2.2 Support Services

Revised July 2017

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 are the support service expansions on licensing and fees for transportation (SFY18)?
  • 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 Circumstances

2.2.1 What are Support Services?

Support services are goods and services purchased to help participants become independent. We offer support services when there is no other way to meet a family's essential needs - so be creative while using sound judgment to determine what is reasonable. For example, a participant starting work may need work clothes. We can use support services to increase a participant's existing wardrobe so he/she can show up for work in suitable clothing.

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), but the main focus is employment and 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 real and immediate needs of the participant. The category recommendations should not be considered an entitled amount, but are 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 for support services is to subsidize participants' efforts toward finding employment, remaining employed and advancing into better employment.

2.2.3 What are the support service limits?

There is a $3,000 yearly limit for each participant in the family - although some services do not count towards the yearly limit. There are hard edits in eJAS for the annual limit, meaning the eJAS system will not allow payments exceeding this limit.

"Use limits" include:

  • Work: Supports needed to work, look for work, or function in a workplace (like community jobs, OJT, or work experience).
  • Health/safety: Transportation supports needed to deal with significant family health or safety needs (like getting a household member with severe disabilities to doctor appointments or dealing with family violence).
  • Participation: A few types of support services can be authorized to help the participant prepare for work or meet other WorkFirst requirements.

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 (like 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 are the support service expansion on licensing and fees for transportation (SFY18)?

There is a statewide expansion to transportation-related licensing and fees support services from September 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018 for participants engaged in work or safety activities, and based on available funding. This means:

  • Working with the courts and collection agencies to assist participants in resolving the following transportation issues excluding any costs related to alcohol or drugs, including DUI and DWI:
    • Outstanding Traffic-Related Warrants
    • Traffic Tickets
    • Fines
    • Penalties
**Note: If there are already current payment arrangements in place, the participant is not eligible**

The WFPS/WFSSS may help the participant determine:

  • If the license is suspended
  • What court/s are showing the ticket/s
    • How much is owed?
    • Has it gone to collections?
    • Is the court willing/able to pull back from collections?
    • If there is an option for community service or work crew.
  • If community service/work crew is not an option:
    • Negotiate lower fees and payment plans:
      • Support services for down payment to set up payment plan
      • Support service to pay for fines when all other options have been exhausted.
Note: Payment of transportation-related fines to a court or collection agency must be authorized by Exception to Rule (ETR) only and accompanied by proof that it is not for alcohol or drug-related fines, including DUI or DWI.

Once the ETR is approved, the WFPS/WFSSS must:

  • Enter the LF indicator code in eJAS through 06/30/18,  
    • For Aberdeen, Alderwood, Moses Lake, Renton, and Wenatchee CSOs the indicator code is TI.
  • Create the voucher to the vendor and add in freeform text area:
    • Approval of ETR for Transportation Initiative
    • Ticket/s number
    • Cost of each ticket
    • Total cost of ticket/s

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 (non-transportation related - See Section 2.2.4 for transportation-related 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 Cash Assistance Applicants

Supports directly related to job search or to enable the participant to accept a job are allowed if the participant is:

  • Referred to Career Scope;
  • In pending status; and,
  • Appears to be eligible for WorkFirst cash assistance.
WorkFirst Cash Assistance Recipients

Authorize support services the participant needs to meet a temporary emergency so s/he can continue to look for, prepare for, or obtain work, or progress on the job. Examples include meeting the initial costs of employment, transportation, counseling, or skills training.

2.2.6 How do I encourage independence?

WorkFirst has a limited amount of resources that can be used as a supplement to the participant's own resources, and other available resources. This approach means that support services can be used as a teaching tool to help participants understand what they will need to transition off WorkFirst. As needed supports are issued, participants will also benefit from talking through:

  • 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 will combine the participant's resources with what the program can provide. For example, if a participant has a car repair need that will cost $700 so she can keep her job, the participant and the worker may find out from the vendor how much of the cost could be financed over time 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 should not be considered 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 considered 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. Support services are authorized to meet temporary, targeted needs and get people started towards independence. They are also a valuable and limited resource that needs to be conserved so they can be used wisely.

As you talk to participants about support services, you need to ask a few questions before you can decide whether to approve the request. Questions to ask include:

  1. Is the support service essential to move them towards employment or independence?
  2. What resources can they quickly bring to the table?
  3. How much do they need to reserve to cover their needs for the rest of the year?
  4. What is readily available from their community?
  5. Is there a lower cost alternative available?
  6. How do they plan to take over ongoing costs in the future?

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. For example, if you know that a community agency can supply work clothes, call them and set that up instead of authorizing support services. If, on the other hand, you do not know of a specific resource, use support services to cover the need.

Remember, support services are not meant to be an ongoing supplement if 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 are not 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,
  • Make sure the participant knows that a fair hearing can be requested.

It is particularly important to document support service denials in eJAS. That way, if a participant requests a fair hearing later on - we will have the information we need to justify the denial and process their request.

2.2.9 How do I request an Exception to Rule?

When necessary, you can request an exception to rule to exceed the support services annual limit. This is a formal exception request process where headquarters staff makes the final decision. These exceptions will only be considered when the participant's situation differs from the majority and has a significant impairment or limitation that is not addressed by current limits. Please explain to the participant that when you submit these requests there is no guarantee that they will be approved by state office.

To request an exception to rule, the WFPS must complete the Barcode ETR request process. For complete instructions on processing an exception to rule request:

  • For DSHS, the EA-Z Manual provides more details.
  • For Employment Security Department (ESD) workers, follow the procedure as outlined in the Internal Controls Manual (found under the HELP tab in CATS) and use the DSHS-05-010(X) Exception to Rule form.
  • For CJ providers, please refer to your Department of Commerce CJ contract.

When a participant has an emergency situation that seriously jeopardizes family health or safety, you can ask your supervisor to authorize emergency supports to exceed the annual limit. This option is really 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 an immediate decision, or, if need be, authorize supports via an A-19 and get the exception approved by headquarters after the fact.

2.2.10 Support Services - Step-by-Step Guide

For complete eJAS directions please go to the eJAS Support Service Handbook.

  1. The WFPS/SSS or ESD employment services counselor:
    1. Determines needed support services based on the activities in the IRP.
    2. Reviews past support services authorized by ESD, DSHS, or Commerce to ensure no duplication of supports.
    3. Determines the best and/or lowest-cost alternative. (For example, we suggest getting two estimates for car repair.)
    4. Discusses with the participant the best option 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.)
    5. Authorizes and issues support services, following your local office procedure, including:
      1. Creating voucher;
      2. Obtaining the appropriate approval;
      3. Vouchers must be given to WF participant's directly.
      4. Issuing BOA fuel cards, bus passes or bus tickets. Follow the CSD procedures handbook - Support Services Negotiables.
    6. Documents the reasons for selecting and authorizing support services:
      1. In eJAS under the support services notes section; and,
      2. (DSHS only) In the case record (including copies of verification used in the decision making).
    7. De-obligates the funds and cancels the voucher if the person does not use the support services voucher within a reasonable amount of time.
    8. Cancels pending requests if the BOA fuel card is not  picked up within 10 business days from the issuance date..
  2. To create a purchase authorization/voucher:
    1. Enter detailed information on the voucher, outlining what is being purchased and the cost of each participant item (e.g. "Car repair - For repair of the transmission on 1987 Buick LeSabre not to exceed $XXX).
    2. Emboss the voucher with the WorkFirst seal, which tells the vendor the document is an original. The voucher is “invalid unless embossed”.
      • For ESD, please refer to the Internal Controls Manual.
      • Commerce Program providers, refer to your Commerce WorkFirst Contract
    3. Obtain required approval and authorizing signatures from the:
      • WFPS/SW,
      • Supervisor, and
      • participant

In the event you cannot obtain the participant’s signature, and all efforts have been made to secure the signature, the issuing WFPS/SSS will:

  • Document the attempts in eJAS notes,
  • Write on the voucher (participant signature line) “see eJAS notes dated mm/dd/yy” for an explanation of attempts made, and submit the voucher for payment

The following procedures are for DSHS.

  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.

2.2.11 Special Circumstances

Revised August 8, 2017

Department of Licensing (DOL)

 When a participant requests DOL-related support services, WorkFirst Program Specialists or Social Service Specialists will follow 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: SWV001117511
    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 services such as registration, license tabs and vehicle transfers:

    1. Create a voucher using vendor id: SWV0011175E6 and scan to Angela Bridges at ESA HQ - Fiscal.
    2. Finance will create a warrant and mail to the WFPS/SSS.
    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 vehicle licensing office (Independent distributor or county office) to pay for the service.

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


  • ESD workers, please follow the procedure as outlined in the Internal Controls Manual found under the HELP tab in CATS.
  • CJ providers, please refer to your Commerce CJ contract.


When a participant requests U-Haul-related support services, WorkFirst Program Specialists or Social Service Specialists will 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 uhaul_corporate_accounts@uhaul.com with a request for a gift certificate in a specific amount for Account 990-04130. 

Note: You must cc Kathy Zimmerman and Angela Bridges if you manually email; however, if you select the link in this section, it will automatically select the correct group. Your request won’t be processed without this email.

  1. Receive gift certificate email from U-Haul 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 will 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 will be responsible for any additional charges.
  2. Mail signed voucher to ESA HQ – Fiscal.

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 the 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

 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. 


What should you do to use this year's allocation before the end of the program year on June 30?

Follow the instruction below:

1. Before or on June 30:


  • Give the voucher to the family member.
  • Receive the purchase or service.

Bulk Purchases

Beginning August 1, 2012, until further notice, transportation bulk purchases may not be made by any office or region without prior approval from ESA HQ Fiscal.

The following is the approval process for CSO bulk purchases:

  • CSO will submit 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 (i.e. WorkFirst or ABD or MCS)
    • Type of the bulk purchase (i.e. bus passes or tickets)
    • Item amount of the purchase (i.e. number of passes or tickets)
  • ESA HQ Fiscal makes the determination and notifies the appropriate Regional Coordinator. The Coordinator will notify the CSO of the approval or denial of the purchase.

After the CSO has received approval, the CSO will use tracking log when issuing bus tickets, bus passes and other transportation negotiable to a participant. The tracking log will need 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 family member if the mileage form is turned in to be processed for payment.
  • If the reimbursement form is turned in after June 30, process the payment for the previous for the previous program year.


  • Process as usual
    • Payments are not made the last four days of the month.
  • All payments use this year's allocation.


2. After June 30:


  • If the family member 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 family member did not pick up the BOA cards until July, cancel the pending authorization, and reissue the cards if appropriate.

Bulk Purchases

  • If the goods are received in July then the voucher must be redone using the new program year.


  • If the service or purchase was done before July 1 then process the payment using last year's funds.


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


    Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections