1.4 WorkFirst Orientation

Created on: 
Jun 02 2015

Revised on: September 1, 2017

Legal References:

The WorkFirst Orientation section includes:

  • 1.4.1 What is WorkFirst Orientation?
  • 1.4.2 How is the WorkFirst orientation delivered?
  • 1.4.3 Who needs a WorkFirst orientation?
  • 1.4.4 What happens during the WorkFirst orientation?
  • 1.4.5 What is covered during the WorkFirst orientation?
  • 1.4.6 eJAS/ACES codes
  • 1.4.7 WorkFirst orientation - Step-by-Step Guide

1.4.1 What is the WorkFirst Orientation?

The WorkFirst orientation is an upfront orientation completed by DSHS staff at initial application, or returner after 30 days of exiting TANF prior to the TANF grant being approved. It provides applicants/returners an overview of all the programs and services available to their families once their grant is approved. By providing an upfront orientation of the WorkFirst requirements, families will have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and what opportunities are available to them while receiving a TANF grant .   
An effective orientation:

  • Builds a positive working relationship.
  • Engages and motivates.
  • Shows “what’s in it for you” and how the client is responsible to take advantage of what the program offers.
  • Demonstrates how employment and participation are important responsibilities and opportunities.
  • Gives information so the parent can be an active, informed partner in making decisions.
  • Stresses that welfare is temporary and that work is the best avenue to provide a better life for them and their children.

1.4.2 How is the WorkFirst orientation delivered?

The primary responsibility to deliver the WorkFirst orientation belongs to the Community Services Division (CSD), although any of our partners are welcome to provide information on the services they provide. The orientation should be delivered in a group setting, with an option for one-on-one orientations in small or rural community service offices. The orientation:

  • Must be an in-person orientation, unless the client is
    • Employed;
    • Has serious health conditions; or
    • Can’t come into the office due to domestic violence issues
  • If the client meets the criteria for a phone orientation, document why behind the adult's WORK screen in ACES  
  • Should be presented a minimum of one time per week
  • Should take a minimum of 30 minutes to present
  • Must be delivered by a WorkFirst staff member

1.4.3 Who needs a WorkFirst orientation?

All individuals who will be mandatory WorkFirst participants as described in WAC 388-310-0200 once TANF/SFA is approved must complete a WorkFirst orientation. An orientation is not required for clients who received TANF/SFA within the past 30 days.

1.4.4 What happens during the WorkFirst orientation?

The WorkFirst Program Specialist/Social Service Specialist conducts the orientation before WorkFirst cash assistance approval to provide a broad overview of the WorkFirst Program. Subsequent contacts with the person will provide other opportunities to engage the person in WorkFirst activities.

When presenting WorkFirst opportunities:

  • Establish a positive rapport with the group or person you are working with to make a human connection.
  • Use the orientation Power Point and 'Talking Points' tools to focus on strengths, responsibilities, and the consequences of decisions, while addressing barriers.
  • Give local resource information, in writing, for future reference.
  • Discuss WorkFirst expectations in a positive manner.
  • Be clear about the consequences if a person chooses not to participate.
  • Invite partners to share their messages and what they have to offer.
  • Get parents into activities as soon as possible for as many hours as possible.
  • Let parents know they can call their case manager if they have questions or concerns about participating.

1.4.5 What is covered during the WorkFirst orientation?

As shown in the chart below, there is some basic material that should be covered.

The WorkFirst orientation includes.

An Introduction to WorkFirst
  • Everyone participates and does the best they can!
  • A job, a better job, a better life
  • Work pays!
  • WorkFirst = Options
  • Supports are available
The Employment Pathway & How Work Pays A written and/or oral demonstration, including a description of child care, support services and other benefits (like EITC) available to working families. See "Talking Points"
WorkFirst Time Limit Information and a reminder about the five-year time limit (Possible WorkFirst Cash Assistance Extension at 60 months)
Rights, Responsibilities & Consequences Explanation of the person's rights, responsibilities, participation requirements & sanction. The key message here is that WorkFirst offers many supports and services to help get through a temporary situation, but parents must participate in the program and take advantage of the supports designed to help them find and keep a job. It is important for them to understand that if they chose not to participate, they risk losing their cash grant.
Working Relationship Emphasize that this is a working relationship and that open communication can help the parent succeed sooner and avoid problems like sanction.
DSHS Responsibilities The department must provide appropriate support services and child care while the person is in required activities
Post-Employment Services Introduce people to the types of services available once they are working 20 hours or more per week (WorkFirst & post-WorkFirst)
Post TANF Employment Services

Specific types of services and information may vary from office to office, such as:

  • 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
    • Basic Food & Education Training (BFET)
    • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Local WorkFirst Services Let people know what types of programs and services are available in your area .
WorkFirst Opportunities Brochure (DSHS 22-1125) A required publication which provides an overview of the WorkFirst program.
Q&A Give people a chance to ask questions.

1.4.6 e-JAS/ACES codes

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

1.4.7 WorkFirst Orientation - Step-by-Step Guide

The WorkFirst Program Specialist or Social Service Specialist:

  1. Makes a positive connection with each group/participant.
  2. Provides an overview of the WorkFirst program, stressing all the opportunities that are available
  3. Provides accommodations for those who need them or who do not understand English.
  4. Uses the orientation PowerPoint and WorkFirst Talking Points to make sure the participant gets a good understanding of the employment pathway, their responsibility to take advantage of what the program offers, how work pays and the risk of a lowered or complete loss of the cash grant for non-participation.
  5. Provides a WorkFirst folder, DSHS 22-395, to each participant which includes, at a minimum, the following documents:
    • WorkFirst Opportunities Brochure, DSHS 22-1125
    • Domestic Violence Flyer, DSHS 22-265

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

  • Commerce Brochure, DSHS 22-1584
  • Education Brochure, DSHS 22-1579
  • Transitioning Off TANF or WorkFirst, DSHS 22-1586
  • BFET Flyer
    • DSHS 22-1681 Region 1
    • DSHS 22-1682 Region 2
    • DSHS 22-1683 Region 3
  • Child Care information
  • Local Resource list


Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources