered; select the appropriate reason code for the RB, and document in eJAS CAP notes why the participant is being referred back.

Career Scope Coaches enter in eJAS Notes a recommendation, as part of the "Continuous Activity Planning," for the next activity or activities, ensuring they meet the requirements of the "Decision Making Criteria" the process of allowing participant's to make decisions around their participation goals.

Other CAP outcomes, including barriers the participant may need to focus on before entering Career Scope services.

Refer to WFHB section 3.7.1.5 How do we treat excused and unexcused absences?

4.1.11 Career Scope Services Step-by-Step Guide

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Opens the RI (prepare for job preparation/job search) component to match agreed hours in IRP (typically for 35 hours for full-time participation, 23 hours for part-time participation or 38 hours full-time job search when one parent is doing all the participation for both parents in a two-parent family and no less than 10 hours for part-time participation).
  • The end date on the component is the day of the appointment, or the end of the timeframe for participants to contact ESD. This date will pre-fill into the IRP template.
Note: An RI component can only be opened for 7 days. Career Scope Coaches don't have access to close the RI.

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Develops an IRP with the participant based on the recommendation from the Comprehensive Evaluation that includes the correct participation hours in Career Scope activities.
  • Adds Career Scope services to the IRP, and the participant's requirement to have in place childcare or transportation, if these are necessary.
  • Monitors the RI activities to ensure the participant childcare and transportation plans are in place prior to reporting for Career Scope activities.
Note: When a participant is accepted into Career Scope, the Career Scope Coach converts the RI component to Job Search (JS) and adds the required participation hours.

 

Exceptions:

For Limited English Proficient (LEP) refer to WFHB section 5.2 Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Pathway, the worker enters the JS code with the contractor code. For Tribal TANF refer to WFHB section 9.3 and when the tribe has employment services use the RT referral component (valid for 7 days). Monitor and close RT component when the participant starts Job Search activities with the tribe.

Expectations for Career Scope Coaches:

  • Assesses participants referred to Career Scope activities to ensure they are Work Ready. Provides Career Scope Orientation, when the participant is Work Ready.
  • Provides participants with WorkFirst Activity Logs, coaches participants on how to properly complete the logs with required hours of participation, collects the logs weekly, and enters the hours of participation in eJAS.
  • Enters Employment Skills Assessment Summary and tracks Asset Inventory dates into the ESD job Search Activities section in eJAS.
  • Records and tracks daily-required attendance, refers participants to workshops, hiring events, job openings, and Strategies for Success as appropriate.
  • Keeps the WFPS/WFSSS informed by engaging in CAP meetings to assess the participant's needs/progress.
  • Provides support services per the Support Service Directory limitations (as appropriate) and trigger Auto-Pay for job search and employment (when verified).
  • Verifies Temporary/Permanent Employment and reports employment to WFPS/WFSSS.
  • Notes all progress, changes, and circumstances (adhering to confidentiality policies) in eJAS notes.

4.1.12 Strategies for Success, (SFS) Life Skills Participation Step-by-Step Guide: Participants enrolled in job search.

Career Scope Coaches:

  • Ask the WFPS/WFSSS to enter the indicator component of SW with 0 hours and an end date that reflects the last date of the scheduled workshop.

WFPS/WFSSS:

  • Creates the SW indicator component per partner request
    • Start date is the date the partner requests the component.
    • Code 0 hours.
    • End date: last date of the participant's scheduled workshop/s

Documents the case actions in eJAS notes, i.e., scheduled workshops.

Note: The contracted JS provider tracks and monitors Strategies for Success participants through their existing Job Search component.  

Strategies for Success Instructor:

  • Supervision: Required daily supervision.
  • Documents attendance records every week and maintains them in the provider's files.
  • Provides this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
  • Provides information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.

ESD WorkFirst Career Scope Coach:

  • Instructs the participant to include SFS class and participation hours on WorkFirst Activity Log.
  • Follows up with the participant regarding attendance or other issues affecting participation in class.
  • Uses eJAS to report participation to the WFPS/WFSSS on a weekly basis.
  • Includes participation in SFS in total weekly participation hours when recording Actual Hours.
  • Immediately notifies the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant is not maintaining satisfactory progress, or fails to participate as required, see section WFHB section 3.7.2 Documenting and Reporting Participation.
  • Provides information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.

 

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

4.2 On the Job Training (OJT)

(Fully countable core)

Revised September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The On-the-Job Training section includes:

  • 4.2.1 What is Career Scope On The Job Training - OJT?
  • 4.2.2 What are Career Scope services - OJT standards?
  • 4.2.3 How is employer participation and reimbursement determined?
  • 4.2.4 How is monitoring progress conducted?
  • 4.2.5 What are wage progression Career Scope services OJT Standards?
  • 4.2.6 What are Career Scope services OJT Limitations?
  • 4.2.7 What is release time training?
  • 4.2.8 How are records maintained?
  • 4.2.9 eJAS Codes
  • 4.2.10 Career Scope services OJT - Step-by-Step Guide

4.2.1 What is Career Scope Services On the Job Training - OJT?

On-the-Job Training (OJT) offers the opportunity for full-time subsidized employment for participant receiving cash assistance. OJTs provide skills training on site with an employer. OJTs may also be combined with formal classroom or skills training. The goal of an OJT is prepare a participant for full-time employment and transition off cash assistance.

Full-time is defined as 32 - 40 hours a week. The WorkFirst program authorizes the creation of two types of full-time OJTs:

  1. The first allows a participant to learn new skills in a new job.
  2. The second offers wage progression by increasing skills to move a participant into a new job with the participant's existing employer or with a new employer.

See WFHB section 1.2.3 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s IRP when possible. When a participant has 20 hours of unsubsidized employment (or 30 hours for a two-participant family) this will meet the core activity requirement.   For two-parent families or single parents with no children under six in this situation, consider adding non-core activities to meet the strengthened participation requirements.

Employers eligible to participate in OJTs are:

  • Private companies or corporations
  • Non-profit companies or corporations
  • Public agencies (only if a participant cannot access their own records)

4.2.2 What are Career Scope Services - OJT Standards?

There are four (4) options to request an OJT ETR to approve less than minimum wage. Note: Should the employer offer one or any combination of the following, the $12 per hour wage may be waived.  Those options include:

  • Employer provides medical coverage
  • Employer provides dental coverage
  • Employer provides retirement benefits 
  • Employer offers a defined career pathway with set wage increase milestones (to be included in the OJT ETR request).
  • Write all OTJ contracts for full time work. Full time work is defined as 32-40 hours a week.
  • Write OJTs for up to twelve weeks depending on time needed to learn skills
  • Reimburse an employer for up to and including 50% of the total gross wages.
  • Reimburse for regular work hours only, no holiday or vacation hours.
  • Reimburse pre-approved release hours for classroom or skills training at 50% of the initial starting wage.
  • Build all wage increases into the original OJT contract.
  • List specific occupational skills the employer will teach.
  • Meet wage progression standards (listed below- 4.3.5) for a wage progression OJT.
  • Do not write OJT contracts for occupations with other available funding sources, such as certified Nurse Aides.
  • Apprenticeship positions are not appropriate for OJTs because the apprenticeship is already a training position.
  • Meet all the standards, limitations and general conditions as outlined in the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions .
  • Obtain an approved Exception to the Rule for any exception to WorkFirst policy.
  • Start training only after the Employment Security Department (ESD) Career Scope Supervisor, Career Scope Coach and the employer sign the On-The-Job Training contract, the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreement, and the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions,

The Career Scope Supervisor reviews the OJT contract to ensure it:

The ESD Career Scope Supervisor documents the review and justification for the contract in eJAS employment type notes.

After the ESD Career Scope Supervisor reviews and approves the contract and documents the review in eJAS employment notes, they sign the On-The-Job Training contract, the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreement , and the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions. Then the Career Scope Coach and employer sign each document.

Within three business days of obtaining all signatures, send a copy of the OJT contract package to the ESD WorkFirst Administration Unit. The package contains the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master AgreementWorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions, and the OJT contract.

When participants report their OJT earnings and hours to DSHS, their WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) records the participant's actual hours of participation by updating the ACES 3G Earned Income screen.

4.2.3 How is Employer Participation and Reimbursement Determined?

  • Determine if WorkFirst may enter into a contract with an employer.
  • Have the employer read and sign the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreement , and the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions. The WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreement , and the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions are agreements between a local office and a specific employer to conduct training.
  • Involve the employer in the OJT development by explaining the purpose of the OJT and the employer's training responsibilities.
  • Ensure the employer will provide sufficient supervision for the participant to learn the contracted skills.
  • Inquire about the number of subsidized workers and unsubsidized workers the employer currently employs. An employer may not receive subsidies for more than 25% or 1 in 4 of the employer's workforce. (In figuring consider all programs that may subsidize workers, such as WIA, Veteran programs or Commerce's Community Jobs program.) To contract with a company above the 25% level requires an approved Exception to the Rule (ETR).
  • Involve employers in the OJT development so they understand the purpose of the OJT and their training responsibilities.
  • Consult with both the employer and participant about progress (listed in 4.2.4.below).
  • Support all employer reimbursements with copies of time and payroll records.
  • Obtain copies of the timesheets signed by both the employer and the participant.
  • Attach copies of the time sheets and payroll records to the voucher for employer reimbursement.
  • If the OJT employer fails to pay the employee wages or the employee's paycheck fails to clear the bank due to insufficient funds, WorkFirst funds must not be used to compensate for the loss of pay. Wage issues should be taken to the Labor and Industries Wage Board.

4.2.4 How is monitoring progress conducted?

A Career Scope Coach monitors the employee's progress regularly. A Career Scope Coach visits the worksite to ensure all OJT training objectives are met and all parties remain satisfied with progress.

  • A Career Scope Coach makes on-site visits at the worksite during the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 11th week (according to the length of the OJT.)
  • Visits may be more often if the employer and the ESD Career Scope Coach agree.
  • Within three working days after each visit, record an "Employment" type note in eJAS documenting at a minimum the following items:
    • Progress towards meeting the OJT goals as stated by both the employer and the participant
    • Any concerns along with solutions raised by the employer or employee
    • Reason for ending an OJT early

4.2.5 What are wage progression Career Scope Services OJT Standards?

Use a wage progression Career Scope services OJT when a participant has the opportunity to increase his or her earning potential. When the contract is created, the participant must still receive WorkFirst cash assistance.

A wage progression Career Scope services OJT must meet the following conditions:

  • Allows an employed participant to exit WorkFirst cash assistance with a better job.
  • Successfully places a participant in a full-time job with increased wages and benefits
  • Places the participant with a different employer or in a new job with their current employer.
  • Provides training to obtain key job skills essential to attaining the wage progression.

4.2.6 What are Career Scope Services OJT Limitations?

Refer to WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Contract Terms and Conditions for a complete list of employer expectations and limitations.

4.2.7 What is release time training?

Release time training is classroom or skills training provided by someone other than the employer. A community college or professional organization may provide this training. Employers receive 50% reimbursement for wages during the hours a participant is in this release time training. No more than 25% of the total contracted hours may be for release time training. Support service funds may cover the cost of the release time training and for any books or related supplies needed.

4.2.8 How are records maintained?

Maintain the signed original WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreement, WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions and On-The- Job Training Contract in the local office until one quarter after the program year ends. Then the office may archive the OJT documents for six years.

4.2.9 eJAS Codes

  • OT (On-the-Job Training)

4.2.10 Career Scope Services OJT - Step-by-step guide

The Career Scope coach:

  • Interviews an eligible participant who may benefit from OJT.
  • Discusses possibility of an OJT for an eligible participant with an employer.
  • Talks with the employer approving authority about work site standards, limitations and general conditions. Have the employer sign the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreements and WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions.
  • Figures percentage of subsidized employees for the employer. (Listed above in 4.2.3)
  • Obtains an approved Exception to the Rule from ESD WorkFirst Administration Unit for any exception to WorkFirst policy.
  • Negotiates expectations, length, content and employer reimbursement regarding the proposed OJT with the employer and employee.
  • Determines justification for training. Document the justification in eJAS employment notes.
  • Determines whether the prospective OJT employer is an established vendor in the automated system, and, if not completes a Statewide Payee and W-9 IRS Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification form (accessible online through the Inside ESD Website eforms).
  • Determines whether a Master Agreement Number exists and is current in JAS. If no Master Agreement Number exists, follow this procedure:
  • Make sure you have the signed a WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreements and WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions from the employer. (See step 3 above.)
  • Creates the Master Agreement Number in JAS. (Consult ESD WF Internal Controls chapter on On-The-Job Contracts).
  • Closes the JS component.
  • Enters the OT component code and employment information in eJAS. The OT component may be entered for a future date. The OT component dates automatically fill as the start and end date on the OJT Training contract in JAS.
  • Creates the contract in JAS (Consult the ESD WF Internal Controls chapter regarding On-The-Job Contracts).
  • Prints 4 copies of the OJT contract.
  • Prints all vouchers for the contract period.
  • Prints all WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Evaluation Forms for the contract period.
  • The Career Scope Supervisor reviews and then documents the review and justification for the contract in eJAS employment type notes.
  • After the Career Scope Supervisor reviews and approves the contract and also documents the review, they sign the WF On-The-Job Training contract, the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreement, and the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions. Then the Career Scope Coach and employer sign each document.
  • Delivers copies of vouchers and evaluation forms to the employer along with the individual's contract.
  • Records the service in eJAS, including employment information.
  • Notifies the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) that an OJT has been created.
  • Informs the participant to report earnings to their WFPS.
  • Monitors the individual's performance.
  • Provides support services when necessary.
  • For details on creating and modifying OJT contracts and creating and modifying OJT vouchers, refer to the ESD WF Internal Controls Manual.
  • Within three business days of obtaining all signatures, sends copies of the On-The-Job Training Contract, the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master Agreement , and the WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions to ECDD, attn: WorkFirst OJT, PO Box 9046, Olympia, WA 98507-9046.
  • Maintains the signed original WorkFirst On-The-Job Training Master AgreementWorkFirst On-The-Job Training Terms and Conditions and On-The- Job Training Contract in the local office until one quarter after the program year ends. Then the office may archive the OJT documents for six years.

The WorkFirst Program Specialist:

  • Enters the earnings in ACES 3G.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

4.3 Work Experience (WEX)

(Fully countable core)

Revised July 24, 2020

Legal References:

The Career Scope Work Experience section includes:

  • 4.3.1 What is a Career Scope Work Experience?
  • 4.3.2 Who would benefit from a Career Scope WEX?
  • 4.3.3 What are Career Scope WEX timeframes?
  • 4.3.4 What are Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements?
  • 4.3.5 What are Career Scope WEX Work Site Standards?
  • 4.3.6 Who develops the Career Scope work site development/training agreement?
  • 4.3.7 What is the process for reviewing the Career Scope WEX assignment?
  • 4.3.8 What is required to supervise (monitor), document, verify and report WEX actual hours of participation?
  • 4.3.9 Industrial Insurance coverage
  • 4.3.10 Career Scope services WEX - Step-by-Step

4.3.1 What is a Career Scope Work Experience?

A Career Scope WEX is an unpaid part-time training assignment linked with job search activities. WEX offers an opportunity for participants to practice or expand their work skills in a supportive and flexible work environment. The Career Scope WEX opportunities are typically short-term activities (up to 6 weeks). The WEX assignment provides minimal supervision and should complement the participant's career goals.

4.3.2 Who would benefit from a Career Scope WEX?

Participants with no significant barriers to employment and are otherwise appropriate for Career Scope activities may benefit from a short-term WEX. These participants have:

  • Arrangements for childcare and transportation, and
  • Been unsuccessful in job search due to:
    • Insufficient current work history,
    • Lack of one or two job skills in a new career field,
    • Insufficient current job references or,
    • Been away from the labor market for an extended period.
Note: Participants need only be deficient in one area above to be considered appropriate for a short term WEX.

4.3.3 What are Career Scope WEX Timeframes?

A Career Scope WEX assignment may be approved for up to six (6) weeks. The Career Scope Coach must review the WEX assignment prior to the end of the 5th week. The review will determine how much more time is needed (up to an additional 6 weeks) for the participant to practice or expand his/her work skills to be competitive in the local labor market.

4.3.4 What are Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Requirements?

According to state and federal law, participants cannot be required to engage in unpaid work for more hours than their monthly grant amount plus their monthly food stamp amount divided by the federal, state, or local minimum wage, whichever is higher. Career Scope Coaches coordinate with the WFPS or as shown on the WorkFirst Work Experience/Community Service FLSA Calculator hours block found in the WorkFirst Handbook to ensure that the number of hours a participant is scheduled to participate in the WEX meets FLSA requirements. For a detail summary on FLSA see Chapter 3.3.2.5 How To Deem

For nonexempt two- parent families, the maximum number of work experience hours can be split between the two parents. During the development of the WEX, the Career Scope Coach must determine if the participant is a member of a two- parent family to ensure the WEX hours do not exceed FLSA requirements.

4.3.5 What are Career Scope WEX Work Site Standards?

The Career Scope Coach, in coordination with the WorkSource business team (if available), will develop Career Scope Career Scope WEX placement sites.

  • Career Scope WEX sites may only be developed within an ESD state agency site:
  • During the development process, coordination efforts with other service providers such as CJ, WIA, etc., needs to occur in order to effectively utilize local community resources and employers.
  • The Career Scope WEX job site must meet the following standards, limitations and general conditions as outlined in the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Training Contract Terms and Conditions:
    • Must provide supervision and skills training for the participant.
    • Must submit to the Career Scope Coach a WorkFirst Monthly Time Report and Progress Review signed by the work experience provider and the participant at the time of the site visit conducted every two weeks.
    • Must not give the participant security or other access to WorkFirst participant information, such as in ACES, eJAS, JFS or Efforts to Outcome (ETO) ESD's customer management information system.

4.3.6 Who develops the Career Scope WEX Work Site Development/Training Agreement?

The Career Scope Coach develops the Career Scope WEX training site and completes all required documentation.

Prior to the creation of the WEX contract, the Career Scope Coach will use the Work Experience/Community Service FLSA Calculator, to calculate the maximum hours a household may participate in Work Experience or unpaid Community Service.

The Career Scope Coach obtains signatures on the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Master Agreement, and the WorkFirst Work Experience Training Contract Terms and Conditions, and the ESD Voluntary Enrollment Form. Then the Career Scope Coach creates the JOBS Work Experience Contract in JAS/JFS.

There is no expectation of transition to unsubsidized employment with the work site after completion of the work experience training agreement.

4.3.7 What is the process for reviewing the Career Scope WEX Assignment?

The work site supervisor must review the participant's progress at least every two weeks and complete the Work Experience Monthly Time Report and Progress Review form. The reviews address:

  • Actual hours in attendance or absent
  • Attitude
  • Communication skills
  • Grooming/Dress
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Job skills progress
  • Motivation
  • Production, and
  • Punctuality

The Work Experience Monthly Time Report and Progress Review form will be obtained from the employer during the Career Scope Coach's visits. Visits will be conducted every two weeks.

4.3.8 What is required to supervise (monitor), document, verify and report Work Experience actual hours of participation?

  • Supervising WEX participation is conducted by the WEX site supervisor.
  • WorkFirst required documentation of a participant's WEX participation is a completed Work Experience Monthly Time Report and Progress Review form submitted by the Work Experience site supervisor and given to the Career Scope Coach every two weeks.
  • ESD required documentation of a participant’s volunteer WEX participation is a completed ESD Volunteer Enrollment form and ESD Volunteer Timesheet submitted by the Work Experience site supervisor and given to the Career Scope Coach no later than the end of each month of the WEX contract.
  • Verification of participation will be accomplished by:
    • Career Scope Coach will receive the Work Experience Time Report and Progress Review ensuring this form is completed and signed by the site supervisor and the participant when conducting on site visits every two weeks.
    • Career Scope Coach will discuss any questions of participation with the site supervisor and the participant.
  • Recording actual hours:
    • Career Scope Coach will review the Work Experience Time Report and Progress Review form, and record actual hours of participation in eJAS (including excused and unexcused absences).
    • Actual hours will be record twice monthly, but no later than the 10th of the month following the month in which they occurred.
  • Record Keeping:
    • Records (the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Master Agreement , the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Training Contract Terms & Conditions,  the JOBS Work Experience Contract, the Work Experience/Community Service FLSA Calculator (Fair Labor Standards Act),  the ESD Voluntary Enrollment Form, and the ESD Volunteer Timesheet.
    • Local WorkFirst offices make all copies of the WEX contracts and forms stated above and keep copies in their local office for (1) full quarter past the end of the current program year then archive for 6 years.
    • Local WorkFirst offices will submit the original WEX contracts and forms stated above to the ECDD WorkFirst Administrative Unit with in 5 business days of creating the WEX contracts .The WF Administrative Unit will  keep the original WEX Contracts and forms for (1) full quarter past the end of the current program year then archive for 6 years.

4.3.9 Who pays for Industrial Insurance Coverage? RCW 51.12.035

State and federal law also requires a participant in work experience be covered by state industrial insurance for medical aid benefits. This coverage is sometimes referred to as L&I.

  1. Career Scope WEX sites may only be developed within an ESD state agency site only.
  2. The ECDD WorkFirst Administrative Unit will forward the ESD Volunteer Enrollment form and the ESD Volunteer Timesheet to the ESD Payroll Services-WEX Unit for Industrial Insurance processing.

4.3.10 Career Scope WEX - Step-by-step guide

  1. The Career Scope Coach establishes an ESD WEX by:
    1. Interviewing an eligible participant who would benefit from WEX.
    2. Discussing with an eligible participant the appropriate work site opportunities.
    3. Determining and coordinating the stacked activities with other service providers, i.e. college, to ensure the participant remains in full time participation prior to commencing the WEX.
    4. Determining with the WFPS or as shown on the WorkFirst Work Experience/Community Service FLSA Calculator, monthly/weekly hours block, the number of hours the participant may participate in a WEX.
    5. Developing WEX work sites and coordinating with Community Jobs and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) providers to avoid duplication of effort.
    6. Creating a WEX Agreement to:
      1. Discuss work site standards, limitations, and general conditions with the approving authority for the work site.
      2. Negotiate an agreement with the work site provider and sign the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Master Agreement , the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Training Contract Terms & Conditions and the ESD Voluntary Enrollment Form.  
      3. State the specific job duties to reflect the skills to be learned or enhanced.
      4. Justify the Work Experience. The Career Scope Supervisor must document the justification for the WEX in eJAS notes prior to signing Work Experience documents.
      5. Prior to the participant starting the Work Experience Contract all signatures must be obtained from the Career Services Coach, the WEX participant, the Career Scope Supervisor and the WEX work site supervisor. The participant may sign to acknowledge the contract.
      6. ESD is responsible to pay the L&I premium for all Career Scope Work Experience performed for any department within the ESD agency. Arrange and submit the ESD Volunteer form and the ESD Volunteer Timesheet to the ECDD WorkFirst Admin Unit for processing.
      7. Advise the work site provider of the requirement to complete and turn in  the Work Experience Monthly Time Report and Progress Review and the ESD Volunteer Timesheet to the ESD Career Coach at each WorkFirst visit.
      8. The Career Scope Coach must mail the ESD Volunteer Enrollment form  at the beginning of each WEX contract, the Work Experience Monthly Time Report and Progress Review every two weeks, and the ESD Volunteer Timesheet monthly to the: Employment Security Department, ECDD WorkFirst Admin Unit., WEX Coordinator, P.O. Box 9046 , Olympia , WA 98507-9046
    7. Documenting on the eJAS Notes Screen:
      1. Work site name, location, supervisor, and supervisor's phone number.
      2. Start and end dates of WEX agreement.
      3. Days and hours of participation.
      4. Skill sets to be practiced or expanded.
      5. List all stacked activities that will ensure participant remains in full time participation.
      6. Documentation of progress and on-site visits every 2 weeks.
    8. Entering *WE on Component Screen in eJAS.
    9. Register the General Agreement in eJAS.
    10. Create the JOBS Work Experience Contract in JAS/JFS.
    11. Coordinating with the WFPS to update the IRP to include stacked activities with the Work Experience.
  2. The Career Scope Coach:
    1. Accompanies the eligible participant to the Work Experience training site for initial introductions.
    2. Provides the employer with the Work Experience Monthly Time Report and Progress Review form. This form will be returned to the Career Scope Coach during the on sites visits every two weeks.
    3. Documents the participant's progress in eJAS Notes for attendance, attitude, communication skills, grooming/dress, interpersonal relationships, job skills progress, motivation, production, and punctuality after each 2 week visit.
    4. Records actual hours of participation, excused absences and other information concerning participation in eJAS.
    5. Forwards the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Master Agreement, the WorkFirst Work Experience (WEX) Training Contract Terms & Conditions, the JOBS Work Experience Contract, the Work Experience/Community Service FLSA Calculator (Fair Labor Standards Act) and the ESD Voluntary Enrollment form to the ECDD WorkFirst Administrative Unit , WEX Coordinator PO BOX 9046, Olympia WA 98507-9046, within 5 business days of the WEX Contract start date.
    6. Forwards the Work Experience Monthly Time Report and Progress Review every two weeks and the ESD Volunteer Timesheet monthly to the: Employment Security Department, ECDD WorkFirst Admin Unit, WEX Coordinator, P.O. Box 9046 , Olympia , WA 98507-9046.
    7. Authorizes Support Services when needed.
    8. Meets with the participant at the end of the 5th week to review the participant's overall progress, determines next steps, and documents as part of Continuous Activity Planner:
      1. If the participant is ready to resume job search or
      2. If other activities would be more appropriate.
    9. Modifies the WEX Agreement as needed to include:
      1. Extending the period of time in the agreement
      2. Extending the WE on the Component Screen
      3. Coordination with the WFPS to continue stacked activities for fulltime participation.
  3. The WorkFirst Program Specialist will do the following actions:
    1. Updates the IRP to include the stacked activities.
    2. Enters new component codes for stacked activities.
  4. The ECDD WorkFirst Unit will:
    1. Date stamps the WEX contract forms and documentation when received.
    2. Verifies all documents for the correct information including the WorkFirst Work Experience/Community Service FLSA Calculator for the correct hours per the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    3. Makes copies of the ESD Volunteer Enrollment forms and the ESD Volunteer Time Report to include in the WEX file and document the date when forwarding the originals to the ESD Payroll Services-WEX Unit for the Industrial Insurance processing.
    4. Monitors the WEX contract to ensure timelines are kept.
*Note: The WE component is also used for internships and practicum. For more on internships and practicum see Section 7.5.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

Chapter 5: Pathways to Employment

5.1 Pregnancy to Employment

Created on: 
Apr 09 2018

Revised December 1, 2021

(Infant Exemption)

Legal References:

The Pregnancy to Employment section includes:

  • 5.1.1 What is Pregnancy to Employment?
  • 5.1.2 Who must participate in Pregnancy to Employment?
  • 5.1.3 What is a Pregnancy to Employment full comprehensive assessment?
  • 5.1.4 What is a partial Pregnancy to Employment assessment?
  • 5.1.5 When to conduct a full vs. a partial Pregnancy to Employment assessment?
  • 5.1.6 What additional assessments are required?
  • 5.1.7 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they enter Pregnancy to Employment?
  • 5.1.8 What are the participation requirements during the first and second trimester?
  • 5.1.9 What are the participation requirements during the third trimester?
  • 5.1.10 What are the participation requirements after the child is born?
  • 5.1.11 What is the "infant exemption" and "toddler exemption" (previously known as infant exemption extension)?
  • 5.1.12 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they choose to claim the infant or toddler exemption?
  • 5.1.13 What is the "12-week postpartum exemption period"?
  • 5.1.14 How is the participant identified in eJAS once s/he chooses to claim the "12-week postpartum exemption period"?
  • 5.1.15 What are the Pregnancy to Employment participation options and requirements?
  • 5.1.16 What is WorkFirst Family Literacy?
  • 5.1.17 What is First Steps?
  • 5.1.18 Can a participant in Pregnancy to Employment be sanctioned?
  • 5.1.19 eJAS Codes
  • 5.1.20 Pregnancy to Employment - Step-by-step guide

5.1.1 What is Pregnancy to Employment?

Pregnancy to Employment (P to E) provides a way for participants to:

  • Build a healthy family relationship,
  • Prepare them for engagement in WorkFirst activities while assuring the family's medical and other needs are addressed, and
  • Become self-sufficient.

The goal of P to E is to provide services that allow participants to learn how to work, look for work or prepare for work while still meeting the family's needs. Each participant in P to E must participate in an assessment with the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) to decide which activities best meet the participant's needs. The activities required depend on:

  • The results of the assessment,
  • Where the participant is in their pregnancy or the age of the child, and
  • Services available in the community.

5.1.2 Who must participate in Pregnancy to Employment?

Every pregnant person or parent(s) receiving TANF/SFA with a child under the age of two years is a mandatory participant in P to E. In a two-parent household, both parents are participants and must receive an assessment by a WFSSS.

Note:  Schedule an assessment using an ACES General Appointment Letter (50-05), the eJAS appointment letter, or in the IRP.

5.1.3 What is a Pregnancy to Employment full comprehensive assessment?

The full comprehensive assessment helps to identify family needs and determine which WorkFirst services are appropriate, as available within the community. In order to complete a full assessment, the WFSSS must discuss and document all issue areas in the eJAS Pathway Development Tool (PDT). See WFHB 3.2.3.

Based on the results of the full assessment and any other available information (i.e. Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), Equal Access, medical reports, etc.) the WFSSS or WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) works with the participant to develop an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) to participate in activities that:

  • Offer a combination of services that help to resolve the issues and at the same time prepares the participant for work, and
  • Provide a base from which the participant can start building and adding on activities that help lead to self-sufficiency.

NOTE: Use the DSHS 14-012 Consent to Exchange Information for Services Coordination when exchanging highly protected (special records) information with another service provider.

5.1.4 What is a partial P to E assessment?

A partial assessment includes a minimum requirement to identify if the family's circumstances have changed and the family's needs require the department to address any potential issues such as mental health, chemical dependency, etc. The eJAS PDT is also used to document a partial P to E assessment (See WFHB 3.2.3).

To fulfill partial assessment minimum requirements, the WFSSS must cover the following:

  • Who is in the household besides the mother and child under two?
  • What type of family support is available?
  • Assess for all of the following:
    • Family Violence.
    • Family Planning.
    • First Steps.
    • Chemical Dependency.
    • Mental Health.
    • Child and adult health needs.
    • Documentation of involvement with WIC, prenatal care provider or pediatrician.
    • Activities the parent can engage in.

5.1.5 When to conduct a full vs. partial P to E assessment?

WorkFirst staff must schedule all P to E assessments within 30 days of the referral.

A participant must complete a full comprehensive assessment when the department first becomes aware they are:

  • Pregnant or
  • Parenting a child under the age of two.

NOTE: Don't require the other parent in a 2-parent household to complete a full assessment or any assessment before the baby is born.

A partial P to E assessment requirement applies to:

  • Both parents when they report the birth of the child, or
  • The parent choosing the infant or toddler exemption, or 12-week postpartum exemption that doesn't have a full nor partial completed assessment since the birth of the child, or
  • The other parent if added to the grant after the birth of the child.

NOTE: The WFSSS may require a partial assessment at any time if information received indicates there are mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.

5.1.6 What additional assessments are required?

If mental health or chemical dependency is identified in the P to E assessment, the WFSSS refers the parent to a professional for an in-depth assessment to support the initial identification.

  • Persons with an identified need for mental health are referred to a professional for medical corroboratory evidence to determine whether the parent needs mental health services.
  • Persons with an identified need for chemical dependency are referred to a Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP) for a chemical dependency assessment to determine whether the parent needs chemical dependency treatment.

Persons with an identified need for mental health and chemical dependency are referred to the appropriate professional for more in-depth evaluations.

5.1.7 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they enter Pregnancy to Employment?

PI (Pregnancy/Child under two) is the indicator component code used to identify P to E participants on the Component Screen in eJAS.

The PI indicator code allows staff to track and monitor all of their P to E participants. The PI component is NOT an activity; it is an identifier. Another component, such as GE or XP, should always go with the PI component, unless the parent/caregiver is is not required to participate, or is choosing not to participate, because they are:

  • In their third trimester of pregnancy,
  • Choosing the Infant or Toddler Exemption or,
  • The non-participating parent in a two-parent household.

WF staff should enter the PI component with zero hours for a maximum of 21 months. You may want to use the length of the component as a tickler for the pathway milestones. 

Note: Staff need to create a new PI component to capture months more than 21.

For example, a participant reports a pregnancy with an estimated due date. The WFSSS/WFPS may then set the end date of the PI code to coincide with the date the participant enters the third trimester, the date the baby is due or every three months until the date the baby reaches two years of age.

If there is a future estimated due date on the eJAS Client Demographic screen and no active PI component on the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen, the WFPS/WFSSS receives a pop-up message notifying a PI component is needed.

5.1.8 What are the participation requirements during the first and second trimester?

In the first and second trimester of pregnancy, participation is based upon the results of the assessment and may include work, looking for work or a combination of pregnancy to employment services. A pregnant person is required to participate full-time during the first two trimesters of pregnancy unless they have a good reason to participate fewer hours.

5.1.9 What are the participation requirements during the third trimester?

The third trimester of pregnancy starts 90 days before the estimated due date. For example, if the estimated due date is 7/14, the third trimester starts on 4/15. Please use the Defining 3rd Trimester Tip Sheet to determine the start date of the third trimester.

In the third trimester of pregnancy, participation for the pregnant participant is based upon the results of the full assessment and the participant may:

  • Be required to participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation, or an assessment, indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment (unless medical evidence indicates that the participant is not able to participate in any activity),or

  • In Parental Education Project pilot sites only, be required to participate up to 20 hours per week in parental education if the comprehensive evaluation or specialized assessment indicates a need for parental education or parenting skills training, or

  • Participate in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis, if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues, or

  • Choose not to participate in WorkFirst activities until delivery date, if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.

Note: All pregnant minor participants must be actively participating in high school diploma or equivalency completion programs to remain eligible for benefits, therefore, they are not eligible to take the 3rd trimester exemption (see WAC 388-486-0010.)

If a mental health or chemical dependency professional indicates that a participant should do more than 20 hours per week of treatment, we should encourage them to participate in the number of hours recommended; however, we can only require 20 hours per week of participation. If they refuse to participate in required available treatment, follow the good cause process. Indicate the appropriate participation status on the "Component/IRP Information Screen" by selecting if the participant is:

•Required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment;

•Required to participate in parental education or parent skills training in Parental Education Project pilot sites only;

•Volunteering to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment; or

•Exempt from participating.

Note:  See section 3.5.2.4 before lifting a sanction in the third trimester.

5.1.10 What are the participation requirements after the child is born?

After the child is born, the participant(s) receiving TANF cash assistance:

  • Must, at minimum, complete a partial assessment with a WFSSS to assess the participant(s) needs for continued services when the child is born or prior to choosing the infant or toddler exemption, or postpartum exemption if no assessment has been completed since the child was born.
  • May choose to take the infant exemption, toddler exemption or postpartum exemption and not participate in WorkFirst activities until the child reaches the age of two years (only one parent living in the household can claim this exemption at any given time).
  • May volunteer to fully participate in WorkFirst activities (see WAC 388-310-0300).
  • May choose to take the 12-week postpartum exemption period if the participant used all of their 730 day lifetime infant or toddler exemption and chooses not to participate in WorkFirst activities until the child reaches 12 weeks of age.
  • Must participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment (unless medical evidence indicates that participant isn't able to participate in any activity).
  • Must participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for parental education or parent skills training in Parental Education Project pilot sites only.
  • Must complete a comprehensive evaluation or assessment once the participant reaches 365 days in the infant or toddler exemption. A partial assessment may be appropriate based on any information received that indicates there are mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.

If a participant qualifies for the infant exemption, toddler exemption, or postpartum exemption, has no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues per the comprehensive evaluation or P to E assessment(s) and chooses to participate in WorkFirst activities the department won't pursue sanction if we learn they are no longer participating as required in their IRP.

Take the following steps when the participant stops participating:

  • Send the Pregnancy to Employment Infant Exemption letter giving the parent 10-day notice that we plan to put them into Infant or Toddler Exemption status.
  • If the participant contacts their worker within the 10 days and wants to continue participating, update the IRP as needed and don't enter the IE or TE component.
  • If the participant doesn't contact you:
    • Close the activity(ies) at the end of the 10-day period, and
    • Enter the infant exemption (IE) for families with a child under one year old, until (whichever comes first):
      • The child's first birthday,
      • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
      • 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
    • Enter the toddler exemption (TE) for families with a one year old child, until (whichever comes first):
      • The child's second birthday,
      • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
      • 730 days if the total number of days in the IE or TE has exceeded 365.

Staff must also document in eJAS "Pregnancy/Parenting" notes the period of time the participant is taking the infant or toddler exemption and that they provided the letter.

Note: If a discrepancy in the number of infant exemption days used is identified, review the following information to determine if:   

  • TANF closed while the IE was being counted,
  • The participant was in an activity meeting minimum participation requirements,
  • There wasn't a child under one in the AU while the IE was being counted,
  • The IE component ‘Actual End Date’ field reflects the correct end date.

If the Actual End Date entered doesn’t reflect the date the IE should have been closed, contact Customer Support with the following information requiring an update:

  • The correct Actual End Date
  • The correct number of days used in the IE component

The IE counter located on the eJAS Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen tracks and identifies how many days of IE have been used by the participant.

Note: At this time, the TE counter displays but isn't functional. Please continue to calculate TE days manually. Additionally, even though WF staff can add TE components, IT Solutions Customer Support can't data fix or make adjustments to them.

If the participant stops participating in required mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment, start the good cause process whether or not the participant is using the IE or TE.  If the participant chose to use their IE or TE and enters sanction, they continue using their exemption. 

If a mental health or chemical dependency professional indicates that a participant should do more than 20 hours per week of treatment, encourage the participant to participate in the number of hours recommended; however, we can only REQUIRE 20 hours per week of participation.

5.1.11 What is the "infant exemption" and "toddler exemption"?

Participants can choose to be excused from participating in WorkFirst activities during months that they're needed in the home to personally provide care for their child(ren) under two years of age. Participants have a personal responsibility to decide whether to choose the infant or toddler exemption. The exemptions aren't automatic; participants must choose to claim the exemption.

The infant and toddler exemption options serve as a safety net to allow participants to be in the home with their child for the early stages of development while still having WorkFirst opportunities available. Encouraging voluntary WorkFirst participation is important since the exemption doesn’t stop the 60-month TANF time limit clock.

When offering either exemption, staff must remind the participant of the benefits of participating in WorkFirst activities, such as:

  • Employment and training opportunities,
  • Enhancement of skills,
  • Support services and childcare.

All rules of the Infant Exemption (IE) apply to the Toddler Exemption (TE) except that the age requirement has expanded to one year old children and the lifetime limit has increased to 730 days.

  • Infant Exemption – Exemption from WorkFirst activities for participants with a child under the age of one.
  • Toddler Exemption – Exemption from WorkFirst activities for participants with a one year old child. 
  • Use of the Infant Exemption and/or Toddler Exemption can’t exceed 730 days in a participant’s lifetime on TANF.
  • The extension of the infant exemption to children under the age of two changes the way we code them in eJAS:
    • IE - Infant Exemption for a child under one year old
    • TE - Infant Exemption for a one year old child
  • Any combination of the IE and TE can be used for up to 730 days, but only one exemption can be used at any given time. If a household has multiple children under the age of two, use the infant or toddler exemption for the youngest child.

Note: If a discrepancy in the number of infant exemption days used is identified, review the following information to determine if:   

  • TANF closed while the IE was being counted,
  • The participant was in an activity meeting minimum participation requirements,
  • There wasn't a child under one in the AU while the IE was being counted,
  • The IE component ‘Actual End Date’ field reflects the correct end date.

If the Actual End Date entered doesn’t reflect the date the IE should have been closed, contact Customer Support with the following information requiring an update:

  • The correct Actual End Date
  • The correct number of days used in the IE component

Until additional system changes become available, Customer Support won't be able to make adjustments to the TE component. 

Only the custodial parent(s) can claim the infant or toddler exemption; needy relatives/caregivers aren’t eligible for this exemption unless they have legally been given parental rights.

Unmarried parenting minors can choose to take the IE for up to 12 weeks after the birth of the child.  After the 12 weeks, they're subject to the school attendance requirement for unmarried parenting minors. 

Only one participant living in the household with a child under two years old (even if there are two infants/toddlers in the household) can claim an infant or toddler exemption at any given time, for a maximum of 730 days in a lifetime, not to exceed 730 days. Participants choosing to use the infant or toddler exemption may:

  • Be required to participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment, or
  • Be required to participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for parental education or parent skills training in Parental Education Project pilot sites only, or
  • Participate in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.
  • Choose not to participate in WorkFirst activities for a set period of time or until the child turns two years of age if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.

Remind the participant that they can only claim the infant or toddler exemption for 730 days in a lifetime.  Then tell the participant what their required participation is, if they DO claim the infant or toddler exemption, and if they DO NOT claim an exemption.  This gives the participant the information they need to decide whether to claim the exemption.  

Upon 365 days in either exemption (or combination of the two), WorkFirst staff must schedule an annual comprehensive evaluation update appointment for the participant to review their situation and determine if they need any additional services.  WFPS may require a new Pregnancy to Employment assessment at this time if deemed necessary. 

Example One: The assessment indicates a need for three hours a week of chemical dependency treatment.  You explain that the treatment is required and if the participant doesn’t want to claim the exemption they are required to do an additional 17 hours of another approved activity.  The participant decides to use the infant exemption. Code the required treatment hours and infant exemption, and track treatment participation.  
Example Two: The assessment indicates a need for two hours a week of mental health treatment. Based on medical evidence, the participant is unable to do anything but mental health treatment for at least the next six months.  You explain that participation requirements are the same, whether or not the participant uses the infant exemption.  The participant decides not to use the infant exemption.  You code the treatment and track participation, but don’t code an IE.   
Example Three: Based on the assessment, there are no mental health, chemical dependency or other barriers and the participant is working five hours per week. You explain that if the infant exemption isn't used, there are requirements to participate in other activities to bring participation up to 20 hours per week.  The participant uses the infant exemption and continues to keep working voluntarily.  Code the infant exemption and work hours. We can provide support services and childcare because employment increases their self-sufficiency.
Example Four: This is a two-parent household.  Based on the assessment and medical evidence, parent one is exempt due to a disability and parent two has no barriers.  You explain that only one parent can claim the exemption, parent one won’t be required to participate (whether or not they claim the infant exemption) and parent two needs to participate at least 35 hours per week if they don't claim the infant exemption. Parent two decides to use the infant exemption so they can care for parent one and newborn. You code parent one with an XB and parent two with an IE.
Example Five: A participant applies in September.  The participant opts for the toddler exemption for their 13 month old child (TE) and have only used three months of the exemption. The participant reapplies in June and now has a newborn child.  The participant wants to opt for the infant exemption for the newborn (IE) even though there are two qualifying children in the home. Once the newborn turns 9 months old, the participant exhausts 365 days between the Infant and Toddler Exemption.  The WFPS mails an engagement appointment. There are no mandatory requirements and the participant wants to continue providing care for the infant.  The participant continues taking the Infant Exemption for the newborn (IE) through the newborn's first birthday.  Once the newborn turns one, close the IE component and open the TE component.

 

It is essential to document in the eJAS “Pregnancy/Parenting” note type whether a participant chooses either exemption. If the participant chooses the infant or toddler exemption, document the period of time the participant is choosing to take it.

The department contacts a participant choosing either exemption who isn’t engaged in any other WorkFirst activities once every three months to:

  • Offer available services and/or referrals.
  • Remind them that they can choose to end the exemption and engage in WorkFirst activities at any time.

The three-month contact may be either by a letter or telephone. (WorkFirst staff must document the contact in eJAS and update the IRP, if necessary)

5.1.12 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they choose to claim the infant or toddler exemption?

Component code IE identifies participants who are choosing the infant exemption for a child under the age of one and the TE to identify participants who are choosing the infant exemption for a one year old child. The component codes are:

  • For DSHS staff use only
  • Not able to generate support services
  • ONLY for parents who choose to use their exemption
  • Time limited (not to exceed 730 days)

Don't use this code for any other reason. Using this code for any other reason makes a participant's exemption count inaccurate.

eJAS tracks and display the total number of days a participant uses their infant exemption in the "Number of days in IE" field on the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen. Remember, TE days must be tracked manually at this time.

When opening the IE or TE component, the WFPS/WFSSS are required to indicate the appropriate participation status for participant's choosing to take the exemption on the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status" field by indicating if the participant is:

  • Required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment;
  • Volunteering to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment; or
  • Exempt from participating (choosing not to participate in any activities).

WorkFirst staff:

  • Use the eJAS component IE to identify the infant exemption period for a child under one.
  • Use the eJAS component TE to identify the infant exemption period for a one year old child.
  • After entering the IE or TE code, select the participation status.
  • Document the period of time a participant wants to take the infant exemption in eJAS notes under the "Pregnancy to Employment" note type.
  • Enter the IE or TE start date as the date the participant notifies the department that they want to claim either exemption.
  • Enter the infant exemption (IE) end date for families with a child under one year old, until (whichever comes first):
    • The child’s first birthday,
    • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
    • 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
  • Enter the toddler exemption (TE) end date for families with a one year old child, until (whichever comes first):
    • The child’s second birthday,
    • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
    • 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
  • Use the Caseload Management Report (CLMR) and/or ad hoc report to monitor these cases.
  • Encourage participation in WorkFirst activities during this time-limited opportunity.

Note:

WorkFirst participants may choose to use their infant or toddler exemption when needed in the home to personally provide care for their child under two years of age whether they are receiving TANF for that child or not.

If the child under two years old isn't on the TANF assistance unit, add the child as a non-member in ACES 3G.  This lets eJAS know that the participant has a child under two years old in the home and eJAS allows you to code the IE or TE.

5.1.13 What is the 12-week postpartum exemption period?

Participants who have already claimed the infant or toddler exemption (or a combination of the two) for a maximum of 730 days can request an additional 12-week postpartum exemption period (84 days) if they have another child. This period allows participants to spend time with the newborn before they must participate in WorkFirst activities.

A participant can participate in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis during this period if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues. If a participant qualifies for a postpartum exemption period, has no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues per the P to E assessment(s) and chooses to participate in WorkFirst activities the department doesn't pursue sanction if we learn that a participant is no longer participating as written in the IRP.

Take the following steps when the participant stops participating:

  • Send the Pregnancy to Employment Infant Exemption letter giving the parent 10-day notice that we plan to put them into the 12-week postpartum exemption period status.
  • If the participant contacts their worker within the 10 days and wants continue participating, update the IRP as needed and don't enter the IE or TE.
  • If the participant doesn't contact you:
    • Close the activity(ies) at the end of the 10-day period, and
    • Enter the postpartum exemption period (PD) until the child turns 12 weeks of age (not to exceed 84 days).

Staff must also document in eJAS "Pregnancy/Parenting" notes the period of time the participant is taking the PD and that the letter was provided.

If the comprehensive evaluation or other assessment(s) indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment the participant must participate up to 20 hours per week.

A participant may choose to not participate in WorkFirst activities for a set period of time or until the child turns 12-weeks of age if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues. Only one parent living in the household can claim this 12-week postpartum exemption, not to exceed 84 days, at any given time.

5.1.14 How is the participant identified in eJAS once s/he chooses to claim the 12-week postpartum exemption period?

Use component code PD to identify participants who choose to take the 12-week postpartum exemption period. This indicator component code is:

  • For DSHS staff use only.
  • Not able to generate support services.
  • ONLY to be used for participants who have exhausted their infant exemption and infant and toddler exemption and choose to use their 12-week postpartum exemption period.
  • Time limited (not to exceed 84 days).

When opening the PD component, the WFPS/WFSSS is required to indicate the appropriate participation status for participant's choosing to take the PD on the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status" field by indicating if the participant is:

  • Required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment;
  • Volunteering to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment; or
  • Exempt from participating (choosing not to participate in any activities).

WorkFirst staff:

  • Use the eJAS component PD to identify the 12-week postpartum exemption period.
  • After entering the PD indicator code, select the participant's participation status.
  • Document the period of time a participant wants to take the 12-week postpartum exemption period in eJAS notes under the "Pregnancy to Employment" note type.
  • Enter the PD start date as the date the participant notifies the department that they wants to claim the 12-week postpartum exemption period and an end date of the elected 12-week postpartum exemption period, not to exceed 84 days.
  • Use the Caseload Management Report (CLMR) and/or ad hoc report to monitor these cases.

Encourage WorkFirst activities as the 12-week postpartum exemption period is limited to 84 days for each child after they have exhausted their infant or toddler exemption.

5.1.15 What are the Pregnancy to Employment participation options and requirements?

A parent's IRP and activities should reflect a steady progression towards work, looking for work, or preparing for work, as well as having a healthy and thriving child. P to E activities may include linking parents to:

  • Parenting education or parenting skills training
  • Safe and appropriate child care,
  • How to obtain good health care,
  • Life Skills classes with parenting components,
  • Mental health treatment,
  • Chemical dependency treatment,
  • Family violence services,
  • Education and training, or
  • Employment services.

Staff must continue to engage parents in WorkFirst activities that moves them most effectively toward economic stability.

The Pregnancy to Employment Participation and Coding Quick Guide, also located in the Forms & Other Resources section, details participation requirements while the person is pregnant and after the child is born.

5.1.16 What is WorkFirst Family Literacy?

Known in some locations as Families That Work, WorkFirst Literacy Skills Center, etc. (check your local college or CBO WorkFirst Delivery Agreement (WFDA) for Education and Training). Parents receive instruction in the basic skills they need to join the workforce, improve their child raising skills, and break family cycles of illiteracy. Parents served by WorkFirst Family Literacy are current WorkFirst recipients.

The goal for WorkFirst Family Literacy parents is an economically stable and literate family, with outcomes that include:

  • Basic literacy and job preparation skills;
  • Work activity for some parents or paid employment for others;
  • Wage and skill progression for working parents;
  • Family management and parenting skills; and
  • Learning success for all children in the family.

Parents participating in WorkFirst Family Literacy programs follow the same model for quantifying participation, as do our participants in other training programs. To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the parent is in the education and training activities, to include classes, labs, and supervised study halls/tutoring sessions. The college or community based organization notifies the WorkFirst case manager of the appropriate eJAS component code to use.

NOTE: Life Skills training is a countable activity for participation and Parent Education is not, though it may be an appropriate activity for the parent depending on their situation.

Parents in the WorkFirst Family Literacy program will be doing a combination of the following types of allowable activities:

  • ABE/ESL taught in the context of work skills that lead to a job;
  • Family management/parenting skills (time management, fiscal management, communication among family members, the impact of work on family life/child behavior);
  • Age appropriate education for children while the parent is involved in work and education; and,
  • Parent and child activities that help children gain the literacy skills they need to succeed in school.
  • Involvement of the parent in their child's education.

Parents are involved in work activities at the level appropriate to their skills and their IRPs. These can include volunteer experiences, WorkFirst Work-Study, Community Jobs, etc.

  • In addition to Family Literacy funded by WorkFirst, the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges (SBCTC) through the Adult Basic Education Office funds Family Literacy at community colleges in 3 locations across the state. Each provider works with community partners like DSHS WFPS's and WFSSS's, Head Start and ECEAP directors, WorkSource Center staff, and First Steps case managers.

5.1.17 What is First Steps?

The First Steps Program is designed to provide additional health care, enhanced services and case management to Washington Apple Health eligible people and infants. This program seeks to reduce parent and infant illness and death, as well as increase access to maternity and infant care for low-income families.

First Steps services include, but aren't limited to:

  • Prenatal Health Care
  • WIC
  • Pediatric Care
  • Family Planning
  • Childbirth Education
  • Lactation Consultation
  • WithinReach website (formally Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies)
  • Local community resources specific to individual needs, e.g. Domestic Violence hotline, educational resources, Crisis Clinic, mental health resources, car seats, food bank, CPR training resources, child care, transportation, interpreter services, disability services, and the Tobacco quit line
  • Referral for Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) services

The WFSSS should provide all pregnant person with information regarding the services available through the First Steps program as follows:

  • If a pregnant person reports that they are not active on Washington Apple Health (WAH) Medicaid, refer to www.wahealthplanfinder.org to apply for pregnancy medical. The Health Care Authority (HCA) generates a monthly list for First Steps providers capturing all newly identified pregnant people on Medicaid.
  • If a participant already has health insurance and reports pregnancy, share ways to access First Steps by contacting the Within Reach Family Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

For additional information about the First Steps program visit the Social Services Manual by clicking here.

5.1.18 Can a participant in Pregnancy to Employment be sanctioned?

Participants in P to E may enter sanction for:

  • Refusing to participate in an assessment with the WFSSS to identify family needs and determine what WorkFirst services are appropriate, or
  • Not participating in other WorkFirst activities. (See 3.5.1 Sanction)

When a parent enters sanction for refusing to complete an assessment and they didn't choose the infant or toddler exemption, don't code the IE or TE with the sanction. 

When a participant enters sanction for refusing to complete an assessment, and then completes an assessment lift the sanction

Note:  When the parent is at the end of their exemption period and you schedule a next steps appointment, you can't sanction the parent for not attending the appointment during the parent’s exemption period. 

5.1.19 eJAS codes

The following eJAS codes are commonly used for WorkFirst individuals engaged in P to E:

  • RO is used to refer cases to the WFSSS and to require assessments
  • PI (pregnancy/child under two) is an indicator for all participating in P to E
  • PD (postpartum exemption period) is an indicator to identify participants using the 12-week postpartum exemption period
  • IE (infant exemption) is an indicator to identify participants using their infant exemption for a child under the age of one
  • TE (toddler exemption) is an indicator to identify participants using their toddler exemption for a one year old child
  • XP is used for actual hours each week spent learning parenting skills, taking nutrition classes, choosing child care, participating in home visiting or parent education related services
  • XC is used for actual hours each week that no appropriate child care is available – or no appropriate care for an incapacitated adult

In addition to the PI identifier code, indicate the WorkFirst participation by using the appropriate eJAS codes on the component code screen as needed, to the actual hours of time spent in activities (such as XF for family violence resolution or JS for job search). It is important for tracking program progress to show the different components the participant is in.

5.1.20 Pregnancy to Employment - Step-by-step guide

The WFPS:

  1. Refers all pregnant participants or parents with children under the age of two for an assessment using appropriate eJAS codes: 
    1. RO component for a P to E assessment referral when: 
      1. The department becomes aware a participant is pregnant or parenting a child under age two. 
      2. The participant chooses the Infant or Toddler Exemption and hasn't completed an assessment since the child's birth. 
    2. PI indicator component to identify the participant is in P to E.
Note: Enter eJAS notes in the Pregnancy/Parenting category prior to entering the PI code indicating the parent is a P to E participant.

Note: On the Customer Accountability Report (CAR), participants in stand-alone PI displays in Participation Not Required (State Only) section. However, participants coded PI with other components displays in the section of the report determined appropriate based on their level of participation. For example, a participant is coded PI and 20 hours per week in PT. The participant shows in section 6 - Participation Below Full Time at WorkFirst Standard.

The WFSSS:

  1. Completes a full or partial assessment, using the eJAS Pathway Development Tool (PDT) or the DSHS 14-433(X), Intensive Services Assessment. WFSSSs may also draw upon assessments from other agencies. However, if the PDT isn't used and the DSHS 14-433(X), or another assessment form is used, all the same PDT topics should be covered and documented using the PDT. The WFSSS should assess all areas relevant to the participant and review any other available information.
  2. Uses the assessment to identify the participant's strengths, barriers, issues and needs. The assessment needs to identify what activities a participant is able to do and the maximum number of participation hours including stacking activities so they participate to the fullest of their abilities. The WFSSS makes decisions about which cases have barriers or issues that could benefit from continuing case management by the WFSSS until those issues are resolved. Other cases may be referred back to the WFPS for case management.
  3. Makes appropriate referrals, based on the assessment.
  4. Works with the WFPS, participant and other service providers (as appropriate) to build an IRP, as required, that addresses the participant's and child's needs as identified in the full or partial assessment or comprehensive evaluation.
  5. Enters (if not already entered) the PI code on the eJAS Component Screen with the accompanying component when required.

Either the WFSSS or WFPS - whomever is managing the case:

  1. Updates the IRP if participating in WorkFirst activities,
  2. Monitors/reviews on a monthly basis for attendance and progress if participating in WorkFirst activities,
  3. Doesn't pursue sanction if the participant is no longer participating as required in the IRP if they qualify for an IE, TE or PD (don't have identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues) and chooses to participate in WorkFirst activities. The following steps are taken when the participant stops participating:
    1. Sends the Pregnancy to Employment Infant Exemption letter giving the participant 10-day notice that we plan to put them into Infant Exemption status.
    2. Updates the IRP as needed and don't enter the IE or TE if the participant contacts their worker within the 10 days and wants to continue participating.
    3. Closes the activity(ies) at the end of the 10-day period, and enter the infant exemption (IE for a child under one or TE for a one year old child) if the parent doesn't contact you, until:
      1. The child's first or second birthday,
      2. 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
      3. 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
  4. After entering the IE or TE code, enters the appropriate participation status in the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status" field.
  5. If taking either exemption and not required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment, makes follow-up contact (via office interview, phone, letter or home visit) with the participant at least every three months to re-evaluate the participant's/child's needs to ensure that they are receiving the services they need.
  6. At each 3-month contact, the assigned worker offers services, resources, and remind the participant that s/he can choose to end the exemption and fully participate in the WorkFirst program.
    • If the participant chooses to end their exemption, update the IRP to reflect any changes in their activity.
  7. If taking the postpartum exemption period, enters the PD code for the time the participant is choosing to claim this exemption up to 12 weeks.
  8. After entering the PD code, enters the appropriate participation status in the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status Required" field.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

5.2 Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Pathway

Created on: 
Mar 01 2017

Revised on: May 19, 2022

Legal References:

The Limited English Proficiency Pathway section includes:

  • 5.2.1 What is the LEP Pathway?
  • 5.2.2 Who needs LEP Pathway services?
  • 5.2.3 Who are RCA recipients and what are their participation requirements?
  • 5.2.4 What are participation requirements for survivors of certain crimes and lawfully residing individuals?
  • 5.2.5 What is the comprehensive evaluation and assessment process for LEP participants?
  • 5.2.6 What are LEP Pathway participation activities?
  • 5.2.7 Can LEP participants engage in non-LEP Pathway activities?
  • 5.2.8 When should LEP participants be placed into a Community Service or Work Experience activity?
  • 5.2.9 What Job Skills Training and Customized Job Skills Training are provided through the LEP Pathway?
  • 5.2.10 When is it appropriate to code ESL as "JT" in eJAS?
  • 5.2.11 How do we claim unsupervised homework hours for ESL?
  • 5.2.12 How do we claim unsupervised homework hours for ESL when a participant drops out or is referred back?
  • 5.2.13 What steps to do you take when a participant is absent?
  • 5.2.14 Who provides LEP Pathway services?
  • 5.2.15 LEP Pathway - Step-by-Step Guide

5.2.1 What is the LEP Pathway?

The Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Pathway provides specialized culturally appropriate services to refugees and other WorkFirst participants with limited English proficiency. The goal of the LEP Pathway is to increase participants' employability and economic stability.

Key features of the Pathway are:

  • Use of bilingual and culturally appropriate services
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction
  • Specialized employment services such as job readiness training, skills training and job placement assistance, work experience and community service

All LEP participants must be screened for Equal Access (EA) services and family violence.

5.2.2 Who needs LEP Pathway services?

Anyone who is receiving cash assistance and has difficulty understanding or communicating in English should be referred to the LEP Pathway. This includes:

  • An LEP participant with ESL Level 1 through 6 who is identified by college staff or an employment contractor as needing specialized assistance to participate
  • Individuals receiving Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) or Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA)

5.2.3 Who are RCA recipients and what are their participation requirements?

Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) recipients are single or married individuals without dependents, and who can't be claimed as someone else’s dependent.  They must meet program income and resource requirements, and their immigration status must allow them to access cash assistance. RCA recipients who aren't exempt are required to meet work and training (W&T) requirements, and can be served through the LEP Pathway to meet these requirements. See WAC 388-400-0030 , 388-466-0120388-466-0005, 388-466-0150.

Individuals receiving RCA can receive cash for ONLY a 12-month period beginning in the first month they entered the United States.  For asylee (AS) and victims of trafficking (VT) clients, this is the date of their certification letter or order from the U.S. government.  Due to this short timeline, these clients need immediate, intensive job search and job placement assistance.

RCA individuals:

  • Are referred to LEP Pathway contractor as soon as possible

    • If there's no DSHS contracted LEP Pathway provider in the area, refer client to the available work and/or training provider

  • Aren't required to have an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)

  • Must have an Employability Plan (EP) and a Family Self-Sufficiency Plan developed for them

  • Must participate in work and/or training activities such as job search, ESL, skills training, etc. unless exempted

RCA follows TANF exemption criteria. RCA recipients are exempt from Work and Training (W&T) activities if they:

  • Are sixty (60) years of age or older
  • Have a severe and chronic disability
  • Are required to be in the home to care for another adult with disabilities
  • Are unable to participate in work activities because they are the victim of family violence

Age (client is sixty years of age or older) is an unconditional exemption.  For all other reasons, recipients must provide proof that they are unable to participate in the form of medical testimony or other evidence.  An exempt RCA recipient may voluntarily participate in W&T.

The W&T requirements of RCA recipients may be met through participation in the LEP Pathway. The LEP Pathway offers several participation options to enhance skills and employability. 

5.2.4 What are participation requirements for survivors of certain crimes and lawfully residing individuals?

Survivors of certain crimes may be eligible for State Family Assistance (SFA), if they meet all other eligibility requirements with the exception of immigration status. Survivors of certain crimes who qualify for SFA are required to engage in WorkFirst.

For more information on this population, please see WAC 388-424-0001 and EA-Z Manual: Citizen and Immigration Status Requirements Specific to Program – Benefits for Survivors of Certain Crimes.

Lawfully present non-qualified aliens, (also referred to as ‘lawfully residing individuals’) who qualify for SFA benefits are also subject to WorkFirst requirements. This population was formerly referred to in WFHB as PRUCOL - Permanently Residing Under Color of Law.

Note:  PRUCOL includes any noncitizen individual without official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) status who is residing and intends to reside in the U.S. indefinitely and the USCIS knows they’re residing in the U.S. but doesn’t take steps to enforce their departure. It isn’t an immigration status; rather a term formerly used to define the eligibility of certain individuals for public benefits.

Examples of lawfully residing individuals may include:

  • Applicants for asylum
  • Individuals with Suspension of Deportation granted
  • Individuals with Voluntary Departure granted

For more information, please see WAC 388-424-0001 and EA-Z Manual: Citizenship and Immigration Status Requirements for all Programs – Definitions).

Survivors of certain crimes and lawfully residing individuals may not have work authorization. They aren’t referred to employment-specific services or job search activities. Instead, they’re:

  • Excluded from work-specific participation requirements
  • Referred to LEP Pathway for ESL instruction, if their English skills are limited
  • Referred for participation in appropriate activities and services that don’t require them to have a Social Security Number (SSN) or work authorization. Examples of activities and service referrals include, but aren’t limited to:
    • Basic education or high school equivalency completion
    • Family violence services
    • Emotional & mental health services – including counseling and support groups
    • Medical services
    • Community based organizations
    • Other appropriate Office of Refugee & Immigration Assistance (ORIA) providers
  • Referred to legal services for assistance to adjust their immigration status (if desired by the participant)

Due to the unique circumstances of these populations, WorkFirst participation requirements are tailored to support the participant and their family. Actively take steps to refer and/or place participants into activities to help resolve or cope with their circumstances and create a safe environment for the family, as well as prepare for future employment if appropriate. WorkFirst participation exemptions are available to these populations, if they qualify (see WFHB 6.8).

Note: Survivors of certain crimes may be cooperating with the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the prosecution of their traffickers or perpetrators. All details of their case are confidential and they can’t talk about it, nor should they be asked to discuss the details of their case.

Survivors of certain crimes and lawfully residing individuals are identified in eJAS using the PU indicator (set at “0” hours), along with appropriate activity component, depending on assigned activities.

5.2.5 What is the comprehensive evaluation and assessment process for LEP participants?

Participants who are LEP are required to complete the comprehensive evaluation and assessments (if indicated) as applicable to all WorkFirst participants before being referred to the LEP employment pathway for bilingual and culturally appropriate services.

5.2.6 What are LEP Pathway participation activities?

The LEP Pathway offers several participation options for participants to enhance their skills and employability. Core activities are countable toward the federal TANF participation rate; however, some core activities are time-limited. Non-core activities can only be countable toward the federal TANF participation rate if they are stacked with a 20 hour per week countable core activity. See WFHB 1.2.3 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the parent’s IRP when possible.

  • FT participation can be met with standalone Pathway activities, Job Search (JS), Customized Job Skills Training (PE) or up to the monthly FLSA maximum Work Experience (WE), or Community Service (XS) within 30 days of their referral to the LEP Pathway employment contract
  • Or by ESL instruction (JT) and Job Skills Training (JT) stacked with other WorkFirst core activities

The LEP Pathway program includes:

  • “Core” activities:
    • Unsubsidized employment (FT, PT)
    • Job Search (JS) (time limited to 12 weeks)
    • Customized Job Skills Training (PE) (time limited to 12 months)
    • Community Service (XS)
    • Work Experience (WE)
  • “Non-core: Activities:
    • Job Skills Training (JT) is countable if stacked with 20 hours of core activities
    • ESL (JT) is countable if stacked with 20 hours of core activities. See 5.2.10 for detailed explanation
    • ESL (ES) is not countable towards participation

Participants in the LEP pathway should:

  • Start their pathway participation activities within 30 days after approval for TANF/SFA/RCA assistance, if able
  • Have full-time (35-40 hours a week) participation in Job Search (JS), Customized Job Skills Training (PE) or up to the monthly FLSA maximum Work Experience (WE) or Community Service (XS) within 30 days of their referral to the LEP Pathway employment contractor
  • Have ESL instruction (JT) and Job Skills Training (JT) stacked with other WorkFirst core activities
  • Accept a job offer if at any time during participation a job becomes available and has been offered, unless there's a good reason to refuse the job (for definitions of "good reason" see WAC 388-310-1600)
Note: When a participant is able, but refuses without good cause to accept a job, a sanction penalty is imposed following the Good Cause process.

Regular case staffing(s) are encouraged to review participation and progress. Anyone with an EA plan may need more time in the component activity and fewer participation hours to accommodate their additional needs.

Participants who meet participation requirements are eligible for WorkFirst support services (see WAC 388-310-0800). Those who are working full time and are still eligible for TANF cash assistance should be encouraged, but not required, to enroll in educational activities along with their employment.

5.2.7 Can LEP participants engage in non-LEP Pathway activities?

WorkFirst LEP participants can engage in activities outside the LEP pathway. The WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or Refugee Social Service Specialist (RSW) must follow the referral process as outlined in the appropriate WorkFirst chapter in those cases.

The following core activities are examples:

  • Community Jobs - CJ (Note: Some Commerce providers offer LEP CJ)
  • On-the-job Training - OT
  • Vocational Education - VE
  • High Wage High Demand Training - HW
  • High School completion or High School equivalency (age 19 or younger) - HS

Non-core activities used to stack with core activities, are also great opportunities when a participant doesn't need ESL. These activities can include:

  • High School completion (age 20 or older) - BE
  • High School equivalency (age 20 or older) - GE

The non-LEP pathway contractor or agency must report these activities, and the WFPS/RSW must review them.

5.2.8 When should LEP participants be placed into a Community Service or Work Experience activity?

Community Service is a structured unpaid work activity in which LEP TANF participants work for the direct benefit of the community under the support of a public or non-profit organization. It's a core activity that counts towards the federal participation rate and is coded as XS on the eJAS component code screen.

Participants may be determined to be best suited for Community Service if they:

  • Have little or no work experience in the U.S. and placement in this activity will provide the skills needed to be successful in the workplace
  • Need to participate in a core work activity so their participation in a non-core work activity counts towards the WorkFirst participation rate
  • Need additional core countable hours to meet minimum WorkFirst participation requirements
  • Need to participate in a work activity pending start-up of another activity (e.g. waiting for classes to begin, breaks between classes, etc.)

Work Experience (WEX) is a structured unpaid work activity, which offers an opportunity for participants to practice or expand their work skills in a supportive and flexible work environment in a public or non-profit organization. It is a core activity that counts towards the federal participation rate and is coded as WE on the eJAS component code screen.

Participants may be determined to be best suited for a WEX if they:

  • Need time to acquire job skills needed for work and need minimal case management to be successful on the worksite
  • Have work experience, but need additional experience to become competitive in the labor market
  • Need to participate in a core work activity so their participation in a non-core work activity counts towards the WorkFirst participation rate
  • Need additional core countable hours to meet minimum WorkFirst participation requirements

A Bilingual Site Supervisor can be assigned at the Community Service or WEX worksite to provide supervision and bilingual support to the participant, assisting in developing the skills, insights and attitudes that enhance their ability to advance toward eventual employment.

5.2.9 What Job Skills Training and Customized Job Skills Training are provided through the LEP Pathway?

Job skills training is a short term training that lasts up to seven weeks and enhances participant’s employability by providing instructions and teaching specific skills that are marketable to employers. This service is a non-core activity that must be stacked with a 20 hours core activity to meet federal participation rate. It is coded as JT on the eJAS component code screen.

Customized Job Skills Training (CJST), formerly known as pre-employment training, is an 8-22 week training program that is customized for specific employers or tied to a specific industry. CJSTs must include industry-specific training and be tied to jobs with good labor market demand. It's a time-limited core activity that counts towards the federal participation rate and is coded as PE on the eJAS component code screen.

5.2.10 When it is appropriate to code ESL as “JT” in eJAS?

ESL service is provided for participants with ESL levels 1-6 to assist in gaining language skills necessary to obtain and maintain employment. CASAS and ORIA-approved assessment tools are used to determine a participant’s ESL level and language skill gains, as defined by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

  • Use the JT eJAS component code for ESL when stacked with 20 hours of core activities and indicate in the participant’s Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) that ESL is a skill needed for employment

  • Use the ES eJAS component code for a stand-alone ESL activity until the participant's English proficiency is sufficient to participate in core activities

5.2.11 How do we claim unsupervised homework hours for ESL?

Only classes with an expectation of homework equal to or greater than the scheduled class hours may be eligible for claiming unsupervised homework hours. We can claim up to one hour of unsupervised homework time for each hour of actual class time attended. If there is no homework expectation, we cannot claim homework hours.

Community or technical college contractors use the WorkFirst Calculator Tool to determine and document the total number of hours per week the participant is participating, including: scheduled class time, unsupervised homework time, any scheduled supervised homework time, and the maximum number of allowable education hours. A copy of the completed WorkFirst Calculator Tool is kept in the participant's file. Community or technical college contractors combine the participant's actual attended hours with the allowable homework hours from the WorkFirst Calculator Tool to report via eJAS by the 10th of each month for the previous month as total participation hours.

Community Based Organization (CBO) contractors use the Educational and Homework Requirements Worksheet (EHRW) to document scheduled class hours and the homework expectation for the class. Contractors must keep a copy of the EHRW form in the participant's case file. To claim homework hours, CBO contractors double the participant's actual attendance hours to report via eJAS by the 10th of each month for the previous month.

5.2.12 How do we claim unsupervised homework hours for ESL when the participant drops out or is referred back?

In the event that the participant drops out or is referred back before completing their ESL class, one hour of homework time can be claimed for each actual class time hour attended by the participant if the homework expectation hours are equal to or greater than the scheduled class hours. This applies to community or technical college and CBO contractors.

Example: A participant is scheduled to go to class for 12 hours a week for three months. They drop out or are referred back after only two weeks of ESL class, with 18 hours of total class time attendance. 36 total participation hours may be claimed for the participant (18 attendance hours plus 18 unsupervised homework hours).

5.2.13 What steps do you take when a participant is absent?

After two excused absences in a calendar month, the WorkFirst partner/contractor:

  • Sends an immediate notification to the WFPS/RSW
  • Keeps the activity open
  • Contacts the participant and WFPS/RSW to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the participant back to DSHS

Unexcused Absences

After two unexcused absences in a calendar month, the WorkFirst partner/contractor:

  • Sends an immediate notification to the WFPS/RSW to initiate the good cause/sanction process
  • Keeps the activity open
  • Contacts the participant and WFPS/RSW to discuss next steps, including if it's appropriate to refer the participant back to DSHS

For more on how to treat excused and unexcused absences, please refer to section 3.7.1.5.

5.2.14 Who provides LEP Pathway services?

LEP Pathway contractors are contracted through the DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA) to provide ESL instruction and employment services to refugees and TANF participants. They:

  • Conduct/arrange CASAS test and ORIA approved assessment tools to determine a participant’s ESL proficiency level (LEP Pathway ESL Competency Levels)
  • Document the ESL Level and the date of the test in eJAS Demographics Screen
  • Determine employability and develop an Employment Plan (EP) with full-time (35-40 hours a week) participation
  • Consult with the DSHS WFPS/RSW to change/finalize the participant's IRP
  • Provide/arrange necessary and culturally appropriate WorkFirst employment services. Provide/arrange ESL instruction, if needed
  • Communicate the participant's employment status to the Community Services Office (CSO), document scheduled attendance, actual participating hours and any other changes on a monthly basis in the eJAS

For a complete list of contracted LEP Pathway contractors by region, and their current eJAS contractor codes please see the LEP Pathway Contractors list.

5.2.15 LEP Pathway - Step-by-step guide

  1. After eligibility is established and cash assistance is approved, the WFPS/RSW:
    1. Completes the eJAS comprehensive evaluation in the Pathway Development Tool (See section WFHB 3.2 - Comprehensive Evaluation for more information).
    2. Provides family planning and family violence information in the participant's primary language and makes necessary referrals.
    3. Refers the participant to RSW/Social Service Specialist (SW) for intensive services if there are barriers to participation or an emergent issue(s). The RSW/SW determines whether the participant needs EA/NSA services and appropriate activities.
    4. After completing the comprehensive evaluation or assessment, discuss the LEP Pathway and if participant chooses this option, refers the participant to the LEP Pathway contractor. If there are no barriers, for ESL level testing and creation of an Employment Plan:
      1. Enters LP and ES components with 0 participation hours for 10 business days. ES component is used to indicate a referral to the employment contractor for ESL testing and creation of the employment plan.
      2. Enters the LEP Pathway contractor code to both the LP and ES components by clicking on the "Add a Contractor" link above the components. (For help with Contractor code click the question mark "?" or use the LEP Pathway Contractors List.) The ES contractor code is opened to allow the contractor electronic access to the case in eJAS. The LP contractor code is opened to allow the WFPS/RSW to create the initial IRP.
      3. Creates an IRP from the LP component for ESL testing and completion of EP with chosen contractor.
      4. Creates/completes a referral to the contractor with:
        • Contractor's agency name and code
        • Contact person name and phone number
        • Referral type - Participation
        • participant's primary language
        • Description of expected specific activities (ESL testing, recommendations for EP) in Comments section
        • Signed Authorization for Release of Information on file
      5. E-Messages the referral to the contractor,
      6. Prints the referral for the participant and explains that it is their responsibility to contact the contractor.
    5. If the LEP participant is a returner, asks if they are already working with a contractor. If yes, generates a referral to this contractor and continues working with the case as usual. When referring the participant to a different contractor, notifies the previous contractor immediately.
  2. The LEP Pathway contractor:
    1. Accepts the ES component by entering the date when the referral is accepted.
    2. Makes all efforts to contact the participant as soon as possible to make an appointment.
    3. Reviews the referral and meets with the participant for a one-on-one interview.
    4. Conducts/arranges for the CASAS language testing.
    5. Enters the ESL level and CASAS test date on the Client Demographic Screen and in the Client Notes.
    6. If the ESL level is 1 through 6:
      1. Reviews together with the participant their previous education, training, work history, skills and occupational goals to determine appropriate activities.
      2. Discusses WorkFirst participation requirements with the participant and develops a written Employment Plan.
      3. Completes the eJAS Client Notes and e-Messages to WFPS/RSW information about the first meeting, recommends employment activities, and explains why they may be beneficial. Indicates if any of the following activities are recommended:
        • ESL instructions only
        • ESL instructions when combined with other activities as a skill needed for employment
        • Skills Enhancement training when meeting the 20 hour core participation
        • Customized Job Skills Training
        • Community Service
        • Work Experience
        • Job Search
        • Other non-LEP Pathway employment services deemed necessary (i.e. Vocational Education, Community Jobs, etc.)
    7. Rejects the ES component by referring back the participant to the CSO within ten business days if no contact was made (face-to-face meeting with the parent) by the tenth business day.
  3. The WFPS/RSW:
    1. Discusses the proposed participation activities with LEP Pathway contractor to reach an agreement.
    2. Extends the LP indicator code on the Active Component Screen for the duration of the LEP Pathway services in addition to opened participation components.
    3. Finalizes the IRP and enters the activity components with the scheduled hours of participation and the contractor's 3 digit code.
    4. Uses the following eJAS component codes for ESL instructions:
      • JT if the ESL is stacked with a core activity
      • ES if the ESL is recommended as a stand-alone activity
  4. The LEP Pathway contractor:
    1. Works with WFPS/RSW to discuss and finalize the suggested activities. Makes sure that the participant is a part of the decision making process.
    2. Modifies the Employment Plan as needed and schedules the participant for full-time (35 to 40 hours a week) WorkFirst activities using the stacking activities as needed.
    3. Enters the date the participant began participating in WorkFirst activities in Actual Start Date column of Contractor Caseload Screen.
    4. Documents participant's actual participating hours by keeping daily attendance/timesheets. Documents excused absences in eJAS and states the reason for absence in eJAS Notes. (Although not specifically stated in WAC, cultural holidays may be considered an excused absence.)
    5. Reports actual participation hours monthly on the eJAS Contractor Caseload and Multiple Clients Monthly Participation screens by the 10th of the following month for the previous month's activities.
    6. Reports in eJAS any issues identified. Attempts to resolve the issue with the participant and involves the WFPS/RSW immediately when unable to resolve or if the issues are affecting the participant's ability to participate.
    7. Sends immediate notification to the WFPS/RSW within 1 business day after a participant has 2 excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month by using the "Immediate Notify" column in the Contractor Caseload screen, and keeps the activity open. (Refer to WFHB 5.2.13- What steps do you take when a participant is absent?)
    8. Contacts the participant and WFPS/RSW to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the participant back to DSHS.
    9. Sends immediate notification to the WFPS/RSW when a participant is unable to participate for the scheduled number of hours. Initiates conversation with WFPS/RSW and participant about whether the activity is appropriate.
    10. Updates appropriate sections of eJAS.
    11. Monitors employed participants for a minimum of 90 days following job placement.
  5. The WFPS/RSW:
    1. Continues to monitor the LEP Pathway case.
    2. Addresses any rejected referrals.
    3. Refer participants with ESL level 5 and 6 to ESD, Commerce or Education and Training activities for employment services.
    4. Updates the IRP and eJAS with any activity changes as follows:
      1. Updates activity components and enter contractor's 3 digit code (LEP Pathway Contractors List) in eJAS Active Components screen to give the contractor access to the case record.
      2. Updates or creates a new IRP, if necessary, and has the participant sign it.
      3. Documents scheduled WorkFirst activities in eJAS LEP notes.
    5. Notifies the contractor of changes in the participants' participation requirements so that EP can be updated.
    6. Reviews the Contractors Caseload and Monthly Participation screens for monthly reporting. If the contractor is not reporting as required, contacts the Supervisor. If unable to resolve the issue locally, the regional WorkFirst Coordinator would contact ORIA who works with the contractor on any issues.
    7. Reviews the case every 90 days for participation and progress. The participant may be reassigned to a new contractor if the WFPS/RSW believes progress has not be made with the current contractor. Notifies the current contractor immediately about the change in contractor and indicates the reason for it.
    8. Notifies the LEP contractor if the participant moves to different address outside of the CSO area or has been referred to a different contractor and indicates why.
    9. Updates the eJAS Employment screen as soon as possible with employment information received from contractor.
    10. Ensures the ACES ERN screen is updated.
Note: "PT" and "FT" components for LEP Pathway participants always need a 3 digit contractor code to allow the contractor an eJAS access to the case for additional monitoring and reporting. When closing WorkFirst case, remember to leave the eJAS case open for another 4 months from the date of TANF closure.

For a summary of the LEP Pathway process, please see the TANF/WorkFirst Application and LEP Pathway Program flow chart.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

5.3 Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET)

Revised November 13, 2020

5.3 What is Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET)?

Basic Food Employment & Training (BFET) provides training and education with a goal of assisting Basic Food recipients in attaining a living wage career. BFET services are available from all WA State community and technical colleges as well as many non-college community based organization (CBO) contractors.

BFET can assist participants with job readiness if they aren’t receiving TANF but are receiving food assistance by providing the following:

  • Job search,
  • Job readiness (mock interviews, strategies, etc.),
  • Basic education (computer training, LEP, etc.),
  • Vocational training, or
  • Support services (transportation help, childcare, housing, clothing, etc.),
  • Job retention and wage progression services.

How is BFET different from TANF?

  • Voluntary
  • No minimum hourly requirement
  • No time limit
  • No monetary grant

Each BFET provider has their own unique program focusing on one or more of the above services. Participants can find out more about these programs by contacting a provider by phone (using the brochure below) or by visiting https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-partnership-program/basic-food-employment-training-bfet.

The following brochures about Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) are available:

WorkFirst staff will take the following steps when participants transition from BFET to TANF:

  1. Leave the FI component open (this must remain open for billing reasons and will auto close 30 days from the actual end date of the BFET components).
  2. Close all other BFET activity components
    1. Use the day before TANF approval as the actual end date for the component
    2. Use IC as the closure code for closing the component.
  3. Send an eJAS eMessage to the BFET Operations Manager notifying them of change in program. You can find the BFET Operations Managers name in the eJAS demographic information screen under case manager before it changes to the ongoing WFPS.

See Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) Program

Chapter 6: Resolving Issues

6.1 Overview

Created on: 
Feb 16 2017

Revised on: September 20, 2021

The Resolving Issues Overview section includes:

  • 6.1.1 What is resolving issues?
  • 6.1.2 When do we resolve issues?
  • 6.1.3 What are the principles for resolving issues?
  • 6.1.4 What is the role of the WorkFirst Program Specialist?
  • 6.1.5 What is the role of the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist?

6.1.1 What is resolving issues?

Resolving issues begins with identifying barriers 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 participant engage in activities that will lead to employment.

Many WorkFirst participants 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 participant. And, although we may not even think of authorizing child care or making a family planning referral as "resolving issues" -- it is.

Many participants 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 participants are able - so they can start building on their strengths while eliminating some negatives.

Last, some participants 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 participants, 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:

  • Application.
  • Comprehensive evaluation.
  • Eligibility reviews.
  • Assessment.
  • Anytime upon the participant's request.

If issues are identified when a participant 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 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 participant any additional supports they need to succeed.

The purpose of issue resolution is to help the participant 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 economic mobility as the ultimate goal.

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

Finding creative ways for the participant 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 participant'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 and collaborates with the WFSSS and other service providers to:

  • Determine needs
  • Obtain resources
  • Complete the foundation section of the comprehensive evaluation
  • Develop the IRP with the participant's input, using recommendations from Employment Security's employment plan, and consideration of other relevant information
  • Ensure the participant has adequate child care and transportation and coordinates other services as necessary

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. The WFSSS coordinates services with WorkFirst partners and other service providers as needed. WFSSSs assist in helping participants (such as parenting minors, teen head of households, pregnant, hard to engage, sanctioned, and disabled/incapacitated participants) resolve issues, including:

  • Mental, physical, and learning disabilities
  • Caring for a child with special needs
  • Alcohol or substance abuse/chemical dependency
  • Family violence
  • Homelessness
  • Family planning.
  • Parental Education or support
  • Pregnancy to Employment
  • Child Protective Services

Upon referral the WFSSS:

  • Completes assessment using the Pathway Development Tool (PDT) - see WFHB 3.2.3
  • Provides intervention and support to help the participant address issues that may interfere with their ability to complete the comprehensive evaluation or impede movement toward economic economic mobility
  • Develops a plan for issues identified and make appropriate referrals to specialized services to help resolve these issues
  • Helps the participant resolve issues identified by WorkFirst partners and other service providers
  • Stacks services, if appropriate, to help participants engage in activities that leads to employment
  • Attends case staffings
  • Provides specific, intensive, and time-limited services to participants at risk of losing benefits or services
  • Provides follow-up services, as needed, to keep the person engaged

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

6.2 Assessment

Created on: 
Sep 28 2018

Revised on September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The Assessment section includes:

  • 6.2.1 What are assessments?
  • 6.2.2 Who needs it?
  • 6.2.3 Are there issues to be resolved?
  • 6.2.4 Are there any other considerations?
  • 6.2.5 eJAS Codes
  • 6.2.6 Pregnant Women's Assistance (PWA) referral and assessment process
  • 6.2.7 Assessment - Step-by-Step

6.2.1 What are assessments?

An assessment is an analysis used by a WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) to gather detailed information about a participant's life and issues that may impact their ability to support their family. Obtaining information from a participant during an assessment can be difficult. Use open ended question to assist in getting the information needed to establish supportive WorkFirst activities. Results of these assessments are used to establish WorkFirst activities for intensive services for participants. The Pathway Development Tool (PDT) is one way to complete assessments allowing for a full assessment or partial assessment to be completed (See WFHB 3.2.3).

Assessments include:

  • Basic participant information, such as name, address, assistance unit, education/employment, family planning and other agency involvement.
  • Issues of the Pregnancy to Employment population such as pregnancy, child health and child care. (Only completed as needed.)
  • Other concerns, such as health issues or family violence. (Only completed as needed.)
  • A plan to help resolve the issue or issues.

6.2.2 Who needs it?

An assessment reveals a participant's issues and strengths, so we can connect the participant to appropriate resources, services, and activities to foster self-sufficiency.

Request an assessment:

  • For participants who are pregnant or have a child less than twenty-four months old,
  • For pregnant or parenting minors who require a determination of the appropriateness of their living arrangements,
  • For a recipient of Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA),
  • When a participant has an issue that they can't easily resolve, such as mental health or substance abuse,
  • When a participant is engaged in WorkFirst activities, but may also need to spend some time working on issues that interfere with employment,
  • When an eJAS comprehensive evaluation or the eJAS note type indicates further assessment is needed to determine next steps, and
  • During the application process, if the participant has an immediate or urgent need.

6.2.3 Issues to be resolved

As shown in the chart below, there are many issues that may interfere with a participant's ability to become self-sufficient. Any indication of the issues listed below may require a WFSSS assessment so they can be addressed.

Key Issues to resolve
Education & employment Problems in school or on the job may indicate hidden learning disabilities, critical skills gaps, or other factors that require further evaluation.
General health Lack of dental care or physical disabilities may require a referral to a dentist, doctor, SSI or DVR.
Pregnancy or parent of child less than 24 months old Help is available to provide prenatal care, child support, parent education, and to create a better support system.
Family planning Family planning services are available to avoid unintended pregnancies that can make it harder to achieve independence.
Child health & nutrition Help obtaining immunizations, regular well-child check-ups and health or nutrition advice.
Parent/child development Parenting classes are available to deal with the issues faced by working parents.
Mental/Emotional health Help is available to deal with depression, anxiety, anger, grief or the aftermath of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
Domestic violence Connect participants with domestic violence agencies for expert advice and assistance.
Substance abuse/Chemical dependency Refer participants for substance abuse/chemical dependency assessment and treatment.
Housing Help in finding stable and adequate housing.
Child care Help in finding safe, affordable, and reliable child care.
Transportation Help in developing a reliable transportation plan (looking at mass transit, insurance, driver's license issues).
Legal Issues Help in dealing with various legal issues that can interfere with employment (like evictions, bankruptcy, or criminal history).
Other agencies/Tribal Connect the participant to other resources (like Head Start or tribal services) or coordinate with other agencies (like CPS).

6.2.4 Are there other considerations?

A participant may need additional assessments based on the results of a social service assessment. For example, it may indicate a need for a DASA referral, so the participant can be assessed further for drug and alcohol treatment.

6.2.5 eJAS codes

When referring a participant to the WFSSS for an assessment, use the eJAS referral codes, such as:

  • RO (Other), or
  • SR (referred for drug/alcohol assessment)

6.2.6 Pregnant Women's Assistance (PWA) referral and assessment process

When a pregnant woman applies for Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) and isn't eligible for a 60 month TANF Time Limit Extension, the WFSSS follows the process outlined below to accept the referral and assess the PWA recipients' needs. All financial eligibility has been determined before the following steps are taken below by the WFSSS.

The WFSSS:

  • Receives a referral for PWA from the @WFQ or @SWA pool.
  • Reviews the Social Service Referral form (DSHS 14-084) in the Barcode ECR and marks it complete. If a DSHS 14-084 form is not received, contact the eligibility worker who made the referral and request the form to be generated, then proceed with the case.
  • Opens the incapacity screen listing pregnancy, in Barcode, and reviews the EDD for proper tracking.
  • Reviews the case in all systems; ACES, Barcode, eJAS, and in programs such as Equal Access Plans, and FamLink.
  • Generates and provides to the PWA recipient a PWA Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) Referral form, 10-651, out of Barcode, to notify the recipient they are eligible for 24 consecutive months of HEN services.
  • Contacts the PWA recipient in the office, by phone, or sends an open appointment letter to meet with the recipient to complete a First Steps Assessment.
    • To start the assessment the WFSSS clicks on the "Create New Intake Record," in the ICMS Social Service Intake screen in Barcode to open the intake/assessment screens.
    • Updates the screens with information obtained in the assessment with the PWA recipient to complete the assessment.
    • Saves the assessment in Barcode.  

During the assessment, the WFSSS:

  • Screens the recipient for Equal Access needs.
  • Screens the recipient for Protective Payee service needs.
  • Reviews the TANF Time Limit Extension hardship categories with the recipient to determine if the recipient meets any hardship criteria.
  • Screens for substance abuse treatment needs:
    • If the recipient is in need of a substance abuse assessment, make the appropriate referrals.
      • Once verification returns, if the recommendation is for substance abuse treatment, ongoing case management is required by the WFSSS.
    • If substance abuse has been ruled out and the substance abuse professional is not recommending treatment activities, case management is not required by the WFSSS.

Note: The WFSSS sets a Barcode tickle to track the case monthly. The WFSSS will make contact with the recipient monthly to determine any potential eligibility for a 60 month TANF Time Limit Extension (TLE) hardship and attempt to connect with the recipient to discuss barriers and or referral needs.

6.2.7 Assessment - Step-by-step guide

  1.  The WFPS refers a participant to a WFSSS for an assessment when:
    1. The participant is pregnant or parenting a child under 24 months;
    2. A comprehensive evaluation or participant interaction indicates further assessment is needed to determine next (or additional) steps; or
    3. There is a need for an assessment.
  2. The WFSSS conducts the assessment using the PDT and based on the findings of the assessment, provides services, refers and connects the participant to the appropriate resources, activities and services.
  3. The WFSSS and WFPS decide whether the participant is deferred from all other activities or combine issue resolution with WorkFirst participation and:
    1. Builds an IRP with the participant that reflects issue resolution services and activities.
    2. Documents any new components in eJAS.
    3. Monitors the participant's progress closely and authorize support services when necessary.
    4. Connects the participant with employment-related services as soon as possible, once issues are sufficiently resolved.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources

6.3 Participation While Resolving Issues

Created on: 
Jul 27 2018

Revised On: September 20, 2021

Legal References:

The Participation While Resolving Issues section includes:

  • 6.3.1 What is supporting participation?
  • 6.3.2 Stacking activities and issue resolution
  • 6.3.3 How do we code participation?
  • 6.3.4 What are the types of participation while resolving issues?
  • 6.3.5 How do we treat participants with medical issues who do not have Washington Apple Health?
  • 6.3.6 Participants with medical issues who do not have Washington Apple Health - Step-by-step Guide
  • 6.3.7 What kinds of documentation/evidence should I request?
  • 6.3.8 Supporting participation - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 6.3.9 What is Foundational Community Support (FCS)?
  • 6.3.10 Foundational Community Support (FCS)- Step-by-Step Guide

6.3.1 What is supporting participation?

The purpose of WorkFirst is to help WorkFirst families become economically stable through employment as quickly as possible. Many families need support to participate in WorkFirst activities. Supporting participation in job search, employment, and/or issue resolution is fundamental to their success.

The main purposes of the comprehensive evaluation, stacking activities and the social service assessments are:

  • Identifying how best to support the participant's self-sufficiency through employment.
  • Providing needed supports that meet the participant's identified needs.
  • Creating a long-term plan for participants who are exempt and unable to participate.
  • Helping participants who cannot participate to stabilize their situation as soon as possible when they can't participate in countable activities so they can progress.
  • Addressing issues, increasing participation and transitioning to work or employment readiness activities as soon as possible, to resolve issues like mental health, chemical dependency, family violence, learning disabilities, or working with DVR.

Participants are usually able to participate in other activities while also addressing issues that interfere with full-time employment. See the Stacking Activities Chart for a list of core and non-core activities that can be added to a participant's IRP and help them progress while meeting WorkFirst participation requirements. Consider adding the following core activities:

  • Independent life skills training (code these hours under the LS eJAS component code). For more information on independent Life Skills training, please refer to section 7.3.6 - What is Independent Life Skills Training?
  • Community Work, Work Experience or Community Jobs.

Consideration for a full deferment from Career Scope activities should only occur when it isn’t possible for the participant to accept employment or participate in at least 20 hours of Career Scope activities. In these cases, the participant may need to participate in issue resolution activities prior to participating in Career Scope.

For example, a participant may need Residential (In-Patient) treatment for alcohol or substance abuse/chemical dependency.

It is necessary to defer job search or other activities while the participant is in residential treatment for a short time (usually 28 days but may require up to 90 days). Depending upon the individual circumstances and treatment plan, the participant can resume participating in job search or other activities while also completing the Outpatient Treatment Plan. Determine if other activities are available if the participant is waiting to enter treatment.

See section 6.6, Disabilities if the participant claims to have a disability or medical issue that limits their ability to work, look for work or prepare for work.

For deferrals, allow 30 days to gather documentation. The WFPS/WFSSS can support the participant to obtain needed evidence such as medical evidence, chart notes, or testing. Beyond 30 days, the participant must provide ‘good cause’.  For example, the participant must show that the information has been requested but not received within the 30-day time period. If the evidence is not received within 30 days, the WFPS/WFSSS sends an appointment letter to determine if "good-cause" exists and invites the participant in the to discuss participation.

6.3.2 Stacking and Issue Resolution Activities

Participants who are resolving countable "X" code issues, such as mental health (XG) or Family Violence (XF), can stack other activities to increase their hours of participation. Stacking activities is combining other needed WorkFirst activities, such as job search, life skills, unpaid work, participating, and seeking stable housing with the countable "X" code,. See section 3.3.2section 6.6, Disabilities, and the Stacking Activities Chart for more information

Continued communication and monitoring between the WFPS or WFSSS and others who are working with the participant are necessary to ensure:

  • Multiple services/referrals are offered to the participant;
  • Appropriate information is shared;
  • The IRP is amended as appropriate;
  • Participation requirements are enforced; and
  • The participant receives appropriate support services and child care.

The WorkFirst partner agencies and most contractors normally can tell how many hours a particpant expects to participate in their program activities. The WFPS or WFSSS develop IRPs accordingly. See section 3.3.2.3 and 3.3.2.4 for more information about how to meet program/participation goals and build an IRP.

Use the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) to clearly state the required participation and the supports available.

Deferrals ("X" codes) taking longer than 90 days require verification and approval by:

  • A multi-disciplinary case-staffing;
  • Supervisor or higher level authority approval; or
  • Documentation provided by a health-care or other professional.

Develop an IRP that specifies the activities the participant is to be taking to resolve the issues and the expected time to resolve the issue. For example, "Follow recommended treatment plan," or "attend all physical therapy sessions as prescribed by physician."

Review the case every 30 days to ensure the participant is making satisfactory progress in resolving the issue unless they're not engaged in activities each month. For example, a participant is ordered 90 days bed rest by their physician. In these cases, review periods can exceed 30 days but require approval by:

  • A multi-disciplinary case-staffing;
  • Supervisor or higher level authority approval; or
  • Documentation provided by a health-care or other professional.

For information on how to treat excused and unexcused absences, please refer to section 3.7.1.5 - How do we treat excused and unexcused absences?

6.3.3 How do we code participation?

Use the appropriate "X" or referral codes in eJAS to identify the participant's issues, authorize support services, and/or make referrals to other resources.

Example: Following 90 days of Intensive In-Patient treatment, the participant must attend 2 AA meetings and 1 group therapy session per week. Transportation to and from meetings or appointments do not count as actual hours of participation.

  • The AA meetings last 2 hours each (4 hours total).
  • The group therapy session is hours (2 hours total).

The actual number of hours spent in treatment-related activities is 6 hours.

Hours spent in independent life skills activities are coded in eJAS under the component code "LS". The scheduled hours of participation should be as close to 32 to 40 hours per week as possible.

The WFPS/WFSSS develops an IRP that brings the participant up to full-time participation in countable activities as soon as they're able. We also want to make stabilization and issue resolution activities short-term if we can, so the participant can transition into work-focused activities that lead to employment and economic stability.

6.3.4 What are the types of participation while resolving issues?

Described below are various types of stabilization and issue resolution and specific eJAS codes used. More information can be found on each type in other sections of the WorkFirst Handbook.

Types of activities to resolve issues

XB

Pursuing SSI/L&I/VA or other benefits (not countable)

See 6.8 Exemptions section

XC

No child care available or caring for a disabled adult who is in school full time (not countable)

See 6.6 Disabilities section or WCCC manual

XD

In a DVR plan (a countable core activity)

XE

Alcohol/substance abuse/chemical dependency Treatment (a countable core activity)

See 6.7 Alcohol/substance abuse/Chemical Dependency Section

XF

Family Violence Resolution (a countable core activity)

See 2.2 Support Services and 6.5 Family Violence Sections

XG

Mental health treatment or Counseling (a countable core activity)

See 6.6 Disabilities Section

XH

Resolution of Homelessness (not countable)

XJ

Learning Disabilities Services (a countable core activity)

See 6.6 Learning Disabilities

XM

Temporary incapacity undergoing medical treatment (not countable)

XN

Caring for a child with special needs who is in school full time (not countable)

See 6.4 Child with Special Needs

XP

Parenting skills, nutrition classes, choosing child care, family planning, participating in home visiting or participant education services.

Note: Normally used if pregnant or have child under 12 months of age, but also used for other participants in need of these services.

See 5.1 Pregnancy to Employment Pathway

6.3.5 How do we treat participants with medical issues who do not have Washington Apple Health?

Parents who do not have  Washington Apple Health due to citizenship verification requirements and who have an activity requirement that is dependent on  Washington Apple coverage are not required to participate in these activities until Washington Apple Health eligibility is established. Until Washington Apple Health coverage is established, these participants are coded with the component code 'CV'. This is an indicator code only and has no IRP or monitoring requirements.

However, participants are required to participate in other WorkFirst activities identified as appropriate through the comprehensive evaluation or assessments that are not dependent on Washington Apple Health coverage.

Once citizenship verification requirements are met and Washington Apple Health is approved, the component code 'CV' is removed and participation requirements changed to include appropriate health care services.

For participants with chemical dependency issues, please refer to section 6.7.4- Who is financially eligible for substance abuse treatment?

6.3.6 Participants with medical issues who do not have Medicaid - Step-by-Step

Participants who are unable to participate in any other activities due to a medical issue.

If a participant has a severe enough medical issue to prevent participation in any other activities:

  1. Document in the appropriate eJAS note section the reason the participant is unable to participate
  2. Update the eJAS component screen with the indicator component code 'CV'

Participants who are able to participate in other stacked activities

If a participant has a medical issue, but is also able to participate in other activities:

  1. Update the eJAS component screen with the indicator 'CV' (in lieu of using component code 'XM' or 'XG' if the participant had Washington Apple Health coverage and was able to seek treatment services)
  2. Update the eJAS component screen with the appropriate stackable activities in which the participant is able to participate
  3. Develop the IRP for the required activities
  4. Document in the appropriate eJAS notes the number of hours per week the participant would normally be expected to participate in medical issue resolution if he/she had Washington Apple Health coverage
  5. Document the participant's other required activities in the appropriate eJAS notes

6.3.7 What kinds of documentation/evidence should I request?

See section 6.6, Disabilities , for documentation required for participants with an emotional, mental or physical disorder.

Documentation for a participant caring for a child with special needs (see 6.4 Children: Special Needs) may include health-care professionals as described above in WACs 388-449-0010 or 388-447-0005 or other documentation provided by:

  • Public Health Nurse (PHN)
  • The child's school district
  • Division of Developmental Disabilities Case Manager
  • Licensed Child Care provider
  • Certified Mental Health Professional (CMHP)
  • Certified Mental Retardation Professional (CMRP)

6.3.8 Supporting Participation - Step-by-step guide

  1. The WFPS follows the instructions in Section 6.6, Disabilities, for emotional, mental or physical disorders
  2. For all other deferrals, the WFPS consults with the individual and the following participants, as appropriate, to determine the need for issue resolution participation.
    1. The WFSSS or a Disability Specialist;
    2. SSI facilitator;
    3. Treatment provider; and/or
    4. Community service provider
  3. The WFPS then:
    1. Enters the appropriate code in eJAS.
    2. Enters the specific activities, scheduled hours and the expected end date for the activities on the IRP, describing in detail the activities and/or treatment the participant is required to complete, with the exception of drug related issues or other protected information .
    3. Stacks activities to increase hours of participation to the extent the participant is able, and adds the information to the IRP.
    4. Authorizes support services needed to complete their IRP requirements.
    5. Documents the actions in eJAS.
    6. Monitors participation monthly following the procedures in Section 3.7.2, Documenting and Reporting Participation.
    7. Gets supervisor or higher approval for issue resolution IRPs that take longer than 90 days.

6.3.9 What is Foundational Community Support (FCS)?

 

Foundational Community Support (FCS) is a voluntary supported employment and coordinated entry referral program to help individuals on Medicaid who have physical, mental health, and/or housing needs. Once referred Amerigroup conducts a thorough assessment to determine eligibility based on criteria for supported employment and supported housing services.

Who can receive FCS services?

Participants who are in an X component for:

  • A chronic or severe physical or mental health issue
  • Substance use disorder inpatient/outpatient treatment

What is FCS eligibility criteria?

Supported Employment participants must be:

  • Enrolled in Medicaid
  • Over the age of 16
  • Have a disability, injury, or health issue that keeps them from obtaining and maintaining employment
  • Have received substance use treatment in a hospital or facility

Supported Housing participants must be:

  • Enrolled in Medicaid
  • Over the age of 18
  • A history of homelessness
  • Lived in a residential or nursing facility
  • Multiple or long-term stays in a hospital or prisons
  • Ongoing complex health issues
  • History of in-home caregivers
Note: The conditions above do not guarantee eligibility.  Amerigroup determines eligibility and provides a referral to services.

How does a participant enroll in FCS?

  • Participants can self-refer by contacting Amerigroup directly.
    • If already engaged with FCS, WFPS/WFSSS adds the appropriate X component activity to the IRP.
  • Participants can be referred to Amerigroup by a WFPS/WFSSS.
    • The WFPS/WFSSS contacts Amerigroup via phone on the participant's behalf to set up an intake.
    • Develops an IRP including the participant's scheduled intake date and time.

What services does FCS provide?

WorkFirst participants who are eligible and seeking supportive employment and/or housing and struggling with mental or physical incapacities may receive the following assistance:

  • Looking for the right job
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Focusing on helpful routines and employment related life skills
  • Maintaining employment
  • Locating safe and affordable housing
  • Working with landlords and completing applications
  • Learning independent living skills

6.3.10  Foundational Community Support (FCS)- Step-by-Step Guide

The WFPS or WFSSS:

  1. Provides the participant with information about FCS benefits and:
    1. Amerigroup's contact information for self-referral; see Foundational Community Support Reference and Referral Guide, or
    2. Assists the participant with a phone call to Amerigroup in a warm-hand-off process to schedule an intake appointment with the participant to determine eligibility for FCS benefits.
  2. Obtains a signed DSHS 14-012 Consent Form listing Amerigroup to exchange information for service coordination.
  3. Develops an IRP for participation in FCS supported employment activities under Special Records.
  4. If not engaged in an issue resolution component, add the issue(s) resolution component that best fits the reason for the referral to FCS.
  5. If already engaged in an issue resolution activity, add one additional hour to the existing issue resolution component to capture the hour of FCS participation.
  6. Authorizes support services needed to complete the participant's IRP requirements.
  7. Documents the action in eJAS using the corresponding issue resolution note type.
  8. Gives the participant a copy of the eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form for actual hour verification and explain the reporting requirements.
  9. Monitors participation monthly following the procedures in Section3.7.2, Documenting and Reporting Participation.
Note: A participant can't be sanctioned for choosing not to follow through with voluntary FCS.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Forms & Other Resources

6.4 Children: Special Needs

Revised on: April 18, 2022

Legal References:

The Children with Special Needs section includes:

  • 6.4.1 Who are children with special needs?
  • 6.4.2 Who needs help with this issue?
  • 6.4.3 What are appropriate Individual Responsibility Plan activities?
  • 6.4.4 What do I document?
  • 6.4.5 eJAS Codes
  • 6.4.6 Children with special needs - Steps-by-Step Guide

6.4.1 Who are children with special needs?

A child with special needs has medical, developmental, or behavioral needs that require individualized care, treatment, or intervention. Families that include a child with special needs should have their special needs accommodated in the development of their Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP). Make every effort to meet the child's needs while allowing the participant to progress in employment.

Accommodations may include:

  • A referral to the local Public Health Department for an initial evaluation, advice and services. Follow up evaluations can only be done with supervisory approval.
  • Assistance in finding safe, affordable, and reliable child care.
  • Referrals to other community resources to prepare the participant for future work, while meeting their child's special needs.
  • Temporary deferral from job search so a participant can assist school personnel to care for their child with special needs or to care for the child before and after school. However, participants should engage in work activities while the child with special needs is attending school.
  • Exemption from job search so a participant can provide care for their child with special needs.

6.4.2 Who needs help with this issue?

Whenever a participant indicates the inability to participate in WorkFirst activities because of a child with special needs or the need for special child care arrangements, the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) should accept the statement and make referrals to get more information and assistance.

The Public Health Department may initially evaluate the child's needs and document the impact on the participant's ability to participate in WorkFirst activities. Or, a DSHS social service specialist may be able to assess the situation based on existing information.

At the end of any deferral or exemption period, use other forms of documentation to determine whether the participant qualifies for continued deferral or exemption. If no other documentation is available, you may request a follow up evaluation from a public health nurse with supervisory approval.

Participants who care for a child with special needs may also qualify for an exemption if the participant is only able to participate for 0 to 10 hours per week. We code these cases with a ZC eJAS component code. For more information see section 6.8 Exemptions section.

6.4.3 What are appropriate Individual Responsibility Plan activities?

Use creativity in developing the IRP for a participant who is parenting a child with special needs. Work with the participant(s) to develop activities that keep her and/or him engaged, support work, job search activities, or prepare him and/or her for future work. The following activities are examples of appropriate WorkFirst activities.

  • Attend day care with the child to train a provider or to give the provider time to become comfortable with caring for the child.
  • Gain work experience through volunteer work at their child's school.
  • Participate in the child's therapeutic activities.

NOTE: An IRP is not required for an exemption, unless volunteering to participate.

6.4.4 What do I document?

Documentation for a participant caring for a child with special needs may include health-care professionals as described in WAC 388-449-0010 or WAC 388-447-0005 or other types of documentation provided by:

  • Public Health Nurse
  • The child's school district
  • Division of Developmental Disabilities Case Manager
  • Licensed Child Care provider
  • Certified Mental Health Professional (CMHP)
  • Certified Mental Retardation Professional (CMRP)

6.4.5 eJAS codes

When a participant has a child with special needs, use the following eJAS codes:

  • RO (referral to a social service specialist or the Public Health Department), or
  • XN Needed in the home to care for a child with special needs deferral
  • ZC Caring for a child with special needs when the child's condition is so severe that the participant must care for the child on a full-time basis.

6.4.6 Children: Special Needs - Step-by-step guide

When a participant indicates the inability to participate in WorkFirst activities because of a child with special needs, the WFPS or WFSSS:

Requests documentation of the child's special needs and the impact the child's special needs has on the participant's ability to participate in WorkFirst. If needed, the WFPS or WFSSS refers the family to the local Public Health Department, using an electronic referral* to the Public Health Nurse (PHN) in eJAS [or manually uses DSHS form 10-256], following the Step-by-Step guide below:

PHN eJAS Referral Step-by-Step guide

  1. From the participant's main menu, select the 'Referrals' link.
  2. Select the 'Public Health Nurse Referral' link.
  3. The user will be taken to the 'Public Health Nurse (PHN) Referral'.
  4. The system auto-fills certain client level and worker level information based upon eJAS client demographic information and the user taking the action. The auto-filled information may be edited with the exception of the JAS id and the system posting date.
  5. The user completes the remaining fields and sections of the form with the necessary information.
  6. The user either selects the 'Print this Referral' or 'e-Msg this Referral' button.
  7. Once the user selects either of these buttons the information is stored and cannot be modified. It is part of the case record.
  8. If the user selects 'print this Referral' the form locally prints. The system posts a "Children w/Special Needs Referral to Public Health Nurse" note type with a link titled "Click here to view the PHN Referral". The user may select the link within the client note to view the referral.
  9. If the user selects 'e-Msg this Referral', the user finalizes sending the e-Msg to the nurse's user id or contracting agency code. When the nurse receives the e-Msg, the subject line text reads 'Public Health Nurse Referral'. By selecting this link, the nurse can view the referral form. In addition, the system posts a "Children w/Special Needs Referral to Public Health Nurse" note type with a link titled "Click here to view the PHN Referral". The user may select the link within the client note to view the referral.

Searching Client Notes - Step-by-step guide

  1. From the participant's main menu, select 'Client Notes'.
  2. In the Search Options, Select 'Type' and review the drop down menu.
  3. The new note type 'Referral to Public Health Nurse' has been added as an option and displays below the previously existing 'Referral' note type. 
    • The 'Referral to Public Health Nurse' note type is specific to referrals generated in the How to Make a Referral step-by-step guide.
    • The existing Referral searches client notes for all generic referrals including generic referrals created for Children with Special Needs.

Using Ad-hoc Reports - Step-by-step guide 

  1. From the participant's main menu, select 'Ad-hoc Reporting'.
  2. In the section labeled 'View Notes' review the drop down menu containing default text 'Any Type'.
  3. The new note type 'Referral to Public Health Nurse' has been added as an option and will display below the previously existing 'Referral' note type.
    • The 'Referral to Public Health Nurse' note type is specific to referrals generated in the How to Make a Referral step-by-step guide.
    • The existing Referral searches client notes for all generic referrals including generic referrals created for Children with Special Needs.

Step-by-step guide

  1. After completing the PHN referral, the WFPS or WFSSS documents permission for a public health nurse's home visit on the IRP.
  2. Obtains permission to exchange highly protected (special record) information using the DSHS 14-012(X), Authorization to Obtain/Release Information form.
  3. Develops the IRP with the participant to the public health nurse, or SSS if a public health nurse is not available in their area.
  4. Updates the IRP with the "RO" referral code. Enters contractor code if applicable. 
  5. Refers the public health nurse to the local contracted vendor if interpreter services are required. (The nurse will return the Interpreter Services verification voucher to the CSO for payment.)
  6. Faxes the DSHS 10-256(X) (If the PHN does not have/or use eJAS access), PHN Referral form and a copy of the release of information form to the local public health nurse.
  7. The public health nurse:
    1. Initiates the home visit within five working days of receipt of the referral form.
    2. Sends the DSHS 10-255, Special Needs Evaluation and Engagement Recommendations, to the case manager or social service specialist within ten days of the home visit.
  8. The WFSSS and/or WFPS then reviews the information gathered by the Public Health Nurse evaluation and determines whether the participant qualifies for deferral or exemption.
  9. If the participant is able to participate full-time (more than 30 hours per week), the WFSSS or WFPS:
    1. Meets with the participant to develop an IRP, taking into consideration information gathered during the Public Health Nurse's evaluation process.
    2. Completes the component/IRP screen in eJAS.
    3. Develop IRP based upon existing information, or public health nurse evaluation (using the DSHS 10-255, Special Needs Evaluation and Engagement Recommendations).
  10. If the participant isn't able to participate full-time, the WFSSS or WFPS:
  • Meets with the participant to develop an IRP, and discusses the case with the Public Health Nurse (if possible) and other relevant professionals as needed.
    • Places the participant in the deferral code XN or exempt code ZC, if appropriate, developing the IRP with the participant. 
    • Completes the component/IRP screen in eJAS, with a deferral length no longer than 6 months or an exemption length no longer than 12 months.
    • Explains to the participant what the deferral or exemption means, how long the deferral or exemption will be approved for and how the review process works.
    • Approves the deferral or exemption based upon the information gathered. If the documentation shows the participant can participate:
      • 11 to 30 hours per week, approves a deferral.
      • 0 to 10 hours per week, approves an exemption. (See WFHB 6.8, Exemptions, for more information.)

11. At the end of the initial deferral or exemption, obtains documentation to determine whether the participant qualifies for another exemption or deferral. Only use a follow up evaluation from a public health nurse if there's no other documentation available and with supervisory approval.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms

6.5 Family Violence

Created on: 
Oct 02 2018

Revised December 1, 2021

(time-limited core)

Legal References:

The Family Violence section of the WorkFirst handbook includes:

  • 6.5.1 What is Family Violence?
  • 6.5.2 Why would individuals need help with family violence?
  • 6.5.3 What does family violence option (FVO) amendment mean for WorkFirst Cash Assistance participants?
  • 6.5.4 What are the responsibilities of DSHS staff?
  • 6.5.5 Is screening for family violence required?
  • 6.5.6 Why it is important to separate couples when screening?
  • 6.5.7 What information should DSHS staff provide?
  • 6.5.8 What is the Family Violence Screening/Evaluation?
  • 6.5.9 What are the Family Violence screening questions?
  • 6.5.10 What happens when an individual discloses family violence to a WorkFirst partner?
  • 6.5.11 What is "Good Cause" for not cooperating with the Division of Child Support?
  • 6.5.12 What is the Address Confidentiality Program?
  • 6.5.13 Individual Responsibilities Plans
  • 6.5.14 How do we code family violence participants in eJAS?
  • 6.5.15 What family violence services are federally countable?
  • 6.5.16 How are family violence services verified and reported?
  • 6.5.17 Family Violence - Step-by-step Guide
  • 6.5.18 Family violence and sanctions
  • 6.5.19 Family Violence and sanctions - Step-by-step

6.5.1 What is family violence?

Family violence is a general phrase that refers to a variety of abusive behaviors that can occur within a family structure.

Family violence includes any or all of the following;

  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault,
  • Child abuse and neglect,
  • Elder abuse and neglect.

The focus of this section is on what is traditionally known as domestic violence. Domestic violence is physical, sexual, psychological, and/or emotional abuse of an intimate partner in which one partner uses a variety of tactics to gain and maintain power and control over the other partner.

Family violence includes both current experience of these abusive behaviors and the continuing effects of abuse that happened in the past.  Some of the common ways abusers control the person:

  • Psychological intimidation
  • Interception of mail and phone calls
  • Controlling access to transportation or financial means
  • Direct physical threats
  • Assault

6.5.2 Why would individuals need help with family violence?

Family violence victims may need help because family violence may prevent a person from gaining or maintaining employment and becoming self-sufficient. In family violence situations, some factors affecting participation in activities are:

  1. The physical and emotional effects of past or current abuse may hinder job performance or work search.
  2. The abuser may try to sabotage the victim's education, training and employment to keep them dependent upon the abuser.
  3. The abuser may threaten the safety of the victim, the victim's children or family members.
  4. The demands of court intervention, criminal prosecution, safety planning, physical and mental recovery, or counseling may interfere with work, education or training.
  5. The individual may need to move or disrupt work to escape an unsafe living arrangement.

One of the missions of DSHS is to help individuals to live in a safe environment. Individuals subjected to, or at risk of, family violence need help to achieve a healthy and safe environment.

In order for individuals to achieve self-sufficiency, it is essential for the individual to have a safe environment for themselves and their children, and to be free from physical or emotional harm or stalking.

6.5.3 What does the Family Violence Option amendment mean for WorkFirst cash assistance recipients?

The Family Violence Option (FVO) recognizes the importance of not just screening individuals, but also actually doing something when a person indicates that they are a victim of domestic violence. This gives the state the flexibility to help these participants safely participate in activities leading to employment and self-sufficiency.

Washington State law maintains that DSHS must:

  • Screen and identify adults, minor teen participants or emancipated teens receiving WorkFirst cash assistance/SFA for a history of family violence;
  • Notify adults, minor teen participants or emancipated teens receiving WorkFirst cash assistance/SFA about the FVO Amendment both verbally and in writing;
  • Maintain confidentiality;
  • Refer individuals to social services, counseling, and supportive services;
  • Waive WorkFirst requirements in cases where the requirements would make it more difficult to escape family violence, unfairly penalize victims of family violence or place victims at further risk of family violence. Requirements to be waived may include:
  1. Time limits for WorkFirst recipients, for as long as necessary (after sixty months of receiving TANF/SFA and participating as required in their family violence plan);
  2. See section 3.6.1, Time Limit Extensions, for more information about how family violence affects WorkFirst time limit extensions.
  3. Cooperation with the Division of Child Support (DCS).
    • Develop specialized activities (services) for those individuals where participation in regular work or work-related activities would place them at further risk of family violence.

6.5.4 What are the responsibilities of DSHS staff?

DSHS staff must give all victims of family violence an ongoing opportunity to disclose circumstances of family violence and to engage in activities that give them more control over their circumstances. If it appears that the person may have a cognitive disability or is unable to read and/or understand what is being asked, determine if Equal Access (EA) plan is needed and/or has been provided.

DSHS staff must actively take steps to refer and/or place participants into activities to help resolve or cope with the issues and to create a safe environment for the family. Every reasonable attempt to help the participant feel comfortable in talking about the situation must be made.

Referrals or activities for family violence may include:

  • WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS)
  • On-site family/domestic violence advocate
  • Local family/domestic violence agency (for resources, to discuss safety issues and create a safety plan)
  • Counseling and support groups
  • Shelters for battered individuals
  • Medical services
  • Sexual assault and domestic violence hot-lines
  • Legal assistance and advocacy
  • Mental health services
  • Other available services

6.5.5 Is screening for family violence required?

If it is safe for the participant, screening for family violence is required:

  • At comprehensive evaluations and assessments,
  • Once per year following the initial screening,
  • Before a case can be placed into sanction (during good cause determination),
  • During the Time Limit Extension analysis in eJAS, and
  • At any point of contact with the participant if the worker thinks that family violence is an issue.

Document all family violence screenings in eJAS under the Family Violence Note. If appropriate, offer to refer the participant for additional services described above.

6.5.6 Why is it important to separate couples when screening?

When screening for family violence, safety is of paramount importance.

Never ask the participant about family violence when the other partner is present as this may endanger the participant. Some successful methods for separating couples to safely complete the screening include having an office protocol that recommends completion of all IRPs separately, or the scheduling of an appointment with a family planning worker to separate the couple during their visit to the office.

Review your policy regarding collaboration with local resources and partners. Local resources may be able to offer training or guidance, to refine protocols for screening couples.

6.5.7 What information should DSHS staff provide?

Every adult, minor teen participant or emancipated teen must be given general information both verbally and in writing about:

  • The Family Violence option,
  • Contracted or community family violence services, and
  • Support services available.

Written information must include at a minimum the "Open the Door" brochure DSHS 22-265(x) available in English and Spanish. The WFPS/WFSSS must document in eJAS when this brochure has been given or mailed to the client.

Remind each person that they have an opportunity to disclose issues at any point in time.

Distributing information about family violence
Safety Plan Pocket Guide (DSHS 22-276) Place these guides in areas where individuals can help themselves to the information (like restrooms, front counters or on your desk)
TANF Family Violence Information brochure "Open the Door" (DSHS 22-265(X)) Ask each individual to read this brochure at the initial eligibility interview and at least yearly thereafter. Then, provide a verbal summary of the information in the flyer.
Family Violence Technical Assistance for all staff working with WorkFirst individuals 360-586-1022 Ext 102 or 104 Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm

6.5.8 What is the Family Violence Screening/Evaluation?

The following is the opening statement and the screening/evaluation questions in eJAS Pathway Development Tool (PDT) for family violence. Screening is required for adults and emancipated minors.

"This is a series of questions we ask everyone about family violence (also know as domestic violence). We know that violence in the home can be hard to talk about. We also know a lot of people experience this, which is why we ask. There is no 'right' answers and this does not affect your eligibility.

  • If you let someone know that family violence is an issue for you, we can create a plan that works for you and offer community resources that might help.
  • You may answer these questions today, or you can let us know about this issue at any time and we can change your plan. 
  • Any information you give us about family violence will be kept confidential in our computer systems. Please let us know if you have concerns about anyone at DSHS accessing this information. 
  • If you tell us that any children are being hurt, we are required by law to report the information to the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) or a law enforcement agency."

If the worker clicks 'Not safe to screen at this time', a Family Violence Screening note type will be generated and the text will read: 'Not safe to screen for family violence at this time.' This is a reminder that the family violence screening has yet to be completed.

Note: If you suspect a minor is abused or neglected, you are required to report the circumstances to the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) by calling 1-866-ENDHARM.  

6.5.9 What are the Family Violence Screening Questions Screen ?

If it is safe to continue with the screening, workers need to gather 'yes' or 'no' responses to the following six screening questions: 

  1. Are you OK answering a few questions about your safety at home?
    • If the response is 'No' staff selects 'Not safe to screen at this time.' This ensures that the family violence indicator remains for staff to complete at a future contact where it is safe to continue with the screening. 
  2. Will collecting child support put you or your family in danger?
  3. Has a current or former partner ever:
    • Stopped you from going places like work, school, or seeing people?
    • Stalked you when you go out?
    • Dominated your finances and family resources? 
    • Verbally abused, intimidated, or tried to manipulate you? 
    • Had angry outburst or tantrums that frighten you?
    • Threatened you or your children? 
    • Made you feel fearful for any other reason? 
    • Physically harmed you or your family? 
  4. Are you currently fleeing from abuse or have you recently left an abusive partner?
  5. Have you ever obtained a restraining or no contact order to protect your safety or the safety of your family?
  6. Are you currently working with a family violence agency, advocate, or counselor? 

If 'yes' is the response to any of questions 2-6 above, let the participant know that there are specialists on staff who can help with safety issues as well as tailoring plans within WorkFirst to help avoid danger and promote success in the program. Please explain to the participant that the services are available to address family violence. Offer a referral to a Social Services Specialist, Family Violence Advocate or other local family violence resources. Select all the appropriate options that fit the next steps and document in the Pathway Development Tool:

  • Interested in resources only
  • Referral to family violence advocate
  • Referral to social services for family violence
  • Staff identify concerns, customer is opting out of family violence services at this time

If the participant answers 'no' to all questions, document that the person reports no issues at this time. When 'No, family violence concerns disclosed at this time' is checked and comments are entered, a note type is generated and the text reads, 'Client screened for family violence. Client has indicated no issues at this time.'

6.5.10 What happens when a participant discloses family violence to a WorkFirst partner?

When WorkFirst partners at Employment Security, Community Trade and Economic Development, or the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges are informed by the participant that family violence is an issue, the worker involved must immediately:

  • Determine if the family violence prevents the participant from participating in the current activity and if so, refer the participant back to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  • If the person states that the family violence issues won't prevent the participant from participating, it will be helpful to:
    • Explain the advantages of sharing information with her/his WFPS or WFSSS.
    • Collaborate with the participant and the family violence advocate to develop necessary action steps that address the participant's immediate safety needs.
    • Not refer back the participant or prevent the person from participating when they are willing and able to participate in work-related activities.
  • Ask the participant if it is permissible to share the information with the participant's WFPS/WFSSS and then obtain a signed Consent form (DSHS 14-012), and
  • Encourage the participant to contact the WFPS/WFSSS or family violence worker, and
  • Explain that job search or other deferrals due to family violence require approval by the WFPS/WFSSS.

6.5.11 What is "Good Cause" for not cooperating with the Division of Child Support?

Good Cause allows a participant to be excused from cooperating with Division of Child Support (DCS). The participant must claim to have good cause for not cooperating with DCS. A participant may have good cause when they verify that cooperating with DCS would result in serious physical or emotional harm to themselves or the child in their care. This stops DCS from taking any action to establish an order or to collect child support, which may jeopardize the participants' or family's safety.

The participant must claim and the department must approve or deny the good cause.

If a participant indicates that Family Violence is an issue, consider whether or not Good Cause for non-cooperation with DCS should be established.

  1. DSHS staff explain that participants have the right to claim good cause for not cooperating with DCS.
  2. An individual applying or receiving benefits completes DSHS 18-334 form “Your Options for Child Support Collection” to claim good cause.
    1. Parents and caregivers can access the DSHS 18-334 in the local Community Service Office, a copy of the form can be mailed, or they can access the form online.
  3. DSHS staff completes the steps needed to make a good cause determination.
  4. The individual must be notified of the good cause determination.

For more information, refer to the Good Cause chapter in the Social Service Handbook  and the Child Support chapter in the E-Z Manual.

6.5.12 What is the Address Confidentiality Program?

The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) helps individuals attempting to escape from actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or stalking, to interact with state and local government agencies without disclosing their address or to establish new addresses in order to prevent their assailant or probable assailants from finding them. The Office of the Secretary of State governs this program. The program allows individuals to use an address designated by the secretary of state as a substitute mailing address.

A trained advocate must screen individuals before they can be accepted into the ACP. The advocate will determine if the ACP is right for the individual's circumstances and will enroll the individual in the program. For a current list of advocates trained in your community to sign people up for the ACP, go to https://www.sos.wa.gov/acp/default.aspx and click on the map for your location.

The ACP assists crime victims (specifically victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and stalking) who have relocated to avoid further abuse. ACP helps families keep their home, work and/or school addresses secret by providing a substitute mailing address. DSHS staff must accept this substitute address and enter it into all records; never record the actual street address for work or home of an ACP participant in any automated system. If someone is participating in the ACP, don't require them to disclose their actual work or home address.  For ACP participants, ACES letters don’t include the CSO address on them to protect their geographical location.  When scheduling WF appointments for these participants, all ACES letters instruct the participant to call 1-877-501-2233 or visit https://www.washingtonconnection.org/ to find out the location of their appointment.  Don’t add the CSO’s address or appointment locations. 

By itself, the ACP won't keep a person safe. To be really valuable, using the ACP substitute address must be part of a more complete and long-term safety plan.

If the individual doesn't have their authorization card, government agencies may call the ACP office (360-753-2972) to verify that the individual is an active ACP participant.

6.5.13 Individual Responsibility Plans

IRPs are tailored to each participant. DSHS staff has the ability to create IRPs with activities designed to help a victim deal with the issues that result from family violence.

6.5.14 How do we code family violence participants in eJAS?

In any situation where the participant/caregiver participates in any family violence activities, it is necessary to reflect the information in the IRP. Correct coding of family violence is necessary because of federal reporting requirements regarding all participants on TANF especially for those receiving benefits for more than 60 months.

The following are common examples of family violence situations and the correct way to code and document in eJAS:

  • The family is in a shelter because the family fled an abuser. The participant decides to continue working part time while they are finding permanent housing. In this situation, code the participant PT for the part time employment using the actual number of hours and XF for finding permanent housing using actual number of hours. Document each issue in the proper eJAS notes type making sure to only document references to family violence under the family violence category.
  • The individual is in court ordered perpetrator treatment for abuse related to family violence. The perpetrator is attending perpetrator treatment while simultaneously attending job search. This case would be coded JS and XG to reflect perpetrator treatment. Don't use XF in these cases. Document all court order related notes under legal issues in these circumstances.

When participants disclose family violence, use the XF eJAS code to:

  • Make a referral to the WFSSS, or family violence advocate for one hour, code activity using the number of engaged hours for participants already doing activities to help resolve or cope with family violence issues, and to create a safe environment for the family.

 

Note: XF isn't used for the perpetrator. WFPS/SSS should add other codes (activities) in addition to XF if appropriate based on the Family Violence Service Plan.

  • The open component code in eJAS must reflect the actual number of hours per week the individual participates in a specific activity.

Special circumstance: XF as stand-alone activity. The WFPS/WFSSS, in collaboration with the domestic violence advocate, should determine the actual amount of hours per week that the person will be participating and code those hours in eJAS when participants/caregivers are unable to participate in any other WorkFirst activity except resolving family violence challenges. The participant doesn't have to add any other activities because XF activities are the only participation that the individual is able to do. In this case, the amount of hours doesn't have to reflect 32-40 hours per week. The case needs to reflect the actual amount of hours that the individual is participating.

6.5.15 What family violence services are federally countable?

As part of the Deficit Reduction Act, the XF countable core activities include:

  • Assessments,
  • Creating safety plans,
  • Participation in support groups, and
  • Obtaining required medical care or mental health services or counseling.

Housing and legal issue resolution are not included as federally countable core activities within family violence services. Therefore, the hours for these activities must be reported separately from those mentioned above in order to report the correct federally countable participation. The WorkFirst Participation Verification form must indicate the hours spent working with a participant in family violence countable core activities, listing housing and/or legal services separately.

Since our State cannot report housing and legal issue resolution hours as part of XF countable core activities, the State is not going to get credit for those hours in a federal audit. Even though these activities are not federally countable, housing and legal issue resolution services are still state approved XF activities.

Example:

A participant's Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) and component screens shows that the participant is scheduled for 30 hours of XF activities. When the WFPS or WFSSS receives the WorkFirst Participation Verification form, it indicates 5 hours of counseling, 10 hours of legal services, and 15 hours for securing stable housing. The only hours that can be entered and reported in eJAS actual hours are the 5 hours of counseling.

6.5.16 How are family violence services verified and reported?

In collaboration with family violence advocacy providers, the WFPS/WFSSS gathers documentation that supports participant's individual needs for WorkFirst family violence services.

Contracted family violence providers must report participant's actual hours and progress for family violence activities using eJAS by the 10th day of the following month. See WorkFirst Handbook 3.7.2.5 for contracted service requirements.

Staff sends non-contracted family violence providers the WorkFirst Participation Verification form for each WorkFirst participant noted in eJAS as receiving family violence services. The non-contracted family violence provider completes, signs, and returns these forms or other documents that verify actual hours and progress to the referring WFPS/WFSSS by the 5th day of the following month. The WFPS/WFSSS enters the countable hours indicated on the form in eJAS actual hours by the 15th day of each month for the previous month's activity.

6.5.17 Family Violence - Step-by-step guide

When a participant answers "yes" to any of the family violence screening questions in the screening/evaluation:

The WFPS/WFSSS must:

Good documentation is extremely important in these situations. It is important to document family violence information in the family violence note type in eJAS to protect the safety of participants.

  1. Offer to refer the participant to appropriate family violence services, following CSO guidelines.
  2. Defer job search or other work activities when participation would:
    1. Make it more difficult for the participant to escape family violence; or,
    2. Penalize a person who has been or is at risk of becoming a victim of family violence, or who is at further risk of abuse. Use XF code on the component code screen in eJAS.
  3. Develop an IRP to meet the participant's family violence issues by addressing whether they:
    1. Does not want or need any special program deferrals,
    2. Needs supportive services, but no deferrals from work requirements;
    3. Needs referrals to local resources and/or deferrals to gain stability before actively seeking employment; or,
    4. Include specialized activities and/or work related activities as agreed.
  4. If a participant is enrolled in the ACP, use the ACP address: PO Box 257, Olympia, WA 98507 for work and home addresses in the eJAS screens. Do not use the actual business or employer name in non-special record screening notes e.g., employment
  5. Provide support services, as necessary.
  6. Review local CSO policies and/or refer to the Good Cause chapter in the Social Services Handbook if Good Cause for non-cooperation with DCS is necessary.
  7. Give the participant or send the provider a copy of the eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form as family violence providers are treated as non-contracted service providers. This form will be used by the provider to verify and report the participant's actual hours of participation in domestic violence services.
    • The family violence provider completes, signs, and returns these forms to the referring WFPS/WFSSS by the fifth day of each month, and
    • The WFPS/WFSSS enters the countable core hours indicated on the form in eJAS actual hours by the 15th day of each month for the previous month's activity.

6.5.18 Family Violence and Sanctions

Victims of Family Violence may not be able to participate in job search or work activities. As a result, it is necessary to make every effort to avoid unfairly penalizing participants by imposing sanctions. If family violence is a significant part of the reason a participant has been unable to follow through with the activities in their IRP, don't impose a sanction; rather renegotiate and modify the IRP to address the barrier so that it aligns with any current family violence service plan that moves the participant forward safely. Documentation in eJAS to support your decision is critical.

Note:  Family violence may be a significant part of the reason a participant is unable to follow through with WorkFirst activities whether the family violence is current or occurred in the past. 

A victim of family violence may be sanctioned.  As described in WFHB 3.5.2.4, if a sanctioned person’s circumstances change, their grant, IRP and/or cure requirements may also change.  Waive a family violence victim’s four-week (28 day) cure requirement if their family violence situation is directly or significantly contributing to their inability to participate – see examples of family violence situations below.  

Examples: A participant is sanctioned for refusing to do job search and discloses the month following sanction that they are dealing with family violence issues.  Follow section 6.5.19 Family Violence and Sanctions - Step-by-Step  to discover if family violence  is directly or significantly contributing to their not participating. Below are five different situations with the appropriate response for each.

#1: Good cause found – Current Family violence is preventing participation – Reverse sanction decision

This woman reports that her abuser is intercepting her mail and phone calls and won't allow her to use their shared vehicle and that this has been happening since before her good cause appointment.  Because the family violence is (and was) preventing her participation in  WorkFirst activities, we would reverse the good cause decision, lift the sanction, and remove the sanction penalty back to the date the penalty was first approved.   Refer the participant to a worker or advocate trained in family violence to create a family violence service plan.   Use this family violence service plan as a guide for developing a new IRP and explain that she must participate in the activities agreed upon in her revised IRP to avoid future sanction and retain her TANF grant. For example, the only activity she may be able to safely do is to contact her WFSSS or family violence advocate on a regular basis by phone.  However, she may want to integrate other activities into her IRP as well, and this may be indicated on the family violence service plan. See WFHB 6.5.17.

#2: Good cause found – Past Family violence is preventing participation – Reverse sanction decision

This woman reports that she has been away from the abuser for two years, but when she tries to leave her home, she fears he may find out how to locate her.  She wanted to participate in job search, but could not manage the courage to leave her home.  She also reported that she was ashamed to call her case manager because it happened so long ago.  Because the family violence is (and was) preventing her participation in WorkFirst activities, we would reverse the good cause decision, lift the sanction, and remove the sanction penalty back to the date of sanction.   Refer the participant to a worker or advocate trained in family violence to create a family violence service plan.   Use this family violence service plan as a guide for developing a new IRP and explain that she must participate in the activities agreed upon in her revised IRP to avoid future sanction. For example, the only activity she may be able to safely do is to contact her WFSSS or family violence advocate on a regular basis by phone.  However, she may want to integrate other activities into her IRP as well, and this may be indicated on the family violence service plan. See WFHB 6.5.17

#3: No good cause found – Past Family Violence isn’t preventing participation – Four-week (28 day) sanction cure requirement

This woman comes in to develop a new IRP to cure sanction.  Previous family violence had been disclosed, and she reports that she continued attending weekly family violence support group meetings but stopped attending job search because she thought she found employment and the job fell through.  Past family violence did not contribute to her non-participation.  She will be required to complete a four-week (28 day) cure to lift sanction.  We would encourage her to stay connected with a local advocate or family violence program to assist her in staying safe.  See WFHB 6.5.17

#4: No good cause found – Current Family violence is preventing participation – Waive sanction cure requirement

This man reports that he wants to cure his sanction, but his abuser returned last week and made physical threats.  This is new and significant family violence that will keep him from meeting participation requirements but didn’t exist when he entered sanction.  Regardless of the reason for the original sanction, after the Sanction Re-engagement is completed, we waive his four-week  (28 day) cure requirement and remove the sanction penalty.  We should explain that he must participate in the activities agreed upon in his revised IRP to avoid future sanction.   Refer him to a worker or advocate trained in family violence to create a family violence service plan and use that plan as a guide for developing a new IRP. For example, the only activity he may be able to safely do is to contact his WFSSS or family violence advocate on a regular basis by phone.  See WFHB 6.5.17.

#5: No good cause found – Past Family Violence isn’t preventing participation – Four-week (28 day) sanction cure requirement

This woman reports that she has been away from the abuser for two years, and thinks that she may need some help resolving issues that are a result of living with the abuser but acknowledges that she doesn’t fear that he will find her at this time.  She had answered that she had been in a family violence situation during her Comprehensive Evaluation, but reported that she didn’t need help at that time.  She also reported that she did not attend job search because she lost the paperwork and didn’t know where to go or who to call.  Because family violence was not the reason she was not participating in her IRP, there is no good cause.  Refer the participant to a worker or advocate trained in family violence to create a family violence service plan.   Use this family violence service plan as a guide for developing a new IRP.  Her family violence service plan indicates that with a family violence activity she should be able to participate full-time in another activity.  This woman’s past family violence experience was affecting her current behavior but was not significantly related to her inability to participate.    You discuss the Community Jobs program with her, and she agrees that would be a better fit than returning to job search.  Because she is able to participate in activities other than those related to family violence, she will be required to complete a four-week cure to end sanction.   See WFHB 6.5.17

 

Note:  If a situation occurs where WF staff make an initial determination on the participant’s family violence service plan because an advocate is not available and later the advocate comes to a different conclusion about what the client can safely do, the worker should discuss the family violence service plan with the advocate. 

6.5.19 Family Violence and Sanctions - Step-by-Step

Screen or re-screen participants for family violence during the good cause appointment before sanctioning a participant and proceed with sanction if screening doesn't identify family violence. However, if screening identifies family violence follow the steps below:

  1. Consult with a WFSSS or family violence advocate (Case Staffing) to determine if the violence is preventing the participant from participating in job search or work activities if screening identifies family violence.

    1. Clearly document this in the family violence notes and continue the sanction process if family violence isn't currently impacting the participant's ability to do job search or work activities; or

    2. Enter XF eJAS coding if family violence prevents the participant from job search or work activities to:
      1. Refer to the WFSSS, or family violence advocate and use one hour for participation hours.
      2. Use the scheduled appointment date with the DV advocate as the end date of the XF, or 10 days from the start date if there is no scheduled appointment.
      3. Once the WorkFirst participant has met with the DV advocate or trained WFSSS, update the number of hours for XF participation based on the Family Violence Service Plan.
      4. Code activity using the number of engaged hours for participants already doing activities to help resolve or cope with family violence issues, and to create a safe environment for the family.
    3. Don't proceed with the sanction process.

    4. Update the 'special record' IRP in eJAS with appropriate activities that will move the participant forward safely.

      1. Clearly document your decision if the participant disclosed family violence, but you determining that whatever abuse is currently taking place, or historically occurred isn't the reason they aren't following through with their IRP.                                                                                                    

Note: Documentation of the family violence issues must be indicated in the Family Violence Category in eJAS.  

  1. Review the circumstances and follow steps above to determine whether to remove the sanction if a participant is already in sanction when they disclose family violence or when family violence begins.    

Good documentation is extremely important in these situations. It is important to document family violence information in the family violence note type in eJAS to protect the safety of participants.

 

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Forms

Other Resources

6.6 Disabilities (physical, mental & learning disabilities)

Revised September 20, 2021

(some time-limited core)

Legal References:

The Disabilities section includes:

  • 6.6.1 What are medical conditions?
  • 6.6.2 Guiding principles
  • 6.6.3 Basic Process
  • 6.6.4 How do I get medical evidence?
  • 6.6.5 How do I complete the medical evidence IRP?
  • 6.6.6 How do I pay for medical evidence?
  • 6.6.7 How do I evaluate evidence and establish participation requirements?
  • 6.6.8 eJAS Codes
  • 6.6.9 Medical Conditions - Step-by-Step Guide

6.6.1 What are medical conditions?

This section includes information about medical conditions (physical, mental, emotional disorders or learning disabilities) that can interfere with a participant's ability to work, prepare for work or look for work. Substance abuse/chemical dependency, which can also interfere with participation, is covered in the following section of the handbook, Substance Abuse 6.7.

  • A physical disorder (XM) often affects a participant's ability to perform physical tasks in a normal day-to-day setting. For example, a participant might not be able to see, hear, move freely or lift weight. The impact of a physical disorder can often be mitigated by use of adaptive accommodation such as a ramp for a participant who uses a wheelchair.
  • Mental and emotional disorders (XG) can affect a participant's ability to think clearly or respond appropriately in a work setting. For example, the participant may seem mentally preoccupied, have trouble following directions or have difficulty in getting along with others in the workplace.
  • A learning disability (XJ) is a neurological condition that impedes a participant's ability to receive, store, process or express information. It can affect one's ability to read, write, communicate, or compute math.

6.6.2 Guiding Principles

We cannot approve deferrals or exemptions without medical evidence that documents what the participant can and cannot do.

Our goal is to promote consistent decisions, increased participation and better outcomes for WorkFirst participants with physical, mental or emotional conditions. Use these guiding principles when you learn a participant has a medical condition:

  • Make decisions based on the medical information provided by the participant.
  • WorkFirst helps participants define and manage limitations and build on strengths.
  • Disability and WorkFirst staff work together to get the best participant outcomes.
  • Mitigate limitations and make participation as full-time as possible, as soon as possible.
  • Encourage and help participants with chronic and severe disabilities make long-term plans (such as accessing SSI, Social Security Disability or DVR).

6.6.3 Basic Process

As shown in the Medical Evidence Evaluation Basic Flow Chart, WorkFirst will use a consistent process to respond when we become aware that a participant may have a physical disorder (XM), a mental or emotional disorder (XG) or a learning disability (XJ). Throughout the process, we accommodate limitations and require the participant to participate as full-time as possible.

Start by obtaining medical evidence so we know what the participant can and cannot do. Get the medical evidence even if you know the participant has applied for SSI on his or her own. We need the evidence to determine whether the participant qualifies for a WorkFirst deferral or exemption, and whether we will facilitate the participant's SSI application.

Once the evidence is in, triage the case with a social service specialist as needed, and assign the case as follows:

  • The WFPS handles the case when a physical, mental or emotional condition (XM or XG) is expected to last 3 months or less.
  • As conditions get longer-term or more complex, social service specialists may handle the case to make decisions and establish IRP requirements.
  • Participants with severe and chronic medical conditions will be assessed for SSI and, if they want to work, we may refer to DVR for services.
  • The SSI Facilitator helps viable candidates apply for SSI and monitors their progress.

6.6.4 How do I get medical evidence?

When the participant reports, or appears to have, a medical, mental or emotional condition that interferes with their ability to participate, obtain medical evidence to determine what the participant can and cannot do.  Types of providers you may use are found in WAC 388-310-0350.

Obtain the following information from the participant up front, so we can follow up as needed:

  • A signed consent form, DSHS 14-012, so we can share information, including any accommodations the participant needs to participate.
  • For conditions reported to last less than 3 months, a DSHS 10-353 form or alternative type of medical information documenting what the participant can and cannot do.
  • For conditions expected to last 3 months or longer, a DSHS 10-353 form (when needed) and chart notes to determine what the participant can and cannot do with their impairments. However, we must accept an alternative type of evidence, as described in the IRP, if that is what the participant turns in.
  • When the participant reports and verifies a disability that appears to be severe and chronic, gather objective medical evidence, as needed, which is described in WAC 388-449-0015.
  • An IRP requiring the participant to obtain medical evidence.

Note:  If staff don’t have access to Barcode, they may use a hard copy of the DSHS 14-050, Statement of Health, Education and Employment form, in case the medical evidence shows the participant may be a viable SSI candidate.

We may augment this medical evidence later if it appears the participant may qualify for SSI.

6.6.5 How do I complete the medical evidence IRP?

Complete the IRP using the OR eJAS component code requiring the participant to obtain medical evidence within 30 days. Offer to help the participant obtain the evidence as needed. Get supervisory approval before you give the participant more than 30 days to obtain medical evidence.

If needed, you can extend the time in 30-day increments with supervisory approval, if you also do the following:

  • Document why more time is needed in eJAS notes
  • See if you can help the participant get evidence sooner
  • Consider referring the participant to a social service specialist for help in obtaining evidence.

The OR IRP template requires the participant to provide the DSHS 10-353 form or alternative medical evidence that provides the:

  • Diagnosis,
  • How long their medical condition is expected to last,
  • Specific limitations stemming from their medical condition,
  • Treatment plans, and
  • The number of hours per week the participant can work, look for work or prepare for work.

The OR IRP template also requires chart notes for the current medical condition unless the condition is expected to last for 3 months or less.

6.6.6 How do I pay for medical evidence?

We may use WorkFirst support services to pay for medical evidence when existing medical evidence is insufficient and the participant would incur a cost to obtain the necessary examinations or testing.

We may purchase exams or testing to:

  • Determine if a participant’s impairments are appropriate for an SSI referral; or

  • Support a SSI application when:

    • Recommended by the contracted doctor, or

    • Following an SSI denial if it was overlooked and appears necessary to establish SSI eligibility.

Note:  If the participant has worked with a psychologist or psychiatrist, we may be able to get sufficient information for an SSI referral from existing chart notes.

Do not use WorkFirst support services to purchase medical evidence when:

  • Exams or testing can be paid by Washington Apple Health or are available from free clinics.
  • DDS or DVR is expected to purchase the exams or testing as part of their eligibility determination process.

Washington Apple Health should normally cover the cost of the medical exam and form completion. However, the medical professional may charge for copies of the participant's chart notes. It may be appropriate to pay for missed doctor appointments when we set up the appointment for the participant and the participant was not able to give the doctor a 24-hour cancellation notice.

See categories 34 (testing/diagnostic) and 37 (medical exams/services) in the WorkFirst Support Services Directory for the types of medical exams and services we can purchase using support services.

6.6.7 How do I evaluate evidence and establish participation requirements?

Review the DSHS 10-353, WorkFirst Documentation Request for Medical/Disability Condition and any chart notes. If the participant provides alternative medical evidence, contact the doctor as needed to obtain the key information below.

  1. Determine if there are any conditions listed that limit the participant's ability to work, prepare for work or look for work. If not, do a full-time IRP as described on the medical participation requirements chart.
  2. Complete or update the participant's EA screening as needed and determine if there are countable activities where we can avoid or accommodate the limitations. If so, document the condition, provide needed accommodations and do a full-time IRP with appropriate activities.
  3. Refer complex and longer-term cases to a social service specialist, using the RR eJAS referral code until the participant has a deferral or exemption.
  4. Determine the participant's hourly participation capacity based on the medical evidence and set participation requirements as shown on the medical participation requirements chart.
  5. See WorkFirst Handbook 6.8, Exemptions, if the medical evidence shows the participant's medical condition is chronic (will last 12 months or more) and severe (they can participate 10 hours or less per week). We will need to decide whether to refer the participant to SSI and the participant may qualify for a WorkFirst exemption or long-term deferral.
     
  6. If the participant has filed an SSI application on their own, but does NOT have a chronic and severe condition, let the SSIF know so they can track the SSI application. However, we will not get additional medical evidence or provide formal SSI facilitation.
  7. Some participant's may have a DVR Plan. If so, coordinate their IRP with their DVR Plan. (See Social Services Manual and Reporting DVR Plan Hours.)
  8. Share information about any accommodations the participant needs to participate with the WorkFirst partner or contractor when you refer the participant to them for activities. This is allowable with the signed DSHS 14-012 Consent form.
  9. Establish the deferral or exemption end date based on the participant's medical evidence, not to exceed 12 months.
  10. Review the case when the deferral or exemption expires to determine whether the participant may require another deferral or exemption. If so, obtain new medical evidence following the process above and update the EA Plan as needed.

6.6.8 eJAS codes

Depending upon the participant's situation, use these eJAS codes:

  • OR (obtaining medical evidence) - used on the IRP to require medical evidence.
  • RR (review medical evidence) - used when a participant is referred to a social service specialist for IRP and SSI decisions. The code is kept in place until the exemption or IRP is done.
  • XM (temporary physical incapacity, medical treatment)
  • XJ (learning disability services)
  • XG (mental health services or treatment)

6.6.9 Disabilities - Step-by-step guide

  1. The WFPS or WFSSS uses an IRP with the OR eJAS component code to request medical evidence (the DSHS 10-353 and chart notes or an alternative type of evidence listing diagnosis, duration, specific limitations, treatment plans and the number of hours per week the participant can work, look for work or prepare for work). Also obtain a signed DSHS 14-012 and the DSHS 14-050 .
  2. Complete an EA screening or plan update to determine accommodations the participant needs to access services and/or participate.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS, based on the medical evidence and EA screening, determines:
    1. Whether we can mitigate or accommodate limitations and the participant can participate full-time.
    2. Whether to refer to a social service specialist with the RR eJAS component code for case management or a possible SSI referral.
    3. Participation requirements. (See the medical participation requirements chart for more details.)
    4. Opens the appropriate X eJAS component codes based on the duration of the disability, but not to exceed 12 months, and eJAS codes for other required activities.
    5. Updates the IRP and provides needed support services.
  4. If the participant is suspected of having a LD, the participant is referred to the WFSSS who uses the eJAS learning needs screen:
    1. Uses all available information, participant observation, and Learning Needs note type in eJAS to determine if a LD may be the primary barrier to employment; and,
    2. If so, contacts the local Learning Disabilities Association of Washington, local community college or other LD provider to determine if it would be appropriate to refer the participant for further evaluation and additional services. Enter RO when making a referral for LD services. Enter XJ if the participant is participating in LD treatment.

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6.7 Substance Abuse

Revised: September 20, 2021

(Time-limited core)

Legal References:

The Substance Abuse section includes:

  • 6.7.1 What is substance abuse?
  • 6.7.2 What is Chemical Dependency?
  • 6.7.3 Who does the substance abuse assessment?
  • 6.7.4 Who is financially eligible?
  • 6.7.5 Who are Priority Populations?
  • 6.7.6 What are the requirements for Modality of Care?
  • 6.7.7 What are the different Treatment Modalities?
  • 6.7.8 What are there specialized programs and services administered by the Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse
  • 6.7.9 Confidentiality
  • 6.7.10 eJAS Codes
  • 6.7.11 Substance Abuse - Step-by-Step.

6.7.1 What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse is the misuse or overuse of a legal or illegal chemical or substance, including alcohol, in a way that is different from the way it is generally used medically or socially.

Abuse either creates disruption or problems for the user or complicates an existing problem in the individual's life. It does not matter whether the person is abusing the substance by choice, or abusing as part of an addictive pattern. Eventually, substance abuse will impact the person physically, behaviorally, socially, occupationally, or in other ways and often leads to chemical dependency.

6.7.2 What is Chemical Dependency?

Chemical dependency occurs when the person's abuse of alcohol, chemicals, or other substances progresses to physical and/or psychological dependence. Chemical dependency means the person is addicted to the substance. Addiction is the loss of control and compulsive use of a mood or mind altering chemical along with the inability to stop the use in spite of the fact that such use is causing problems in their life.

6.7.3 Who does the substance abuse assessment?

Substance Abuse Assessments must be completed by a Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP) to determine:

  • Substance abuse.
  • Chemical addiction.
  • Level of treatment (if any) that is required to address the individual's needs.

6.7.4 Who is financially eligible for substance abuse treatment?

Persons who are eligible for WorkFirst and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) likely qualify for Washington Apple Health.

WorkFirst participants do not need to be referred by an ADATSA assessment agency to receive treatment. They can receive assessment and treatment services from any DASA treatment agency contracted to provide services to WorkFirst participants.

WorkFirst participants without Washington Apple Health due to citizenship verification requirements who need chemical dependency treatment may be able to access ADATSA (W02) services. Please refer to section 6.3.5 How do we treat participants with medial issues who do not have Washington Apple Health?

Require participants to apply for Washington Apple Health in his or her IRP if they don’t currently have coverage or have let their coverage lapse so they can access any needed chemical dependency assessment or treatment.  Failure to apply for Washington Apple Health without good cause will result in sanction (See WAH Application IRP for suggested IRP language).

Note:

  • Participants who do not meet the above criteria and whose income is below a specified means test are also eligible to receive outpatient treatment services under a sliding fee schedule for payment.
  • Children who do not meet the above criteria and whose family income is below a specified means test may also be eligible to receive residential treatment.

6.7.5 Who are priority populations?

Priority populations are pregnant individuals, injecting drug users, WorkFirst families (parents with dependent children), and youth.

Consider a referral for a substance abuse assessment when there is.
Some conditions are so severe that a participant should be concentrating solely on getting medical treatment.
A history of unfinished substance abuse treatment.
Behavior consistent with being under the influence of excessive drug/alcohol use, such as:
  • Slurred speech,
  • An odor of alcohol,
  • Balance problems, or
  • Skin lesions indicative of drug use.
Individuals self-reporting that drug or alcohol use caused:
  • Job loss or a refusal of employment
  • Legal problems (possession, theft, assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest, or child abuse or neglect)
  • Arrest for driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Fights or arguments
  • Emergency room visits or hospitalizations
  • Needing help, seeking help in the past or getting help in the past
  • Being told by friends or family members that she or he drinks alcohol or uses drugs too much
  • Blackouts (not remembering things that one has said or done while drinking or using other drugs)

6.7.6 What are the requirements for Modality of Care?

Admission to modality of care is determined based on the American Society for Addiction Medicine patient placement criteria.

6.7.7 What are the different Treatment Modalities?

1. Detoxification Services

  • Assists individuals in withdrawing from alcohol and other chemicals.
  • Acute detoxification provides medical care and physician supervision.
  • Sub-acute detoxification provides non-medical detoxification or patient self-administration of withdrawal medications ordered by a physician and provided in a home like environment.

2. Intensive Inpatient/Residential Treatment

Provides up to 30 days of a concentrated short-term program of:

  • Individual and group counseling by a CDP.
  • Education.
  • Activities for detoxified alcoholics/addicts and their families.

3. Recovery House/Residential Treatment

Provides up to 60 days of care and treatment with social, vocational, and recreational activities to aid in patient adjustment to abstinence and to aid in job training, employment, or other types of community activities. Treatment includes individual and group counseling by a CDP.

4. Long-term Inpatient/Residential Treatment

Provides up to 180 days of care and treatment to chronically impaired alcoholics/addicts who have personal-care capabilities. Treatment includes:

  • Education.
  • Individual and group counseling by a CDP.
  • Development of social and coping skills.
  • Assistance with re-entry living skills.

5. Outpatient Treatment

Programs of care include individual and group treatment services of varying duration and intensity according to a prescribe Treatment Plan and education directed at relapse prevention, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B & C, and sexually transmitted diseases.

6.7.8 Are there other specialized programs and services administered by the Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse?

The Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) also administer Pregnant and Parenting Women's (PPW) programs, such as Safe Babies Safe Moms (SBSM) and Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP), and treatment for Opiate dependence.

PPW programs address specialized needs associated with substance abuse/chemical dependency for pregnant and parenting women, including:

  • Therapeutic child care for women in residential treatment
  • Counseling to address other issues including:
    • Sexual Assault
    • Incest
    • Eating Disorders
    • Family Planning
    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
    • Domestic Violence
    • Mental Health Issues
    • Life Skills training
    • Vocational/Employment Services
    • Transitional Housing

Safe Babies/Safe Moms Program:

  • Professional Model available only in Whatcom, Snohomish, Benton, and Franklin Counties.
  • Targeted Intensive Case Management for up to 3 years.
  • Specialized counseling or referral to address issues as described under the Pregnant and parenting Women's Programs.

Parent Child Assistance Program:

  • Paraprofessional model of case management and up to the target child's third birthday.
  • Available only in King, Pierce, Yakima, Spokane, Grant, Cowlitz, and Skagit counties.
  • Specialized counseling or referral to address issues as described under the Pregnant and Parenting Women's Programs.

Opiate Dependency

  • Opiate substitution treatment (Methadone).
  • Outpatient treatment including individual and group counseling.

6.7.9 Confidentiality

Federal law prohibits the disclosure of personal information relating to alcohol and/or drug use, with criminal and civil penalties applied for unauthorized disclosure. This means:

  • Treatment agencies cannot give you any information without a signed copy of the DSHS 17-063 Authorization to Release Information. This must be provided with the requested DSHS 14-310 Client Status Report, and/or the HCA 04-418, DBHR Target Treatment Activities form.
  • You cannot share any substance abuse information with other agencies without getting this same form signed by the participant (releasing information from you to the other agency).

Be particularly thorough in the completion of the form if you are requesting an exchange of information regarding a participant either:

  • With an assessment/treatment agency, or
  • To share information with another program/agency

The form must be very specific as to the purpose of the release and to whom the information is to be shared. If the forms are not completed thoroughly and correctly, the treatment agency cannot give any information and you may not share information.

Information stored in eJAS Special Records Chemical Dependency notes is highly restricted and protected. Enter all substance abuse assessment and treatment information on the Chemical Dependency Special Records screen in eJAS notes. Do not document information about substance abuse assessment or treatment in less protected areas of eJAS.

When adding the requirement to follow through with a substance abuse assessment and any treatment requirements on the individual's IRP, the WFPS or WFSSS needs to add the requirements to the Special Records IRP available in eJAS.

6.7.10 eJAS Codes

For tracking purposes, it is very important to always enter the following appropriate eJAS code when a participant is referred for a substance abuse assessment and when an individual enters treatment.

Use the following appropriate eJAS code when an individual is referred for a substance abuse assessment or when an individual enters treatment: SR - Referred for substance abuse ASSESSMENT.

  • SR - Referred for substance abuse ASSESSMENT
  • XE - Enters substance abuse TREATMENT

6.7.11 Substance Abuse - Step-by-step guide

  1. The WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) suspects there is a substance abuse problem and:
  • Refers the individual to a Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) contracted treatment agency using the following forms:
    • HCA 04-418, DBHR Target Treatment Activities form.
    • DSHS 17-063, Authorization to Exchange Confidential Information Form (having the participant sign and date the form).
    • DSHS 14-299, Adult Assessment Referral Form (flag the referral as a WorkFirst/TANF referral).
  • Uses local procedures to schedule the appointment.
  • Enters SR (substance abuse referral code) in eJAS.
  • Documents in eJAS Chemical Dependency note type and creates an IRP using the Special Records IRP available in eJAS.
  • Gives the participant or sends the provider a copy of the eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form
  1. If an Employment Security Department (ESD) counselor or community college employee observes signs and/or symptoms that indicate substance abuse may be impairing a participant's ability to look for work, the contractor refers the participant to the WFPS or WFSSS and document in eJAS.
  2. The treatment agency completes the assessment, and
    • Sends the Community Service Office (CSO) the 14-299 Adult Assessment Referral Form, indicating:
    • Whether the participant needs treatment and if so, where the participant will go for treatment.
  3. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment providers will use the DSHS 14-310 Client Status Change Report Form and HCA 04-418 DBHR Target Treatment Activities form. Both forms will be sent by the WFPS or WFSSS to the provider, to verify treatment activities or changes in treatment activities. 
  • The eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form (see 3.7.2), will be sent to the provider, will be used to verify the participant's actual hours of participation in treatment activities including AA meetings etc.
    • Providers will use the 04-418 DBHR Target Treatment Activities form for participant's treatment reporting  for the following actions:
      • The treatment plan established for the participant.
      • Failure to participate.
      • Referral to another provider.
      • Changes in the treatment provided.
      • Discharge from treatment.
      • Child care needs (when in-house child care is not provided by the facility).
  1. Both Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP) and Safe Babies Safe  Moms (SBSM) providers will also use the eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form to report and verify the individual's actual hours of participation in PCAP and SBSM activities.
  2. The WFPS or WFSSS:
    • Opens XE in eJAS once the participant enters treatment.
    • Enters substance abuse information in the Special Records under the category Chemical Dependency in eJAS notes.
    • Maintains the case record in the originating CSO when placement is made outside of the catchment area if the participant plans on returning to that area.
    • Provides support services, as needed.
    • Adds other activities to the IRP when the participants is ready, in consultation with the treatment provider.
  3. If the WFPS or WFSSS finds out that a participant is already in treatment, they:
    • Do nothing, if treatment does not interfere with other required WorkFirst activities.
    • Send a DSHS 17-063 Authorization to Release Information form, a letter of referral and a copy of the participant's IRP to the treatment provider to coordinate treatment with WorkFirst requirements.
    • Establish communication with treatment staff to discuss the participant's full course of treatment. Convene a case staffing to discuss the participant's situation. Treatment plans established by CDPs may include ancillary activities outside of the treatment agency (i.e. AA meetings, anger management counseling, etc.)

Relapse During Recovery:

It is not uncommon for individuals to relapse during treatment, especially during the early stages of recovery. Relapses, within themselves, should not be considered as non-compliance. Therefore, individuals should not be sanctioned or have treatment services denied just because there was a relapse.

Non-compliance:

Without good cause, failure to have a substance abuse assessment or attend treatment when the need has been identified may be considered non-compliance. Work closely with the CDP to ensure the treatment plan is being following. Case staffings involving the individual and the CDP are strongly recommended. Individuals are much more likely to be successful in their recovery if they have support of others including the WFPS and WFSSS.

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6.8 Exemptions

Created on: 
Apr 09 2018

Revised December 17, 2018

Legal References:

The Exemptions section includes:

  • 6.8.1 What are exemptions?
  • 6.8.2 Infant and toddler exemptions
  • 6.8.3 Older needy caretaker relative exemptions
  • 6.8.4 Caring for a child with special needs
  • 6.8.5 Caring for an adult relative with disabilities
  • 6.8.6 Adults with chronic and severe disabilities
  • 6.8.7 SSI Referrals
  • 6.8.8 DVR Referrals
  • 6.8.9 Can exempt participants have mandatory participation requirements?
  • 6.8.10 Can exempt participants voluntarily participate?
  • 6.8.11  eJAS codes
  • 6.8.12 Exemptions - Step-by-Step Guide

6.8.1 What are exemptions?

Exemptions waive requirements for participants who aren't able to actively participate in working, looking for work or preparing for work. We may lift participation requirements and approve exemptions for participants with children under two and older needy caretaker relatives. Grant participants an exemption if they:

  1. Are the participants or legal guardian of a child under two or less,
  2. Are a needy caregiver relative and aged 55 or older,
  3. Have a severe and chronic medically verified condition (including individuals likely to be approved for SSI or other federal benefits),
  4. Must be in the home to care for a child with special needs, or
  5. Must be in the home to care for an adult relative with a severe and chronic medical condition.

Defer participants who have health or family issues that temporarily interfere with their ability to work (instead of exempt) from job search and other WorkFirst activities. See WFHB 6.3, Deferrals, for more information.

Documentation to support an exemption may come from a variety of sources based on the participant's situation. Medical documentation must be adequate to identify the severity and duration of the disability. Exemptions can't be approved without the appropriate documentation.

6.8.2 Infant and toddler exemptions (previously known as infant exemption extensions)

For the Infant Exemption see WFHB 5.1, Pregnancy to Employment and WAC 388-310-0300 and WAC 388-310-1450 (exemption from full-time participation for a maximum of 730 days in a lifetime if caring for a child less than two years of age).

6.8.3 Older needy caretaker relative exemptions

For an older, needy caretaker relative, proof of age (55 or older) is all that is needed to approve an exemption. These exemptions do not require periodic reviews to determine if the relative continues to meet exemption criteria.

6.8.4 Caring for a Child with Special Needs

We may approve an exemption for an individual who is needed in the home to care for a child with a special medical, developmental, mental or behavioral condition when the child is determined to require specialized care or treatment that significantly interferes with the individual's ability to prepare for work, look for work or work.

Documentation may include statements by a public health nurse, physician, mental health provider, school professional, other medical professional, HCS, MHD and/or a RSN.

To determine whether the individual qualifies for an exemption:

  • Require the individual to provide documentation within 30 days, or up to 90 days if needed, which supports the need for the exemption including medical documentation.
  • Complete a social service specialist assessment as needed
  • Review the documentation and determine exemption approval or denial. If the documentation shows the participant can participate 10 hours or less per week, approve the exemption.

The exemption must be reviewed at least every 12 months to determine if the person continues to meet the exemption criteria. Depending upon the individual's circumstances, the review period may be shorter. You may also consider convening a case staffing as you review the case. See the 3.4 Case Staffing section for more information.

See 6.4 Children: Special Needs section for more information about children with special needs. See also Examples of Caring for a Child with Special Needs.

6.8.5 Caring for an adult relative with disabilities

We may approve exemptions for individuals needed in the home to care for an adult relative with a verified disability who cannot be left alone for significant periods of time and the individual is the only one available to provide care. Exempt the individual if she or he can only participate 10 hours or less per week because of providing this care.

Documentation includes evidence of disability from a medical/mental health professional or from DDD, DVR, MHD, RSN or HCS. The exemption approval process and review requirements are the same as those for Children with Special Needs.

6.8.6 Adults with chronic and severe disabilities

We may approve exemptions or long-term deferrals for adults with chronic and severe disabilities. To make the exemption/deferral decision:

  • Follow the process described in WFHB 6.6, Disabilities to obtain medical evidence to document the need for an exemption/deferral.
  • Complete a social service specialist assessment.
  • Complete any needed Equal Access screening or update of the individual's Accommodation Plan.
  • Use the medical evidence to determine if the condition is chronic and severe.
    • Chronic means the condition is expected to last 12 months or more.
    • Severe means the person is able to participate 10 hours or less per week.

If the medical evidence shows the person has a chronic and severe physical, mental or emotional disorder:

  • Approve XB and make an SSI referral, following the process in 6.8.7 below. If the person refuses to cooperate with the SSI referral process, determine good cause for refusal to participate.
  • Also approve a 12-month XG or XM deferral if the medical condition is responsive to treatment and treatment is available. You can require the client to apply for medical coverage, as needed, to access treatment. (See WAH Application IRP for suggested IRP language).
  • If the medical condition is not expected to respond to treatment:
    • Do not add the XG or XM to monitor participation in treatment, and
    • If the participant is unlikely to qualify for SSI, approve an exemption (ZD)
      • Examples:
        • The participant does not meet the citizenship requirements for SSU.
        • The participant is denied at the SSI final level (post-appeal) and medical evidence still verifies that they have a chronic and severe disability.

SSI referrals (XB), exemptions (ZD) and long-term deferrals (XG or XM) must be reviewed at least every 12 months to determine if the person continues to have a chronic and severe medical condition.

6.8.7 SSI Referrals

A participant with chronic and severe disabilities may be approved for SSI, resulting in long-term cash assistance and on-going health care coverage. However, it can take a year (or more) to get a final decision.

The Disability Specialist or WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (decided locally):

  • Uses the SSI Track Flow Chart to determine who may receive facilitated SSI applications (similar to the ABD process).

  • Uses any medical evidence to determine when a participant potentially meets SSA disability criteria. See the Social Services Manual for more information.
  • Determines if additional medical evidence may be needed, including:
    • Chart notes dating back to the original diagnosis by a physician and copies of diagnostic reports (such as X-rays, blood work and MRI's.)
    • Psychological exam, which may include psychological testing to establish or rule out conditions such as cognitive impairments. The WorkFirst Social Service Specialist can use a voucher to purchase an evaluation if the participant has no current psychological evaluations or has never completed a psychological evaluation with Washington Apple Health.
  • Helps the participant obtain the evidence, as needed, and ensures they understand they do not need to pay the costs, if any.
  • Notifies the SSI Facilitator if the participant has already applied for SSI on their own, for tracking of the application.
  • If the participant has a long-term disability but appears unlikely to meet SSA criteria, the WFSSS:
    • Removes the XB component
    • Approves a ZD exemption or maintains a long-term XG or XM deferral
    • Considers a DVR referral, and
    • Refers the case back to WFPS/WFSSS
  • If the participant’s disability appears likely to meet SSA criteria, the WFSSS refers directly to the SSI Facilitator with all relevant medical records.

  • If it is unclear whether the participant’s disability will meet SSA criteria, the WFSSS refers the case to the contracted physician using the barcode TANF Disability Assessment subsystem. (See TANF Contracted Physician Referral Desk Aid for instructions on process and completing DSHS 14-507 Disability Assessment).

  • Documents needed for the TANF contracted Physician Referral:

    • Recent medical records and all relevant medical records that help to establish duration of impairment or show treatment history.

The WorkFirst Social Service Specialist:

  • Issues needed support services.
  • Maintains eJAS component codes.
  • Maintains the participant's IRP.
  • Provides any desired DVR referrals.
Note: See section 6.8.8 for DRV Referrals.

The contracted physician:

  • Determines when a participant appears to meet SSI Disability criteria.

  • Provides a DSHS 14-507B, Disability Assessment: TANF Decision form with their review and reasons for approval or denial.

The SSIF:

  • Facilitates and tracks the participant's SSI claim.
  • Reviews SSI denials to decide whether to pursue reconsideration.
  • Authorizes additional testing with an approved ETR if needed for the reconsideration.
  • Refers cases that are not appropriate for SSI reconsideration back to the WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist for exemption or continued long-term deferral and possible DVR referral.
  • Tracks SSI applications that participants have filed on their own, but are unlikely to meet SSA criteria.

 

 

6.8.8 DVR Referrals

You may also refer individuals with a chronic and severe medical condition to DVR, following the process in the Social Services Manual - DVR, if they want to become employable. If accepted into the program, DVR can provide:

  • Services to eliminate, circumvent, or mitigate an impediment(s) to employment;
  • Support services, like transportation, adaptive devices, child care, and services to family members; and
  • Assessment, diagnostic and evaluation services to develop employability plans.
  • See Reporting DVR Plan Hours for coding and reporting hours.

6.8.9 Can exempt participants have mandatory participation requirements?

Exempt participants may have mandatory participation requirements when they have a severe and chronic disability.  WorkFirst will provide services or refer these participants to service providers that will help them:

  • Pursue SSI or another type of federal disability benefit, which may include gathering objective medical evidence as described in WAC 388-449-0015 in preparation of the SSI application process; and/or
  • Participate in available treatment that is recommended by the participant's medical or mental health provider or chemical dependency professional.

6.8.10 Can exempt participants voluntarily participate?

Exempt individuals may voluntarily participate. WorkFirst will provide services or refer voluntarily participating individuals to other service providers to help them enhance their employability and move into employment.

For those who voluntarily participate, do not remove the eJAS exemption codes so you can ensure that sanction will not be imposed for failure to participate.

6.8.11 eJAS codes

Use the following codes on the eJAS component code screen when an individual is approved for an exemption or long-term deferral:

  • ZA (approved exemption for an older caretaker relative)
  • ZB (approved exemption for an individual needed in the home to care for a disabled adult relative)
  • ZC (approved exemption for an individual needed in the home to care for a child with special needs)
  • ZD (adult with severe and chronic disabilities that are not amenable to treatment)
  • XB (pursuing SSI/L&I/VA or other benefits) Used to indicate cases being assessed for a facilitated SSI application or accepted for SSI Facilitation.
  • XD (indicates the participant has DVR-required rehabilitation activities and/or time spent with the DVR counselor)
  • XG (mental health condition and required to access available, helpful treatment)
  • XM(physical condition and required to access available, helpful treatment)

6.8.12 Exemptions - Step-by-step guide

The WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist works with individuals as described below.

  1. Needy Caretakers : Approves exemptions for needy caretaker relatives who are age 55 or older and codes it on the eJAS component code screen as " ZA "
  2. Infant Exemptions : Follows the process in WFHB 5.1, Pregnancy to Employment, to determine eligibility for the infant exemption see WFHB 5.1, Pregnancy to Employment
  3. Caring for a child or adult : Allows individuals who are needed in the home to care for a child or adult relative:
    1. 30 days to gather needed verification.
    2. May allow up to an additional 60 days, as needed, to give the individual more time to gather documentation, reviewing the case at least every 30 days.
    3. Reviews medical or other documentary evidence, including evaluations from the SSI facilitator or public health nurse, and approves the exemption if the participants is only able to participate 0 to 10 hours per week.
    4. May set up a case staffing, as needed, following the process in section WFHB 3.4 Case Staffing, (making sure to include the appropriate staff or medical professionals).
    5. After the exemption decision is made:
      1. Makes any needed changes to the IRP.
  4. Medical Exemption : For individuals with chronic and severe physical, mental or emotional conditions:
    1. Uses the process in WFHB 6.6, Disabilities , to obtain medical evidence.
    2. Approves XB and considers SSI if the medical evidence shows the condition is expected to last 12 months or more and the individual can participate 10 hours or less per week. (See SSI Track Flow Chart for details.)
      • Requires the participant to pursue SSI or another type of federal disability benefit in their IRP which may include gathering objective medical evidence as described in WAC 388-449-0015 in preparation of the SSI application process and
      • Requires treatment in their IRP, if recommended by their treating medical or mental health provider or by a chemical dependency professional.
    3. Also approves a 12-month XG or XM deferral, requiring treatment only, if treatment is available and expected to improve the medical condition.
    4. Completes a DVR referral if the person wants to become employable.
    5. Refers the case back to WorkFirst at any point the person does not appear SSI eligible, and approves a ZD exemption or continues the XG/XM long-term deferral.

Resources

 

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Chapter 7: Education & Training

7.1 Overview

Created on: 
Mar 01 2017

Revised On: March 1, 2017

The Education & Training Overview section includes:

  • 7.1.1 What are the WorkFirst Training Options?
  • 7.1.2 When can you add it to an IRP?
  • 7.1.3 How to calculate the education and training class and homework hours
  • 7.1.4 How DSHS calculates non-contracted/non-partner homework hours
  • 7.1.5 Step-by-step guide - Non-contracted/non-partner homework hours (DSHS Only)
  • 7.1.6 What steps do you take when a participant is absent?

7.1.1 What are the WorkFirst Training Options?

A participant's employment plan may include education and training based on the results of the comprehensive evaluation , the strategy for stacking activities or the continuous activity planning (CAP) meeting.

The WorkFirst program offers several training options for participants and young adults to enhance their skills and employability. There are different rules and procedures to follow for the various options.

Education and training includes:

  • "Core" educational activities:
    • Vocational education:
      • Vocational Education ( VE )
      • Customized Job Skills Training ( PE )
      • Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training - I-BEST ( VE )
      • High-Wage, High-Demand Training ( HW )
      • Degree Completion (DC)
    • Life Skills Training (LS)
    • High School completion or High School equivalency age 19 or younger (HS)
    • Internships and Practicums (WE)
    • Work Study (PT)
  • "Non-core" educational activities:
    • Skills Enhancement  (called Job Skills Training Directly Related to Employment in the federal rules) ( JT)
    • English as a Second Language (ESL) when stacked with core activities ( JT )
    • High School Completion age 20 or older (BE)
    • High School Equivalency age 20 or older (GE)
  • Other education:
    • Vocational Education Unapproved ( VU )
    • English as a Second Language (ESL) when stand-alone activity (ES)

7.1.2 When can you add it to an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)?

Education and training can be added to a participant's Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) while on WorkFirst.

Under the new federal definitions, both basic education and ESL fall under the federal category of job skills training directly related to employment (and coded JT ) when a participant is participating in core activities. The participant's employment plan or education and training plan should document that the basic education or ESL is giving the participant skills needed for employment. Stand-alone ESL is coded ES and does not count towards participation.

DSHS staff can decide whether to code ESL as ES or JT based on whether the participant is participating in a core activity. Community and technical colleges will decide which eJAS code to use for all other WorkFirst education and training activities and add that information to the participant's education and training plan.

For more information about Life Skills training, please refer to section 7.3.6 - What is Independent Life Skills Training?

The following chapter sections give information about the approval process, monitoring and policy for each training option.

7.1.3 How to calculate the education and training class and homework hours

To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the participant is in the education and training activities, to include classes, labs, and supervised study halls/tutoring sessions, and up to one hour of unsupervised study time for every scheduled hour of class time. Total homework time counted for participation cannot exceed the hours required or advised by a particular educational program.

Only classes with an expectation of homework may be eligible for unsupervised homework hours. If there is no homework expectation, we cannot claim homework hours.

Normally, we can claim one hour of homework time for each hour of scheduled class time. So, if a participant is scheduled to go to class for 5 hours a week, we can claim 5 hours of homework time a week, even if the participant misses some classes during the month. 

However, if the participant drops out and is referred back to the CSO, we need to do things differently.

If a participant is referred back to the CSO, we can only claim one hour of homework time for each hour they actually attended class for that month.  So, if a participant is scheduled to go to class for 5 hours a week beginning 5/1, attends class for 10 hours between 5/1 and 5/15 then drops out and is referred back to the CSO, we could only claim 10 hours of homework time for the month of May. 

Every WorkFirst partner captures homework hours differently. For example:

  • College staff will use the WorkFirst Calculator Tool to determine the total number of weekly educational hours, including study time. The WorkFirst Calculator Tool is a spreadsheet used by college staff to determine the total number of allowable homework time, and the maximum number of homework hours allowed for the participant. College staff will keep a hard copy of the completed calculator tool in the participant's file.
  • LEP Pathway contractors will use the Educational & Homework Requirements Worksheet (EHRW) to document the scheduled class time and expected homework hours for the ESL class and determine the total number of allowable homework hours. Contractors will keep a copy of the EHRW in the participant's file. (See section 5.2.11 and 5.2.12)
  • Commerce contractors will use the Education & Training Homework Requirements Worksheet to determine the total amount of allowable homework time, and will keep a copy of the sheet in the participant's file.
  • DSHS uses non-contracted provider educational worksheets (see section 7.1.4 below).

For more information and links on how different partners capture and process homework hours, please see the Capturing Homework Hours chart.

Note:  Homework cannot be counted as WorkFirst participation hours for Life Skills training. 

7.1.4 How DSHS calculates non-contracted/non-partner homework hours

DSHS staff will use a shortcut method to pick up most, but not all, countable homework hours from non-contracted, non-partner educational providers. They will:

  • Use the Non-contracted Education and Training IRP Worksheet to:
    • Verify the participant's weekly homework expectation.
    • Determine how many hours to add to the participant's IRP. We will always add scheduled classroom hours to the IRP and other language on the IRP will hold the participant accountable to complete assigned tasks, including homework.
    • Determine each month if the participant's homework expectation is equal to or greater than her or his scheduled class hours. If so, they can double the participant's actual hours of class participation on the eJAS actual hours screen. (See "Examples of Entering Countable hours of Educational Participation (used by DSHS staff)" in the resource section below for more information about how this works).

7.1.5 Step-by-step guide - Non-contracted/non-partner homework hours (DSHS Only)

  1. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Obtains the Non-contracted Education & Training IRP Requirements Worksheet from the educational provider.
    2. Enters the weekly scheduled class hours on the participant's IRP.
    3. Images the form in the DMS system to document the participant's weekly homework expectation.
  2. The non-contracted/non-partner educational provider sends in the WorkFirst Participation Verification form each month to document how many hours the participant attended class.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Reviews the Non-contracted Education & Training IRP Requirements Worksheet to determine whether the participant's weekly homework expectation meets or exceeds the participants scheduled classroom hours.
    2. Documents the results on the Counting Hours of Educational Participation Worksheet.
      1. If the homework expectation is less than the scheduled classroom hours, enter the actual hours from the WorkFirst Participation form onto the eJAS Actual Hours Screen.
      2. If the homework expectation meets or exceeds the scheduled classroom hours, double the actual hours and enter that amount onto the eJAS Actual Hours Screen.
    3. Images the Counting Hours of Educational Participation Worksheet form in the DMS system to document why you did or did not double the actual hours for that month.

7.1.6 What steps do you take when a participant is absent?

Excused Absences

After two excused absences in a calendar month, the WorkFirst partner/provider will:

  • Send an immediate notification to the case manager,
  • Keep the activity open, and
  • Contact the participant and case manager to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the participant back to DSHS.

Unexcused Absences

After two unexcused absences in a calendar month, the WorkFirst partner/provider will:

  • Send an immediate notification to the case manager,
  • Keep the activity open, and
  • Contact the participant and case manager as part of the Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) process to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the participant back to DSHS.

ESD will:

  • Keep the activity open, and
  • Contact the participant and case manager as part of the Continuous Activity Planning (CAP) process to discuss next steps, including if it is appropriate to refer the participant back to DSHS.

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.

For more on how to treat excused and unexcused absences, please refer to section 3.7.1.5.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

7.2 Vocational Education

Created on: 
Jul 24 2017

Revised: September 20, 2021

(Time-limited core)

Legal References:

The Vocational Education section includes:

  • 7.2.1 What is Vocational Education (VE)?
  • 7.2.2 What is Customized Job Skills Training (CJST) - (PE)?
  • 7.2.3 What is Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training - I-BEST - (VE)?
  • 7.2.4 When you can add Vocational Education (VE), Customized Job Skills Training (CJST) – (PE), to an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)?
  • 7.2.5 Vocational Education (VE), Customized Job Skills Training (CJST) – (PE), - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 7.2.6 What participation is required for summer school breaks?
  • 7.2.7 Summer school breaks - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 7.2.8 What is High-Wage, High-Demand (HW) a and Degree Completion (DC) training?
  • 7.2.9 What is the High Wage/High Demand criteria?
  • 7.2.10 Who can provide High Wage/High Demand (HW) and Degree Completion (DC) training?
  • 7.2.11 What are the participation requirements for High Wage/High Demand (HW) and Degree Completion (DC) training?
  • 7.2.12 When can you add High Wage/High Demand (HW) or Degree Completion (DC) training to an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)?
  • 7.2.13 High Wage/High Demand (HW) training - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 7.2.14 Degree Completion (DC) - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

The following sections give information about the requirements and approval process for each of these vocational educational options; Vocational Education (VE), Customized Job Skills Training (PE), High Wage/High Demand (HW) and Degree Completion (DC). There is a cumulative lifetime 12-month limit on vocational education with respect to counting toward federal participation.

There may be instances when basic skills education has been embedded by the college within a vocational educational training activity like Integrated Basic Skills and Training (IBEST) and Customized Job Skills Training (CJST). Such basic skills education may count as vocational educational training as long as it is short-term and is a necessary or regular part of the vocational educational training.

Whenever possible, recommend the participant pursue these vocational education activities on a full-time basis, as there is a lifetime 12-month limit on vocational education with respect to counting toward federal participation. See WFHB 1.2.3 for information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) to the participant’s IRP when possible. In most cases, vocational education meets the strengthened participation requirements, but add an additional three hours core or non-core when feasible.

A participant who previously participated in a vocational educational activity may benefit from additional vocational education.  There is a federal lifetime participation limit of 12-months in a vocational activity however VE, DC and HW activities may be extended to 24 months when the education program meets specific criteria under state law. See section 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

Education and Training Hours

To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the participant is in the education and training activities, to include classes, labs, and supervised study halls/tutoring sessions and up to one hour of unsupervised study time for every scheduled hour of class time. Total homework time counted for participation can’t exceed the hours required or advised by a particular educational program.

For more information on how to calculate education and training hours, please refer to section 7.1.3.

7.2.1 What is Vocational Education (VE)?

Vocational education includes training that leads to a certificate or degree in a specific occupation. Vocational education programs are organized educational programs that directly relate to the preparation of individuals for employment in current or emerging occupations that require training other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree. To count as approvable vocational education for WorkFirst, the training must be provided by a:

  • Public/private technical college or school,
  • Community college,
  • Tribal college, or
  • Community Based Organizations for Customized Job Skills Training (CJST).

Please see section 7.1.5 for a step-by-step guide for non-contracted/non-partner education activities.

As there is a time limit, whenever possible, recommend the participant pursue vocational education activities on a full-time basis to get the most out of the available months. Authorize vocational education as a Core Activity if the parent/caregiver participates in this activity for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Vocational education may be stacked with work or work-like activities if participants need additional activities to meet their participation requirements.

The 12-month lifetime limit of full-time vocational education and high-wage/high-demand activities may extend up to 24 months as long as it meets specific criteria. See section 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

7.2.2 What is Customized Job Skills Training (CJST) - (PE)?

CJST (coded as PE), formerly known as Pre-employment training, is an 8-22 week training program customized for specific employers or tied to a specific industry. CJSTs must include industry-specific technical training, correlate to jobs with good labor market demand, and target fields with better than average entry-level wages for the local area.

CJST is a Core Activity as long as the parent/caregiver participates in this activity for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Participants meeting the Criteria for Decision Making requirements for CJST must be able to begin the CJST within 30 days. During the 30-day or less waiting period, the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS)/WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) should review other available work activities such as Community Service opportunities stacked with non-core activities to meet participation requirements.

CJSTs are reported as vocational education for federal participation requirements.

7.2.3 What is Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) - (VE)?

I-BEST combines vocational skill training with basic skills/English as a Second Language (ESL). It is considered full-time training and must meet full-time standards. Basic Education for Adults (BEdA)/ ESL instructors and professional-technical instructors work together in the classroom to provide participants with literacy education and workforce skills.

A participant who qualifies for BEdA/ESL according to the CASAS appraisal and who wants to learn language or basic skills in the context of a particular vocational skill area would benefit from I-BEST. Approve I-BEST for up to 12 months* or up to 24 months with approval of a vocational education extension when:

  • It is in the participant's comprehensive evaluation or Continuous Activity Planning (CAP), and
  • It is needed to become employed or get a better job.

I-BEST is a vocational education (VE) program and, as such, is a Core Activity if the parent/caregiver participates in this activity for a minimum of 20 hours per week. I-BEST may be stacked with work or work-like activities if additional activities are needed to meet their participation requirements.

I-BEST programs are reported as vocational education (VE) for federal participation requirements.

*Note: The Department increased the 12-month vocational education limit to 24 months for VE, DC and HW activities when the education program meets specific criteria  See section 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

7.2.4 When can you add Vocational Education (VE), or Customized Job Skills Training (CJST) – (PE) to an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)?

Participants in approved education and training qualify for child care assistance and support services once it is added to their IRP. The WFPS/WFSSS may add VE or PE to the IRP when it is indicated as an appropriate activity in the comprehensive evaluation results or the CAP . Each educational program option has its own criteria. Please see "Criteria for Decision Making" .

7.2.5 Vocational Education (VE) or Customized Job Skills Training (CJST) – (PE) - Step-by-Step Guide

If the appropriate Employment Pathway is education and training then:

  1. The participant meets with the WFPS/WFSSS.
  2. After completing the Comprehensive Evaluation (CE), the WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the training request appears to be appropriate*
    2. Discusses the Education and Training employment pathway and refers to the college using the RA code
    3. Updates the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)
    4. Explains participation requirements until the college approves referral
  3. College staff:
    1. Within the first seven days of referral:
      1. Attempts contact with the customer
      2. Accepts or rejects the referral
      3. Determines whether to approve VE or PE (if accepted)
      4. Documents reason for accept/reject and referral to appropriate program
    2. Creates a training plan.
    3. Uses the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, to determine the participant’s total number of participation hours per week (including scheduled class time, unsupervised homework time, any scheduled supervised homework time, and the maximum number of allowable education hours).
    4. Updates the Education & Training Worksheet to include the:
      1. Totals identified by the WorkFirst Calculator Tool or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet,
      2. Participant's approval status,
      3. Appropriate component,
      4. Anticipated start and end date of the activity, and
      5. Participant’s total number of participation hours per week.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice that the individual is approved for VE or PE education program from the College staff.
    2. Enters eJAS component code ( PE or VE ) with the three digit contractor code,
    3. Updates participant's IRP, and
    4. Documents action taken in eJAS.
  5. College staff work with all participants in approved training as follows:
    1. Supervision: Daily supervision is required and may be provided by faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and supervisors of work-based learning activities. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is making progress towards meeting educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation:
      1. Documents attendance records every two weeks and maintain them in the provider's participant files.
      2. Provides this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
      3. Keeps a copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours in the participant's file.
    3. Reporting:
      1. Uses eJAS, to report participation to the WFPS/WFSSS on a monthly basis,
      2. Immediately notifies the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant isn’t maintaining satisfactory progress, fails to participate as required, or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.6 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    4. Verification: Provides information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.
    5. Assists the participant with employment.
  6. The WFPS/WFSSS refers the participant to employment services activities if not employed upon completion of the training.

* If the employment plan recommendation or continuous activity planning isn’t appropriate, refer to Chapter 3, section 3.2 Comprehensive Evaluation. 

7.2.6 What Participation is Required During Summer School Breaks?

Participants are required to engage in approved WorkFirst activities during summer school break. This may include other education and training, job preparation, or paid or unpaid work activities. Colleges provide many of these additional activities.

7.2.7 Summer School Breaks - Step-by-Step Guide

For participants who enroll in job preparation activities by the college during the summer break (i.e. Life Skills training):

College staff:

  1. Updates the Education and Training Worksheet in eJAS with the following information:
    1. What activity the participant will be engaged in during the summer break
    2. The dates of the activities
    3. The component code to be used for the participant's activity

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Reviews the Education and Training Worksheet
  2. Updates the component code per college staff recommendation
  3. Adjusts the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) dates without changing the IRP template, as needed
  4. Sets an alert/reminder to update the component for fall quarter, as needed.

If participants are:

  • Doing activities on their own during the summer,
  • Unable to be placed in activities for the summer by the college, or
  • Working with a different contractor during the summer break;
  1. College staff:
    1. Refers the participant back to DSHS
    2. Updates eJAS notes with why the participant is being referred back and whether the participant is enrolled in school for fall quarter
  2. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Makes contact with the participant and discuss the appropriate activity for the participant during the summer break
    2. Updates the component and IRP for the appropriate activity
    3. Sets an alert/reminder to refer the participant back to the college in the fall

Participants continuing to participate in vocational education activities during the summer break can remain in a VE component with no change to the IRP.

For participants who start employment during the summer break or increase their work hours, the WFPS/WFSSS reviews the participant's employment and updates the component and IRP as appropriate.

7.2.8 What is High-Wage, High-Demand (HW) and Degree Completion (DC) training?

High-Wage, High-Demand training – (eJAS components HW and DC) refers to vocational training programs that meet both a minimum wage and a labor market demand threshold as outlined in the High Wage, High Demand Criteria, results in a vocational certificate or degree, and can be completed within a total of 12 months*.

The rules for both types of training (High-Wage/High-Demand and Degree Completion) are basically the same and described in WAC 388-310-1000(4), but the approval processes differ. Both are full-time training options for TANF recipients:

  1. High-wage, High-demand (HW) training (called Information Technology, Healthcare or Other Professional-Technical Programs in WAC): Allows participants  to start and finish a one-year or shorter state community or technical college training program in the information technology, health care fields or other professional-technical programs that meet High Wage/ High Demand criteria. It may include training from other educational institutions approved on a case-by-case basis by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

  2. Certificate/Degree Completion (DC): Allows individuals to finish the last year of any certificate or degree program, not to exceed a baccalaureate degree, in a high-wage/high-demand field on an exception basis. The high-wage/high-demand criteria is based on median income and high-demand occupations within the local labor market as determined by Employment Security Department. It can include training from state community and technical colleges, or other educational institutions, approved on a case-by-case basis by SBCTC.
*Note: The department increased the 12-month vocational education limit to 24 months for VE, DC and HW activities when the education program meets specific criteria. See section 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

7.2.9 What is the High Wage/High Demand Criteria?

For both High-Wage, High Demand (HW) and Degree Completion (DC), the program must be in a High Wage, High Demand field as defined below.

  1. High-Wage: The field of study must lead to an occupation that offers a wage equal to or greater than the local labor market’s hourly median wage as determined by the Employment Security Department. Use Workforce Explorer to determine the hourly median wage for each local area in Washington.
  2. High-Demand: The job must be listed as ‘Demand’ on the demand list for the county the participant resides according to Workforce Explorer. State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) must approve High Wage/High Demand programs. When programs haven’t been through the SBCTC approval process, follow the steps in 7.2.13.

If the above information isn’t available for the program but local staff believe the program meets the high wage and high demand criteria, staff should compile demand and wage information for which access is available.

7.2.10 Who can provide High Wage/High Demand (HW) and Degree Completion (DC) training?

Institutions authorized to provide HW and DC training may include:

  • Community and technical colleges,
  • Tribal colleges,
  • For DC only, public colleges or universities with degree-granting authority, and
  • Private, for-profit or non-profit, nonsectarian educational institutions offering programs beyond the secondary level and registered with the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, or meet the legal requirements for exemption.

7.2.11 What are the participation requirements for High Wage/High Demand (HW) and Degree Completion (DC) training?

For federal participation reporting purposes, HW and DC training is reported as a core activity and counts toward the 12-month lifetime limit* for Vocational Education. It should be as full-time as possible and can include both supervised and unsupervised homework time.

If a participant is participating in HW or DC less than full time, the WFPS/WFSSS must stack appropriate activities to bring the participant to full time participation.

To be approved, HW and DC training must start by the beginning of the next school quarter. During the waiting period, the WFPS/WFSSS should review other available work activities, such as Work Experience opportunities, stacked with non-core activities to meet participation requirements.

If a participant needs to wait longer for the classes to begin, s/he must go directly to, or remain in, another activity according to their comprehensive evaluation or continuous activity planning (CAP).

*Note: The department increased the 12-month vocational education limit to 24 months for VE, WH and DC activities when the education program meets specific criteria. See section 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

7.2.12 When can you add High Wage/High Demand (HW) or Degree Completion (DC) training to an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)?

The WFPS/WFSSS may add HW or DC training when it is indicated as an appropriate activity in the comprehensive evaluation results or the CAP. Each educational program option has its own criteria. Please see "Criteria for Decision Making". Each specific vocational certificate and degree program must also be approved. Please see the approval processes below for HW and DC.

HW and DC can be approved one-time only, barring an approved exception to policy. There is no work requirement during the training period. Participants must also:

  • Be able to start by the beginning of the next school quarter;
  • Meet all of the pre-requisites for the program or be able to complete the pre-requisites and all course work within the allotted time period;
  • Obtain the certificate or degree within 12 calendar months;
  • Participate as full-time as possible in the training program and make satisfactory progress;
  • Work with ESD staff as needed during the last quarter of training for job placement; and
  • Return to Career Scope (job search) upon completion of the educational program if still unemployed.

Participants in approved education and training qualify for childcare assistance and support services once it is added to their IRP.

7.2.13 High Wage/High Demand (HW) training - Step-by-Step guide

HW Community and Technical Colleges Step-by-Step

  1. The participant meets with the WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the High Wage/High Demand training request appears to be appropriate* according to the participant's comprehensive evaluation or CAP recommendations.
    2. Refers appropriate requests to the college using the RA code, and creates the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP).
  2. The College staff:
    1. Attempts contact with the referred customer, accept or reject training referral, and document the decision within seven days.
    2. Verifies that the certificate or degree program is registered with the SBCTC as High Wage/High Demand Training. Sends an email request to SBCTC providing median wage and demand information demonstrating the program meets the High Wage/High Demand criteria noted in 7.2.9 when the training program isn’t listed. Send the email to korellana@sbctc.edu (use secure email if sending participant information). If the program is not considered High Wage/High Demand, refer to section 7.2.4 to determine if it meets the Vocational Education criteria.
    3. Develops the Education and Training Worksheet.
    4. Uses the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, to determine the participant’s total number of participation hours per week (including scheduled class time, unsupervised homework time, any scheduled supervised homework time, and the maximum number of allowable education hours).
    5. Updates the Education & Training Worksheet to include the:
    6. Sends notification via an eJAS e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice that the participant is approved from the college staff.
    2. Closes the RA component code in eJAS.
    3. Enters the HW component code into eJAS with the three-digit contractor code.
    4. Updates the participant's IRP.
    5. Reviews and monitors progress entered by the college staff quarterly into the Education and Training Worksheet under Progress Notes.
  4. The College staff works with all participants in approved HW Training as follows:
    1. Supervision: Daily supervision is required and may be provided by faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and supervisors of work-based learning activities. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is making progress towards meeting educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation:
      • Documents attendance records every two weeks and maintain them in the provider's participant files.
      • Provides this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
      • Keeps a copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet, or approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours in the participant's file.
    3. Reporting:
    • Uses eJAS, to report participation to the WFPS/WFSSS monthly,
    • Immediately notifies the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant isn’t maintaining satisfactory progress, fails to participate as required, or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.6 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    1. Verification: Provide information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts. 
      1. Assists the participants with employment.
    2. The WFPS/WFSSS refers the participant to employment services activities if they aren’t employed upon completion of the training.

* If the employment plan recommendation or CAP isn’t appropriate, refer to Chapter 3, section 3.2-Comprehensive Evaluation.

HW Other Institutions - Step-by-Step

  1. The participant meets with the WFPS/WFSSS.
  2. After completing the comprehensive evaluation, the WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the HW training request appears to be appropriate* according to the participant's comprehensive evaluation or CAP recommendations.
    2. Screens the training program for your local labor market to determine if the degree is likely to lead directly to a high wage, high demand job, using the High Wage/High Demand Training Criteria.
    3. Completes the WorkFirst HW/DC Request form and sends viable requests to the SBCTC following the submission process identified on the form.
  3. The SBCTC makes a decision and notifies the WFPS/WFSSS.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives SBCTC approval for the participant.
    2. Enters the HW component code into eJAS with the three-digit contractor code.
    3. Reviews training program to ensure the participant's required participation can be met through training activity.
    4. Works with participant to identify other work or work-like activities to meet participation requirements, if needed.
    5. Updates the participant's IRP.
    6. Reports monthly participation in eJAS using the WorkFirst participation verification form completed by instructor.
    7. Closes the HW code and creates an updated IRP if the participant isn’t making satisfactory progress.
  5. The WFPS/WFSSS refers the participant to employment services activities if they aren’t employed upon completion of the training.

* If the employment plan recommendation or CAP isn’t appropriate, refer to Chapter 3, section 3.2-Comprehensive Evaluation.

7.2.14 Degree Completion (DC) - Step-by-Step guide

DC Community and Technical Colleges Step-by-Step

 
  1. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the DC training request appears to be appropriate* according to the participant's comprehensive evaluation or CAP recommendations.
    2. Refers appropriate requests to the college using the RA code, and creates the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP).
    3. Informs the parent to bring her/his college transcript and a completed WorkFirst Degree Completion Request Form to the meeting with the College staff.
  2. The College staff:
    1. Attempts contact with the referred customer, accept or reject training referral, and document the decision within seven days.
    2. Screens the training program for your local labor market to determine if the degree is likely to lead directly to a high wage, high demand job, using the High Wage/High Demand Training Criteria.
    3. Completes the WorkFirst Degree Completion Request Form following the submission process identified on the form. SBCTC makes a decision within two business days and notifies the college staff.
    4. If approved by SBCTC, develops the Education and Training Worksheet.
    5. Uses the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, to determine the participant’s total number of participation hours per week (including scheduled class time, unsupervised homework time, any scheduled supervised homework time, and the maximum number of allowable education hours).
    6. Updates the Education & Training Worksheet to include the:
    7.  Sends notification via an eJAS e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice that the participant is approved from the College staff.
    2. Closes the RA component codes in eJAS.
    3. Enters the DC training component code into eJAS with the three-digit contractor code.
    4. Updates the participant's IRP.
    5. Reviews and monitors progress entered by the College staff quarterly into the Education and Training Worksheet under Progress Notes.
  4. The College staff work with all participants in approved DC as follows:
    1. Supervision: Daily supervision is required and may be provided by faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and supervisors of work-based learning activities. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is making progress towards meeting educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation:
      • Documents attendance records every two weeks and maintain them in the provider's participant files.
      • Provides this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
      • Keeps a copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours in the participant's file.
    3. Reporting:
      • Uses eJAS to report participation to the WFPS/WFSSS monthly,
      • Immediately notifies the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant isn’t maintaining satisfactory progress, fails to participate as required, or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.6 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    4. Verification: Provides information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.
    5. Assists the participants with employment.
  5. The WFPS/WFSSS refers the participant to employment services activities if they aren’t employed upon completion of the training.

* If the employment plan recommendation or CAP isn’t appropriate, refer to Chapter 3, section 3.2 - Comprehensive Evaluation.

DC Other Institutions - Step-by-Step

  1. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines if the DC training request appears to be appropriate* according to the participant's comprehensive evaluation or CAP recommendations.
    2. Screens the training program for your local labor market to determine if the degree is likely to lead directly to a high wage, high demand job, using the High Wage/High Demand Training Criteria.
    3. Completes the WorkFirst HW/DC Request form and sends viable requests to the SBCTC following the submission process identified on the form.
  2. The SBCTC makes a decision within two business days and notifies the WFPS/WFSSS.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives SBCTC approval for the participant.
    2. Enters the DC component code into eJAS with the three-digit contractor code.
    3. Reviews training program to ensure the participant's required participation can be met through training activity.
    4. Works with participant to identify other work or work-like activities to meet participation requirement.
    5. Updates the participant's IRP.
    6. Reports monthly participation in eJAS using the WorkFirst Participation Verification form completed by instructor.
    7. Closes the DC code and creates an updated IRP if the participant isn’t making satisfactory progress.
    8. Upon completion of the DC program, refers the participant to employment services activities if not employed.

* If the employment plan recommendation or CAP isn’t appropriate, refer to Chapter 3, section 3.2 - Comprehensive Evaluation.

7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

The 12-month lifetime limit of full-time vocational education (VE) degree completion (DC) and high-wage/high-demand (HW) activities may extend up to 24 months.

Although participation beyond 12-months will not count toward the federal work participation rate, this opportunity allows additional support to families through their education pathway. WFPS should continue referrals to work or work-like activities in addition to education as appropriate if it helps participants expand their work skills while obtaining a certificate. 

College staff review referrals for vocational education beyond 12-months to ensure the participant meets the extension criteria outlined in SBCTC WorkFirst Delivery Agreement,  Vocational Education Extension Policy.  To qualify for the vocational education extension the participant must be one of the following:

  • Currently enrolled and continuing a single vocational program (not transferring to a new program of study)
  • Returning after a gap in education and continuing toward an uncompleted degree or certificate (not transferring to a new program of study)

Once college staff determine a participant’s eligibility for the extension, they include the following information in the Education and Training Worksheet and Client Notes in eJAS:

  • A statement of the extension,
  • Vocational program of study,
  • Expected quarter of completion.   

WFPS/WFSSS determine if extension criteria is met when the participant is enrolled in an education program at an institution other than a Washington State community or technical college. 

To qualify for the vocational education extension, the participant must be able to complete their program of study within 24 months and meet one of the following:

  • Currently enrolled and continuing a single vocational program (not transferring to a new program of study); or
  • Returning after a gap in education and continuing toward an uncompleted degree or certificate (not transferring to a new program of study).

The WFPS/WFSSS documents in eJAS under Literacy/Learning note type:

  • The participant's eligibility
  • Vocational program of study
  • Expected quarter of completion

 


 

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

7.3 Basic Education, Skills Enhancement, High School Completion & High School Equivalency

Revised September 20, 2021 

Legal References:

The Basic Education, Skills Enhancement, High School Completion & High School Equivalency section includes:

  • 7.3.1 What is High School Completion and High School Equivalency?
  • 7.3.2 High School Completion and High School Equivalency - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 7.3.3 What is Basic Education and Skills Enhancement Training?
  • 7.3.4 Basic Education and Skills Enhancement Training - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 7.3.5 What is Life Skills Training?
  • 7.3.6 What is Independent Life Skills Training?
  • 7.3.7 What is Life Skills Training as part of other Job Preparation activities?
  • 7.3.8 What is Seasonal Worker Training?
  • 7.3.9 When can you add seasonal worker training to the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)?
  • 7.3.10 Full-time training for seasonal workers - Step-by-Step Guide
  • 7.3.11 English as a Second Language (ESL)

The WorkFirst program offers education and training opportunities in addition to vocational education to prepare participants for employment. See the Stacking Activities section for more information about stacking education and skill-building activities with core activities to help participants gain necessary proficiencies and meet their participation requirements.

Education and Training Hours

To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the participant is in education and training activities, including classes, labs, supervised study halls/tutoring sessions, and up to one hour of unsupervised study time for every scheduled hour of class time. Total homework time counted for participation can’t exceed the hours required or advised by an educational program.

For more information on how to calculate education and training hours, please refer to section 7.1.3.

7.3.1 What is High School Completion and High School Equivalency?

These activities and codes include:

  • High School Equivalency classes - Classes that help participants earn a high school equivalency certificate by passing a series of proficiency tests.

    • (HS) : High School Equivalency classes for participants 19 years of age or younger
    • (GE): High School Equivalency classes for participants 20 years of age or older
  • High School Completion - Educational course work preparing a participant to earn a high school diploma.

    • (HS) : High School Completion for participants 19 years of age or younger
    • (BE) : High School Completion, including High School 21, for participants 20 years of age or older

7.3.2 High School Completion and High School Equivalency - Step-by-Step Guide

Community and Technical Colleges - Step-by-Step

  1. The participant meets with the WFPS/WFSSS.
  2. Based on the comprehensive evaluation, assessment and other meetings such as Continuous Activity Planning (CAP), the WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Determines with the participant if education and training options are likely appropriate using the Stacking Activity Chart.
    2. Creates the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP).
    3. Uses the RA code if education activity is through a contracted College partner.
  3. The College staff:
    1. Attempt contact with the referred participant, accept or reject training referral, and document the decision within seven calendar days.
    2. Develop the Education and Training Worksheet, and include how the activity increases the participant’s skills needed for employment.
    3. Use the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, to determine the participant’s total number of participation hours per week (including scheduled class time, unsupervised homework time, scheduled supervised homework time, and the maximum number of allowable education hours).
    4. Update the Education & Training Worksheet including the:
    • Totals identified by the WorkFirst Calculator Tool or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet,
    • Participant's approval status,
    • Appropriate component,
    • Anticipated start and end date of the activity, and
    • Participant’s total number of participation hours per week. Send notification via an eJAS e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS.
    1. Send notification via an eJAS e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice of the participant’s approval for High School Equivalency or High School Completion from the college WorkFirst staff.
    2. Enters the BEGE, or HS eJAS component code with the three digit contractor code.
    3. Stacks BE or GE components with a core activity for participants 20 years of age or older.
    4. Updates participant’s IRP.
    5. On a quarterly basis, reviews and monitors progress entered by the college staff into the Education and Training Worksheet under Progress Notes.
Note: Participants 19 years of age or younger: HS (High School Completion or Equivalency) meets their core activity.**
  1. The College staff works with all participants in approved training as follows:

    1. Supervision:
      1. Faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and work-based learning supervisors may provide required daily supervision. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is making progress towards meeting educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation:
      1. Document attendance records every two weeks and maintain them in the provider's participant files.
      2. Provide this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
      3. Keep a copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet, or approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours in the participant's file.
    3. Reporting:
      1. Use eJAS to report participation monthly to the WFPS/WFSSS,
      2. Immediately notify the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant isn’t maintaining satisfactory progress, fails to participate as required, or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.6 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    4. Verification:
      1. Provide information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.

Other High School Completion or Equivalency Providers – Step-by-Step

  1. The participant meets with the WFPS/WFSSS.

  2. Based on the comprehensive evaluation, assessment and other meetings such as Continuous Activity Planning (CAP), the WFPS/WFSSS:

    1. Determines with the participant if education and training options are likely appropriate using the Stacking Activity Chart.

    2. Creates the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP).

    3. Uses the HS, BE, or GE code and assign to the appropriate contractor code. If the activity is through a non-contracted provider, assign the component to yourself or the contractor that requested the activity for the participant.

Note: If the component is coded to the WFPS/WFSSS, follow reporting requirements outlined in 3.7.2.6 What are Non-contracted service requirements.
Note: If the component is coded to a non-SBCTC provider, follow reporting requirements outlined in 3.7.2.5 What are Contracted service requirements?

7.3.3 What is Basic Education & Skills Enhancement training?

Basic Education increases a participant's basic skills competencies and ability to find work, to include English as a Second Language (ESL). Basic Education gives participants skills needed for employment, such as the ability to understand English, read, write and do basic math. To count Basic Education towards participation, WorkFirst partners must:

  • Document the participant is obtaining skills needed for employment in their education and training plan or LEP Pathway employment plan.
  • Stack the basic education or ESL with a core activity.
  • Code the hours of instruction under the JT eJAS component code so they fall under the correct category in the WorkFirst federal reports.
Note: Basic Education isn’t an approved full-time activity. However, ESL may be an approved full-time activity until the participant’s English proficiency is sufficient to participate in core activities. Use the ES eJAS component code for ESL not stacked with a core activity.

See Section 5.2, Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Pathway for additional information about requirements and coding for ESL instruction.

Skills Enhancement training (called job skills training in WAC 388-310-1050) is training that enhances a participant’s employability by providing specific skills that are marketable to employers. It can include:

  • Training to enhance job skills classes, such as computer/keyboarding, to learn software applications, CPR/basic first aid training, or flagger training.
  • Literacy or language instruction when it explicitly focuses on skills needed for employment or combined with job training.
  • Developmental education or prerequisites required for a vocational certificate.
  • Any education and training required by an employer to provide a participant with the ability to obtain employment, or to advance or adapt to the changing demands of the workplace including part-time vocational education classes.

The following may provide Skills Enhancement training:

  • Public/private community and technical colleges,
  • WorkFirst partners,
  • Tribal governments,
  • Community based organizations, or
  • Businesses.

You can add Skills Enhancement training to a participant's IRP when they:

  • Qualify as a seasonal worker;
  • Meet the WorkFirst work requirements;
  • Are fully participating in job preparation or other employment services (short-term only) and the training enhances their employability.
  • Need non-core activities to meet participation requirements.

Training institutions measure Skills Enhancement training by credits or credit hours. Some courses last less than one day while others take several weeks. The WorkFirst Program Specialist/WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFPS/WFSSS) estimates the scheduled hours of participation based on the instructor's feedback or education plan and enters the amount in the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP). When the participant is attending a community or technical college, up to one hour of unsupervised study time may count for every scheduled hour of class time. Total homework time counted for participation can’t exceed the hours required or advised by an educational program.

Use the following eJAS codes for participants in basic education or skills enhancement training:

  • JT - Skills Enhancement Training
  • RA -Referral to Community/Technical college

7.3.4 Basic Education & Skills Enhancement Training - Step-by-Step Guide

  1. The participant meets with the WFPS/WFSSS.
  2. Determines with the participant if an education and training request appears to be appropriate* according to the participant’s comprehensive evaluation, assessment, Continuous Activity Planning recommendations, or the stacking activity chart.
    1. When combining Basic Education or Skills Enhancement training with Career Scope activities:
      1. Chooses the Job Search and Education and Training employment pathways and refers the participant to ESD and the training institution or service provider, using the RI and RA referral codes,
      2. Monitors the IRP and activities, and
      3. Once approved, updates the IRP and eJAS component codes to reflect Career Scope services and skills enhancement training.
    2. When combining Basic Education or Skills Enhancement training with other core activities:
      1. Chooses the Education and Training and core activity pathways and refers the participant to the service provider using the RA referral code;
      2. Updates the IRP to include skills enhancement training;
      3. Opens the JT and core activity components; and
      4. Monitors the IRP and activity.
  3. The College staff:
    1. Attempt contact with the referred participant, accept or reject training referral, and document the decision within seven calendar days.
    2. Develop the Education and Training Worksheet, and includes how the activity increases the participant’s skills needed for employment.
    3. Use the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, to determine the participant’s total number of participation hours per week (including scheduled class time, unsupervised homework time, scheduled supervised homework time, and the maximum number of allowable education hours).
    4. Update the Education & Training Worksheet including the:
    5. Send notification via an eJAS e-message to the WFPS/WFSSS.
  4. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice of the participant’s approval for Basic Education or Skills Enhancement Training from the college WorkFirst personnel.
    2. Enters the JT eJAS component code with the three-digit contractor code.
    3. Updates the participant’s IRP; review and monitor progress entered by the college staff quarterly into the Education and Training Worksheet under Progress Notes.
  5. The College staff works with all participants in approved training as follows:
    1. Supervision:
      1. Faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and work-based learning supervisors may provide required daily supervision. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is making progress towards meeting educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation:
      1. Document attendance records every two weeks and maintain them in the participant’s file.
      2. Provide this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
      3. Keep a copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet, or approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours in the participant's file.
    3. Reporting:
      1. Use eJAS, to report participation monthly to the WFPS/WFSSS.
      2. Immediately notify the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant isn’t maintaining satisfactory progress, fails to participate as required, or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.6 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    4. Verification:
      1. Provide information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.

7.3.5 What is Life Skills Training?

Life skills training prepares participants to meet the demands of everyday life and employment. Programs are locally designed and operated to maximize available resources to best serve the participants within the community.

Life skills training can:

  • Be independent from Job Search
  • Stack with other Job Preparation/Job Search activities

Life skills training may include topics such as:

  • Self-awareness
  • Attitude
  • Balancing work and personal life
  • Money management
  • Stress and anger management
  • Time management
  • Communication skills
  • Appropriate standards for dress and participation

7.3.6 What is Independent Life Skills Training?

Life Skills/Soft Skills training prepares participants to meet the demands of everyday life and employment. It may be employment related and an up-front introduction that helps prepare them to participate in activities effectively. It doesn’t completely address and resolve family issues.

For federal reporting, Life Skills is a time-limited core activity in the same category as job search/job preparation. This activity can be used by itself or stacked with other activities in order to reach full time participation.

Note:  Homework can’t count as WorkFirst participation hours for Life Skills training. 

Code Independent Life Skills training as "LS" on the eJAS component screen.

  • For participants in Job Search activities through ESD, Commerce, or ORIA, incorporate Life Skills training as part of their JS component. Don’t code the LS trainings separately from the JS component for these cases. 

Refer to section 4.1.6 What is Life Skills training as part of Career Scope activities? for more on Life Skills training as it pertains to job search and refer to section 7.3.7 for Life Skills training as part of other job preparation activities.

Strategy for Success: An independent life skills offered by Employment Security Department (ESD) – Step-by-Step Guide
  1. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Meets with the participant:
      1. Reviews the Strategies for Success (SFS) curriculum and determines which workshops the participant would benefit from.
      2. Refer the participant to Employment Security using the SW(Strategies for Success) component code.
    2. Adds the LS component (see 7.3.6 What is Independent Life Skills Training?)
      1. Start date is the date you meet with the participant
      2. Code 20 hours
      3. End date: last date of the participant’s scheduled workshop/s
      4. Adds the SFS contractor code and populates the IRP
    3. Adds the SW component
      1. Start date is the date you meet with the participant
      2. Code 0 hours
      3. End date: last date of the participant’s scheduled workshop/s
  2. The Strategies for Success instructor provides:
    1. Supervision: Required daily supervision
    2. Documentation:
      1. Documents attendance records every week and maintain them in the provider's participant files.
      2. Provides this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
    3. Reporting:
      1. Uses eJAS, to report participation to the WFPS/WFSSS on a weekly basis.
      2. Immediately notifies the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant isn’t maintaining satisfactory progress, or fails to participate as required (See section 3.7.2.8 Monitoring Participation for monitoring and reporting).
    4. Verification:
      1. Provides information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.

7.3.7 What is Life Skills Training as Part of Other Job Preparation Activities?

Don’t separately code life skills/soft skills training embedded in other Job Preparation activities. It is coded and federally reported as part of these activities:

  • Family Violence
  • Mental Health
  • Chemical Dependency Treatment

7.3.8 What is Seasonal Worker Training?

WorkFirst allows seasonally employed workers the opportunity to meet their WorkFirst requirements by working during the peak season and pursuing full time training in the off season. Other training or education, including basic education such as Adult Basic Education (ABE), GED, or English as a Second Language (ESL), may be appropriate in combination with vocational training, depending on the needs of the participant.

Seasonal employment reflects a consistent pattern of employment and unemployment, characterized by regular, periodic (seasonal) layoffs. Employment Security Department (ESD) staff determine the seasonal worker status based on the participant’s normal pattern of employment.

The seasonal worker training is for individuals who:

  • Work full-time, as defined by industry standards, during the peak season;
  • Need additional job skills to find more stable employment; and
  • Establish a recurring cycle of seasonal employment/unemployment as their normal way of life.

7.3.9 When can you add seasonal worker training to the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP)?

Include seasonal worker training in the participant’s IRP when Employment Security Department determines the participant is a seasonal worker and the community and technical colleges approve the training.

WFPS/WFSSSs and employment counselors develop IRPs and Success Plans that maximize opportunities for wage progression once they determine approval of training. Community and Technical Colleges design individualized training plans and WorkFirst Financial Aid to pay for the training.

Community and Technical College staff monitor the seasonal worker training according to the type of training added to the IRP. For example, if the training is vocational education, then the WFPS and college staff track participation and monitor progress according to the policy around vocational education. This also applies to determining the actual hours of time for the activity.

eJAS codes

  • RA (Referral to non-CJST or HWHD training)
  • VE (Vocational Training)
  • PE (Customized Job Skills Training)
  • ES (English as a Second Language)
  • HS ( High school completion or High school equivalency for participants 19 years of age or younger)
  • BE ( High school completion, including High School 21, for participants 20 years of age or older)
  • GE (High school equivalency training for participants 20 years of age or older)

7.3.10 Full-time training for seasonal workers - Step-by-Step Guide

  1. The WFPS/WFSSS refers the participant to job search.
  2. The Career Scope Coach:
    1. Determines seasonal worker status and informs the participant of seasonal worker training options if they meet season work status;
    2. Develops the success plan to include seasonal worker training; and
    3. Refers seasonal workers who request training to the WFPS/WFSSS.
    4. Closes the JS code.
  3. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice recommending the participant for seasonal worker training.
    2. Determines if an education and training request appears to be appropriate according to the participant's comprehensive evaluation, Continuous Activity Planning recommendations or the stacking activity chart.
    3. Refers appropriate requests to the college using the RA code and create the participant's Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP).
  4. College staff:
    1. Completes the following within the first seven calendar days of referral:
      1. Attempt contact with the participant;
      2. Accept or reject the referral;
      3. Determine whether to approve VE or PE (if accepted); and
      4. Document reason for accept/reject and referral to appropriate program.
    2. Create a training plan.
    3. Use the WorkFirst Calculator Tool, or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, to determine the participant’s total number of participation hours per week (including scheduled class time, unsupervised homework time, scheduled supervised homework time, and the maximum number of allowable education hours).
    4. Update the Education & Training Worksheet including the:
      1. Totals identified by the WorkFirst Calculator Tool or the approved Weekly Attendance Sheet,
      2. Participant's approval status,
      3. Appropriate component,
      4. Anticipated start and end date of the activity, and
      5. Participant’s total number of participation hours per week.
  5. The WFPS/WFSSS:
    1. Receives notice of approval for full-time education as a seasonal worker for the participant.
      1. Enters appropriate eJAS component code (VE , PE , HWDCJTGE, BE or HS ) with the three-digit contractor code,
      2. Updates the IRP, and
      3. Documents action taken in eJAS.
    2. Refer the participant back to job search using the JS code if denied from seasonal worker training.
  6. The College staff works with all participants in approved training as follows:
    1. Supervision: Faculty, instructors, instructional aides, lab supervisors, study hall supervisors, and work-based learning supervisors may provide required daily supervision of work-based learning activities. College program designees also provide additional monthly supervision to ensure the participant is making progress towards meeting educational and employment goals.
    2. Documentation:
      1. Document attendance records every two weeks and maintain them in the provider's participant files.
      2. Keep a copy of the WorkFirst Calculator sheet, or approved Weekly Attendance Sheet, listing the maximum number of weekly participation hours in the participant's file.
      3. Provide this information in a State-approved format, such as individual timesheets signed by the participant and faculty member, supervisor, or other appropriate individual or document in electronic tracking systems, as appropriate.
    3. Reporting:
      1. Use eJAS, to report participation monthly to the WFPS/WFSSS,
      2. Immediately notify the WFPS/WFSSS if the participant isn’t maintaining satisfactory progress, fails to participate as required, or has two excused or unexcused absences in a calendar month. Please refer to section 7.1.6 What steps do you take when a parent is absent?
    4. Verification:
      1. Provide information, documentation, and records as requested to support State Work Verification efforts.

7.3.11 English as a Second Language (ESL)

The LEP Pathway section describes when to approve ESL and other training for limited-English proficient participants.  Refer to the LEP Pathway section when the participant can’t participate in core activities until their English proficiency improves. 

Basic education, skills enhancement training (JT), or high school completion/high school equivalency (HS/GE/BE) may include ESL training as part of their activities.  

 

* If the employment plan recommendation or CAP is not appropriate, refer to Chapter 3.2.

** For Dependent Teens/Teen Parents, and Pregnant and Parenting Minors, refer to Chapter 1.2.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Other Resources

ACES Upload Field: 

7.4 Other Education

Legal References:

The Other Education & Degree completion section includes:

  • 7.4.1 What is Vocational Education Unapproved?
  • 7.4.2 Vocational Education Unapproved- Step-by-Step Guide

There are other education and training activities available to WorkFirst parents. Each parent is unique and has strengths and abilities. As we work with parents to develop a plan to reach sustainable self-sufficiency, it is important that we match the best education activity with that individual parent's needs. The education and training activities in this section, however, may not count toward our federal participation rate.

7.4.1 What is Vocational Education Unapproved (VU)?

Parents may pursue educational activities on their own, such as academic transfer programs, and still meet the Washington State WorkFirst program participation requirements as long as they combine it with employment of a minimum of 20 hours per week, 16-19 hours per week work study, or an approved internship/practicum (see Internship/Practicum for details).

When parents let you know that they have signed themselves up for educational or training classes on their own:

  • Determine if they are meeting the work requirement; and,
  • Consult with the college WorkFirst Coordinator or educational institution to find out whether the educational courses can be counted towards participation.

The college's WorkFirst Coordinator can help determine which eJAS component code to enter into eJAS. If the education is countable, the parent will qualify for child care assistance and support services. If the education isn't countable, you will be instructed to use the VU code. If the parent refuses to provide the information you need to determine whether the education is countable, code the education or training as VU.

The VU code in eJAS will let you know that the education portion of the parent's IRP doesn't count toward federal participation and doesn't qualify for  support services.

7.4.2 Vocational Education Unapproved- Step-by-step guide

The WFPS/WFSSS:

  1. Determines if the parent is meeting the minimum work requirement of 20 hours per week employment, 16-19 hours per week work study or is in an approved internship/practicum.
  2. Consults with the college WorkFirst Coordinator or Director or the educational institution to determine whether the educational activity is countable (and, if so, under which eJAS component code).
  3. Updates the parent's IRP to reflect the appropriate eJAS component code
  4. Documents the action in eJAS.
  5. Monitors the parent's progress closely
  6. Updates the IRP as required

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

7.5 Internships and Practicums

(fully countable core)

Legal References:

The Internships and Practicums section includes:

  • 7.5.1 What are internships and practicums?
  • 7.5.2 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Requirements
  • 7.5.3 Industrial Insurance Coverage
  • 7.5.4 When can you add it to an IRP?
  • 7.5.5 eJAS Codes
  • 7.5.6 Internships and Practicums - Step-by-step guide

7.5.1 What are internships and practicums?

Internships and practicums are supervised practical training at a workplace that is required to complete an educational program. Internships and practicums are unpaid work experiences.

An example of in internship is the student teaching requirement that a student must conduct in order to obtain a teaching certificate. Another example is the practical work experience a nursing student obtains as part of the requirement to complete the course of training. WorkFirst categorizes unpaid internships and practicums as work experience (WEX).

There are some types of internships and practicums that can be used to meet an individual's work requirement for up to 12 months. To qualify, the internship or practicum must be required to complete a course of vocational training that will result in a license or certificate in a high-demand field or determined to enhance the parent's training and future employability.

7.5.2 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Requirements

According to state and federal law, parents cannot be required to engage in unpaid work for more hours than their monthly grant amount plus their monthly food stamp amount divided by the federal, state, or local minimum wage, whichever is higher. College WorkFirst personnel will coordinate with the WFPS/WFSSS to ensure that the number of hours a parent is scheduled to participate in the WEX meets FLSA requirements.  For a detail summary on FLSA, see Chapter 3.3.2.5 How to Deem. 

For nonexempt two-parent families, the maximum number of work experience hours can be split between the two parents.

7.5.3 Industrial Insurance Coverage

Internships and practicums are unpaid work experiences. State and federal law require a parent in work experience be covered by state industrial insurance or a comparable industrial insurance. This coverage is sometimes referred to as workman's compensation or L& I.

The colleges will pay L& I coverage for unpaid work experiences, such as Internships and Practicums, which are part of the parent's education and training plan.

7.5.4 When can you add it to the IRP?

The WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) adds an unpaid internship or practicum to the person's IRP as work experience if it is required to complete a training program that will result in a license or certificate or determined to enhance the parent's training and future employability.

Other Core and Non-core Activities, such as Vocational Education or Skills Enhancement Training, may be stacked with Internships/practicums as needed to reach full-time participation, generally 32-40 hours per week. See WFHB 1.2.3 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the parent’s IRP when possible.  Don’t exceed the FLSA maximum hours for work experience.  You can substitute non-core hours for core hours as needed to stay within the FLSA maximum. 

Depending on the design of the training program, an unpaid internship or practicum may be attached to either the end of the training period or utilized at strategic points during the training.

7.5.5 eJAS codes

  • WE (Work Experience, to track the unpaid internship or practicum)

7.5.6 Internships and Practicums - Step-by-step guide

When parents need an unpaid internship/practicum to complete or enhance their training:

  1. The WorkFirst college coordinator:
    • Works with the parent to create a training plan.
    • Notifies the WFPS/WFSSS of the unpaid internship/practicum by e-message.
  2. The WFPS/WFSSS updates the Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP).
  3. The Internship/Practicum worksite supervisor:
    • Provides daily supervision,
    • Documents participation every two weeks, and
    • Provides this information to the college WorkFirst Coordinator.
  4. The college WorkFirst Coordinator:
    • Reports participation monthly using eJAS, and
    • Immediately notify the WFPS/WFSSS if the parent fails to participate as required.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

7.6 What do I do when a participant is already in school when he or she comes to WorkFirst?

Created on: 
Jul 24 2017

Revised On: July 1, 2021

Legal References:

This section includes:

  • 7.6.1 Information needed
  • 7.6.2 Type of training and institution

This section of the handbook contains guidelines for a WFPS/WFSSS to ensure participants enrolled in, or attending, education and training at the time of their WorkFirst application meet their participation requirements. Participants enrolled in school might be receiving financial aid or loans.  

7.6.1 Information Needed

WorkFirst participation consists of numerous types of countable training options.

When participants already engaged in education and training apply for cash assistance and come to WorkFirst, the WFPS/WFSSS must determine:

  • The type of training and training institution the participant attends;
  • If the training is full-time or part-time;
  • Weekly hours of education and training they attend; and
  • If the participants are working (part-time job, work-study, internship).

To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the participant is in the education and training activities, including classes, labs, supervised study halls/tutoring sessions, and up to one hour of unsupervised study time for every hour of class time. Total homework time counted for participation can’t exceed the hours required or advised by their educational program.

Full-time participation is generally 32-40 hours per week (See WFHB 1.2.2 Required Participation).  Participants may need to combine work or a work-like activity with their educational program to meet their participation requirement if they aren’t already working. See WFHB 1.2.2 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) when possible. In most cases, vocational education will meet the strengthened participation requirements, but add an additional three hours core or non-core when necessary.

The WFPS/WFSSS may refer the participant to the following to assist them in obtaining work:

  • Job search,
  • Subsidized employment,
  • Unpaid work experience, or
  • College(s) to see if there are work-study positions available.

The participant must find a part-time job within 30 days in order to continue in their education and training when the education and training program doesn’t meet WorkFirst participation requirements.

For information regarding work-like activities, see chapters 4.1, 4.2, 4.37.58.3, 8.4 and 8.5.

7.6.2 Type of training and institution

Participants enrolled in vocational education may qualify under numerous activities. Participants attending a Washington State community or technical college may qualify for Vocational Education, Customized Jobs Skills Training, I-BEST, or High Wage, High Demand Training. Participants enrolled in an education program at an institution other than a Washington State community or technical college, may meet the Vocational Education or High Wage, High Demand Training requirements. Refer to Section 7.2 Vocational Education to determine the appropriate activity.

Other Education

  • Countable Non-core Activities: Participants enrolled in basic education or Skills Enhancement (JT), GED preparation (HS, GE), or High School completion (HS, BE), may also count these educational activities toward non-core participation. However, consider High School Completion or Equivalency for participants 19 years of age or younger (HS) as core activities. The WFPS/WFSSS must attempt to engage the participant in core activities to meet the participation requirement.
    For dependent teens/teen parents/unmarried parenting minors, please refer to Chapters 1.2 and 5.1 for participation requirements and 7.2 for education and training activities. For all others, please refer to 7.3 to determine the participant's participation requirements.
  • Degree Completion: If a participant is within 12 months of completing a degree, up to a baccalaureate degree, Degree Completion may be an option -See Chapter 7.2.
  • Vocational Education Unapproved: If a participant is more than 12 months* away from finishing an educational program, Vocational Education Unapproved programs may be an option - See Chapter 7.4. For this program, there is a requirement that a participant meet their work or work-like activity requirement. The WFPS/WFSSS needs to discuss work requirements and reduction of support services, including childcare, with this activity.
  • English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL): If the participant engages in language instruction such as ESL, refer to the LEP section of the handbook.

    WorkFirst will make every effort to assist participants in meeting the requirements of participation so they may remain in school. If not already participating on a full-time basis, generally 32-40 hours per week, the WFPS/WFSSS must take action to engage the participants in full-time WorkFirst activities.  See WFHB 1.2.2 for information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) when possible. If the participants don’t comply, they may face sanction for non-participation.

*Note: The department may increase the 12-month education limit to 24 months subject to funding appropriated specifically for this purpose.  The department has funding for this extension through SFY 2019.  See section 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Chapters

Other Resources

Chapter 8: Paid & Unpaid Employment

8.1 Overview

Revised December 19, 2019

Legal References:

The Paid & Unpaid Employment - Overview section includes:

  • 8.1.1 What is employment?
  • 8.1.2 Where do hours of employment come from?
  • 8.1.3 Why are employment services important?
  • 8.1.4 How do I verify employment for job starts?
  • 8.1.5 What is acceptable verification of employment hours?
  • 8.1.6 How do we record hours for temporary employment?
  • 8.1.7 When must a participant take a job?
  • 8.1.8 What are employment principles?
  • 8.1.9 Will any job do?
  • 8.1.10 How do work-study hours count?
  • 8.1.11 What is AmeriCorps/VISTA employment?
  • 8.1.12 What is WIA paid work experience?
  • 8.1.13 Verifying job starts - Step-by-step guide

8.1.1 What is employment?

Employment, or work, means to engage in any legal, income generating activity which is taxable under the United States Tax Code or which would be taxable with or without a treaty between an Indian Nation and the United States. Work provides the best opportunity for families to raise their income and leave poverty.

Helping participants find permanent, unsubsidized employment to allow them to support their families - is the goal of the WorkFirst program as defined in WAC 388-310-0200.

8.1.2 Where do hours of employment come from?

Employment can be part-time (31 hours per week or less) or full-time (32 hours per week or more). It comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • A paid, unsubsidized job,
  • Subsidized employment (Community Jobs),
  • On-the-job training (that combines training with a job)
  • Self-employment,
  • College work study, and
  • Paid work experience, practicums or internships.

When a participant has 20 hours of unsubsidized employment (or 30 hours for a two-parent family) this will meet the core activity requirement.   For two-parent families or single parents with no children under six in this situation, consider adding core or non-core activities to meet the strengthened participation requirements. See WFHB 1.2.2 for additional information about stacking an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant's IRP when possible.

Unlike every other type of countable WorkFirst activity, employment hours are counted and verified using the TANF prospective budgeting rules. This means we don't need to record actual hours of employment each month. We do, however, need to make sure we follow financial eligibility rules to:

  • Estimate the number of hours. For example, if a participant gets paid a twice a month and works 40 hours per week at $13.50 per hour, the calculation would be = $540 per week x 52 weeks per year = $28,080 ÷ 24 pay periods = $1,170 ÷ $13.50 = 86.66 hrs per pay period, rounded up to 87 hours. Staff would enter 87 hours per pay period into ACES 3G.
  • Verify employment when required. (See the Employment Hours Action Chart for additional details.) Employment hours must be verified:
    • At application.
    • When hours decrease causing an increase in benefits.
    • At the participant's TANF 6-month report.
    • When a participant gets a job. (Note: we don't need to verify other changes in an existing job during the certification period and except for the MCR.)

Staff request wage and hour verification during the normal course of business on all of these occasions, except for some job starts. See section 8.1.4 for the procedures we will use to verify employment hours when a participant starts a job. Rules for financial eligibility budgeting can be found in the EAZ Manual at WAC 388-450-0050.

Employment hours and income must be correctly entered onto the ACES 3G Earned Income Screen by WorkFirst or financial eligibility staff. Once employment hour data for the ongoing month is entered into ACES 3G:

  • The ACES 3G data will be used to report the participant's employment participation, including the Work Participation Rate (WPR), to the federal government.
  • ACES 3G calculates the average weekly hours of employment and display in eJAS so every WorkFirst partner knows how many employment hours we are reporting to the federal government.

8.1.3 Why are employment services important?

We use Career Scope services activities to connect participants to the labor market. We provide avenues for participants to move toward economic stability as soon as possible. The initial job, however, may be entry-level, temporary or part-time. This means it is important to connect participants with post-employment services options (reserved for those working 20 hours per week or more) to find or train for better jobs.

8.1.4 How do I verify employment for job starts?

There is one circumstance when we don't use TANF prospective budgeting rules. We need to verify employment hours for job starts before we can count them towards participation. Since TANF prospective budgeting rules do not require verification when a participant gets a job, WorkFirst staff will be responsible to verify employment hours for job starts.

Once a participant starts a new job, financial staff record wage and hour information, often based on the participant's statement, into ACES 3G. If the participant remains eligible for cash assistance WorkFirst staff will learn about changes in employment hours, including the start of a new job, via their Caseload Management Report Section #7 “Clients Where Employment Hours Have Changed”. Once WorkFirst staff learn of the change, we contact the participant to update their IRP.

As you change the IRP:

  • Determine if the participant has started a new job.
  • If so, check to see if the verification valid value on the ACES 3G Earned Income screen is CS or CE (Meaning staff used a client statement which is not federally countable); If yes:
    • Request verification of the participant's employment hours.
    • Start the sanction process if the participant refuses to bring in proof of employment hours.

Once we have verified the employment hours, the hours need to be entered into ACES 3G. Financial eligibility staff entering the employment hours into ACES 3G will adjust wages and hours, as needed, and update the verification valid value on the ACES 3G  Earned Income Screen to affect the ongoing benefit month.

To record  the historical employment hours, after employment is verified and the ongoing month is updated, the worker will go back into a minimum of 2 historical months (unless the employment start date was less than 2 months ago). The worker will update the historical ACES 3G Earned Income screens using:

  • The same budgeting method as the ongoing month
  • The same number of hours entered in the ongoing month
  • Income of $0.01 - Do not enter actual income for the historical months - it is critical that you must enter $0.01 to minimize overpayments. Ignore (IG) any BEGs created by entering historical information.
  • Appropriate valid value (ES, WS, CC or OT)

It is important to remember that historical hours can only be entered once verification of employment hours is received.

This process will allow the employment hours to count for WorkFirst participation in the historical months.

8.1.5 What is acceptable verification of employment hours?

Any source, including verbal, written, and email statements, can be used to verify employment hours as long as it meets the rules for evaluating verification in WAC 388-490-0005, which requires verification to:

  • Clearly relate to what the participant is trying to prove.
  • Be from a reliable source.
  • Be accurate, complete and consistent.

The Acceptable Forms of Verification Chart in the EAZ Manual has a suggested list of reliable sources of verification for income. We normally use a wage stub to verify employment. You can also use a written or verbal employer statement.

When you use a verbal employer statement, you must document in eJAS the participant's employment hour information, as well as the contact's name, title, phone number and the date of contact.

8.1.6 How do we record hours for temporary employment?

Temporary employment is a paid, unsubsidized job lasting 30 days or less. Examples include temporary employment agencies (such as Manpower, Labor Ready, etc) and casual labor (such as odd jobs for landlord, friends and relatives) or other employers offering temporary employment.

Temporary employment can be part-time (31 hours or less per week) or full-time (32 hours per week or more). In either case, there is an estimated employment end date of 30 days or less and the employer does not consider the participant a permanent full-time or part-time employee.

ESD releases participants from job search to engage in temporary employment. In the past these have been counted as excused absences. However, as long as we verify and document the temporary employment hours, we can count them as employment and use them to help the participant meet the work participation rate. Temporary employment hours for federal participation are recorded from the verified employment hours entered onto the ACES 3G Earned Income screen.

At the beginning of each month, the Employment Security Department (ESD) will send to DMS Temporary Employment Tracking Logs listing the verified temporary employment hours for each participant who reported temporary employment for the previous month.

DSHS staff will enter these verified temporary employment hours on the ACES 3G Earned Income screen for the historical month in which the employment occurred using the historical entry of hours method. Only enter income of $0.01 when entering historical employment hours and ignore any BEGs created by entering historical information.

For more information on the historical entry of employment hours, please refer to section 8.1.4.

For more information on ESD's temporary employment process, please refer to WFHB section 4.1.8 What is Temporary Employment and how is it recorded?

8.1.7 When must a participant take a job?

As shown in the chart below, these are some of the legal conditions under which a job is not appropriate, depending on whether the job is paid, unpaid, and/or subsidized.

A participant cannot be required to accept a job which ...
Is paid or unpaid and
  • Does not meet federal, state or tribal health and safety standards.
  • Is available because of a labor dispute.
  • Does not provide industrial insurance coverage (unless working for tribal government/ for-profit business).
  • Working hours/conditions interfere with religious beliefs/practices (and no reasonable accommodation made).
  • Unreasonable work demands or conditions (like not paid on schedule).
  • Displaces currently employed workers (results in another employee's job loss, reduced wages, reduced hours of employment or overtime or lost employment benefits).
Is paid and

Same as above, plus:

  • Pays less than the federal, state, local, or tribe minimum wage, whichever is higher.
  • Requires them to resign or refrain from joining a legitimate labor organization.
  • Does not provide unemployment compensation, unless they are:
    • Working for a tribal government or tribal for-profit business; or,
    • Treaty fishing rights related workers exempt under section 7873 of the Internal Revenue code.
  • Does not provide benefits equal to those provided to other workers employed in similar jobs.
Is On the Job Training (OJT) or subsidized and
  • The employer becomes involved in a strike, lockout or bona fide labor dispute.
  • The participant is used to displace another employee (and we stop paying the subsidy).

8.1.8 What are employment principles?

Whenever we think about WorkFirst, we need to keep the importance of work in mind.

Employment provides the best opportunity for families to raise their income and leave poverty.

Those who work always have more income than if they receive only a TANF cash grant.

Parents have the primary responsibility for supporting their children. Participant and the state share responsibility for helping families leave welfare. Participants are responsible for moving quickly into jobs. The state is responsible for helping participants find and keep a job, and for collecting child support.

Support is available to help participants become and stay employed, for example health care insurance and child care that participants can access and afford.

The partner agencies that share responsibility for WorkFirst will work with employers and other local partners to move families into self-supporting work.

Washington State welfare reform is based on a "work first" model, and on the conviction that everyone who can work should work, by immediately participating in Career Scope activities or employment. However, many of the families served through WorkFirst have barriers to employment and are best served through other referral pathways.

8.1.9 Will any job do?

Participants will often start with low-wage, temporary or part-time jobs and may continue to qualify for WorkFirst cash assistance. Others are in college work-study or in subsidized employment - jobs we know won't last. Any job is a start that can give participants the work history and references they need to obtain better employment. Still, there are things to keep in mind for participants who are employed, but in jobs that won't last long enough or pay well enough for a successful WorkFirst exit.

There are two basics to review with these participants while building their IRPs:

  • They may be required to participate for up to 40 hours per week, and
  • They have a choice of activities.

Individual circumstances will vary and affect participation options. A person in subsidized employment may be focusing on resolving issues as his or her additional activity, and moving to Career Scope activities as the situation improves. A person in college work study or who is limited-English proficient may be concentrating on their studies.

8.1.10 How do work study hours count?

Paid college work study is considered employment. The number of hours a participant is working in a federal or state work study count toward meeting the core activity requirement. Work study less than 19 hours per week must be stacked with other core activities (see stacking activities section).

The colleges are able to approve between 1 and 19 hours per week of work study. This will assist participants in meeting their core activity requirements. For example, a participant may be completing vocational education training that is 26 hours per week. The college can add 6 or more hours of work study to help the participant meet the goal of 32 - 40 hours per week of participation. The strengthened participation requirements in WFHB 1.2.3 don’t apply to work study students as long as they meet these requirements.

8.1.11 What is AmeriCorps/VISTA employment?

AmeriCorps national service programs, such as VISTA or AmeriCorps, provide a stipend living allowance to program participants (more commonly referred to as members). For the purposes of WorkFirst, the stipend is treated as salaried employment (not self-employment) and you code it as PT or FT depending on the number of hours the person works each week.

AmeriCorps/VISTA employment typically lasts for nine to 12 months, is normally full-time and result in educational award for teens or parents who successfully complete the program. Members will obtain marketable soft skills, job skills, a good source of income, and work experience. AmeriCorps and Vista programs can be an effective way for parents and teens to achieve self-sufficiency. See EAZ 388-450-0045 for information about how to budget AmeriCorps/VISTA earnings.

8.1.12 What is WIA paid work experience?

The Employment Security Department is authorizing paid work experience for participants in many areas of the state, funded by Title 1 of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Participants' WIA experience payments will affect both financial eligibility and WorkFirst participation.

WIA paid work experience is considered WIA on-the-job training for Basic Food purposes. It is coded on the ACES 3G Earned Income screen with employment code 'WJ'. For more information on budgeting WIA, please refer to the EAZ Manual under Income - Special Types, WAC 388-450-0045(1)(i) and (ii).

WIA paid work experience is considered employment for the purposes of the WorkFirst program. WorkFirst staff will code WIA paid work experience participation under the PT or FT eJAS component code. As employment, there is no FLSA maximum hours for WIA paid work experience and staff will not need to enter actual hours of participation each month.

8.1.13 Verifying Job Starts - Step-by-step guide

  1. When you learn of a change in employment hours:
    1. Require the participant to complete an IRP review and update.
    2. Determine whether the participant has started a new job. If not, the participant does not need to provide proof of employment hours.
    3. If the participant has started a new job, determine whether a CS or CE verification valid value was entered on the participant's ACES 3G Earned Income Screen. If not, the participant does not need to provide proof of employment hours.
    4. If the participant has started a new job and the CS or CE code was used, require the participant to provide proof of employment hours within 10 business days. Add to the participant's IRP "I agree to provide proof of the number of hours I work by [date]. "
    5. Start the sanction process if a participant refuses to provide proof of employment hours as required.
  2. If the WFPS or WFSSS uses a verbal employer statement as proof of employment hours, they must document in eJAS:
    1. The employment hour information.
    2. The name, title and phone number of the contact person.
    3. The date of the contact.
  3. The WFPS or financial eligibility staff updates the ACES 3G Earned Income Screen for the ongoing month and at least two historical months (unless the employment start date was less than 2 months ago) only once we have proof of employment hours, including:
    1. Adjusting wage information, as needed.
    2. Adjusting employment hours, as needed.
    3. Updating the verification valid value to document the type of proof that was obtained.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

8.2 Self-employment

Created on: 
Jul 29 2016

(fully countable core)

Legal References:

The Self-employment section includes:

  • 8.2.1 How do I determine WorkFirst participation requirements for self-employed participants?
  • 8.2.2 What are self-employment plans?
  • 8.2.3 How many self-employment hours count towards federal participation?
  • 8.2.4 eJAS Codes
  • 8.2.5 Self-employment - Step-by-Step Guide

8.2.1 How do I determine WorkFirst participation requirements for self-employed participants?

Self-employment occurs when a participant is working as a business owner or independent contractor. Participants working at least 32 hours or more per week at minimum wage, with an approved self-employment plan, may use self-employment as their primary path to independence.

Deferral from employment services activities can occur if self-employed participants meet all of the following conditions:

Participants:

Single participants with a child under six:

Working at least 32 hours per week at their business

Working at least 20 hours per week at their business

Their business generates income equal to the federal minimum wage times 32 hours per week, after business expenses are subtracted

Their business generates income equal to the federal minimum wage times 20 hours per week, after business expenses are subtracted

Have an approved self-employment plan from a local business resource center.

Have an approved self-employment plan from a local business resource center.

 

Even though we determine grant amount and federally countable hours differently as of August 1, 2015, how we count hours for WF activity will stay the same. We will continue to subtract actual business expenses in the above calculation, rather than subtracting 50% of the gross.

You may use the SE Hours Calculator to get the number of PT or FT hours per week to use for WorkFirst participation. Input the amount of the gross monthly business receipts (from ACES) and the allowable, reported business expenses. Please note, this calculation may result in more participation hours than the federally countable hours described in section 8.2.3.

If the participant doesn’t meet all these conditions, s/he:

  • Can continue their self-employment,
  • Must participate in employment services activities, and
  • May stack participation with other WorkFirst activities.

8.2.2 What are self-employment plans?

If a participant wants to pursue self-employment, refer her/him to a local business resource center. For information on local business resource centers in your area, visit the Small Business Development Center website, Service Core of Retired Executives website, or any other local entities that provide business plan guidance. Add the referral to the participant’s IRP and give them a reasonable amount of time to complete needed actions with the local business resource center. The local business resource center will help the participant pull together the following information required for plan approval:

  • A business statement of self-employment plan, and
  • Profit and Loss statements (or projected Profit and Loss statements, if a new business).

The local business resource center will also provide the participant with ongoing technical support, such as help to:

  • Acquire any necessary business, professional or tribal licenses,
  • Set up a quarterly business plan, and
  • Learn about affordable credit and business training.

The self-employment plan will come back to you so you can decide whether to add self-employment to the participant’s IRP and approve any needed support services (like paying for small business training courses) or child care. Developing the self-employment plan with a local business resource center and accessing ongoing technical support aren’t countable activities.

8.2.3 How many self-employment hours count towards federal participation?

As shown on the chart below, there is a set formula that ACES will use when determining how much income a participant's business is generating, and how this translates into the number of federally countable self-employment hours per week. WorkFirst staff use the process in 8.3.1 to determine WorkFirst participation requirements when developing an IRP.

ACES will use self-employment data to calculate the grant amount and the average weekly hours of self-employment that count toward federal participation. ACES will display that information in eJAS in Employment Hours History.

ACES will apply the 50% self-employment standard deduction, as appropriate, to determine the amount of the cash grant without any action on your part. Only enter verified business expenses on the ACES EARN screen. ACES will treat all SE earned income expense types as actual business expenses.

ACES self-employment formula to calculate federally countable self-employment hours
  1. ACES will subtract the participant's allowable, verified business expenses or 50% of the gross monthly business receipts (whichever is higher) from her or his gross monthly business receipts.
  2. ACES will divide the result by the federal minimum wage.
  3. The result is the number of self-employment hours per month.
  4. ACES will divide the number of hours per month by 4.33.
  5. The result is the number of self-employment hours per week that will count toward federal participation.

Definition of Employment: Any legal income generating activity which is taxable under the United States Tax Code or non-taxable under treaty between an Indian Nation and the United States.

8.2.4 eJAS codes

When a participant is self-employed, use the eJAS codes:

  • RO