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…

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.


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.


Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Other Resources

1.2 Required Participation

Revised on: January 31, 2023

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 a participant doesn't meet an exemption 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 (exempt)


(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


Participate in HS as per school requirements to progress towards graduation

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


(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


Participate in HS as per school requirements to progress towards graduation

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


(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 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.


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.


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 a participant doesn't meet an exemption but can't participate in regular employment service activities?

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

Some participants may need specialized services to participate in required WorkFirst activities. If a participant is unable to engage in regular employment activities, they may be required to participate in an activity. Each participant's impairment needs to be assessed and evaluated by professionals who are knowledgeable of their medical needs, skills, and abilities, while exploring their desired employment outcomes. WorkFirst staff supports the participant with obtaining medical evidence, and a referral to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). DVR Counselors (VRC) provide specific vocational services. WorkFirst staff coordinates with the VRC or other professionals when the participant is referred for services (see WFHB section 6.6.8 DVR Referrals).

In some cases, the participant may be placed on a waiting list with DVR. If on the wait list, determine other potential activities the participant can engage in to prepare for participation in DVR work-related services, such as gathering medical evidence and following all required treatment. Potential activities that are appropriate for a participant waiting for DVR employment services and may be included in the participant's IRP:    

  • Substance abuse treatment,
  • Medical treatment,
  • Mental health counseling,
  • Parenting classes,
  • Adult education,
  • Life skills courses,
  • Money management education,
  • Work part-time in an entry-level job,
  • Applying for SSI
Note: DVR is a voluntary program and the WorkFirst participant must want and agree to work. 

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 Tarimah Williams 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

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.


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.


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.)


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.


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 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
  • 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 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.  

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
    • 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
    • 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 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


Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections